In what appeared like a procession Wednesday, former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, pulled large party faithful to the headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abuja, to formally join the party.
As expected, National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led the National Working Committee (NWC) and other party chieftains to give Kalu a rousing welcome.
Speaking while welcoming Kalu to the party, Oyegun narrated several efforts he made to convince him to join the party.
He described the business mogul as an asset and a force that would reposition the party in the South East, just as he admitted that his joining the party has saved him from high blood pressure.
National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, Deputy Vice Chairman Southeast, Emma Nnukwu, Chairman Abia State chapter of the party, Sam Nkire to former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, commended Kalu’s courage and chronicled efforts to convince him to join the party.
Earlier, the former Abia governor admitted that yesterday was the happiest day of his life, stressing that he had been under immense pressure from most members of the ruling party to ensure he opted for the APC rather than return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after leaving the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) recently.
Promising that he would work assiduously to deliver the South East to the APC, Kalu also thanked everybody who contributed in making the decision a reality.
“Let me thank my brothers in the NWC of this party for their efforts. Three of them have hosted me to dinner for more than 20 times while they were trying to dissuade me from going back to the PDP because they know that I am very close to Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
“In eating those dinners, the last of which was five days ago, to seal the deal, they were on my neck for a long time that I must come to the APC.
“Today is a happy day and I want APC to be all-inclusive, regardless of our tribe, religion or special status. I want to thank the national chairman for this opportunity to personally welcoming us.
“I am coming in and God will help me to bring value to the party.
“Between Sunday, November 13, 2016 when I registered at Igbere and now, there are 4, 000 members new members already registered with the APC in Abia. Without making it open, there are two members of the House of Representatives who are there right now to join the APC.
“So, it is work that we must carry to a logical conclusion.
“Our upright war is that the South East will be delivered to the APC. God will help us to do this. The most important thing is the ability is to consult, discuss and move forward. Nobody is an embodiment of knowledge. Knowledge is in the hands of God and God will always give us knowledge.
“My history is very brief. I lived in the north, was trained by the northerners; went to Yorubaland to do business, they trained me to be a businessman and I am by birth, Igbo. When you look at my face, you see the genuine face of an Igbo man and the genuine face of a Nigerian. I understand the country very well and I hope that the party will continue to grow from strength to strength.
“I hope that the party will continue to give support to the good work that President Buhari is doing. It is a difficult time and many Nigerians are crying. But I believe we will live to get to a better destination.
“I know we are going through hard times and there is recession everywhere in the world, but, you have to help the president to formulate policies that will reduce the suffering of the people so that the party can become stronger and stronger.”
Speaking further, Kalu added: “You were here the day my mother and brothers came here and all my friends are here in this party. I am not saying that my friends are not in the other parties. But, it is time to take stock and it is important to go along family line to be able to rebrand Nigeria very well. I am back to join where my family is.
“If I had joined at the early times when they were forming government, it would have appeared as if I want to be part of that process. This is the right time to join. This is the right time to do politics and so, I believe I am joining at the right time, to be able to do raw politics with them.”
Similarly, the chairman said it was a day worth celebrating but disclosed he did not believe Kalu when he informed him of his registration in Abia State, just as Oyegun added they had nursed fears of losing him to another party.
“This is a day that is worth celebrating. When he called me that he had registered, I doubted it but, when the state chairman confirmed it, I told him that I would personally receive him. It took him so long to make the decision and I must confess to you that, in between, I occasionally expressed doubt and wondered if we would lose this important masquerade from Abia.
“I am happy that the day has finally arrived and I am delighted to welcome you. Everybody worked zalously to join you because when the going gets tough, as it is today, in this nation, we will look for the kind of people with the attributes, resilience, courage and following who can contribute positively, from experience, to getting this nation out of the economic meltdown we inherited.
“You fell into that definition. Secondly, the presence of the party must be maximal in all the zones of the country. Giving the attachment of the South East before now, it is also necessary to go for leaders that have deliverable, who can contribute positively and leaders people can listen to. Kalu fell squarely into that category.
You are not only going to help us in the South East but, also, in the South South, to turn this party around so that there will be balanced APC in every nook and crannt of this country.
Your coming is very significant and I thank God that it is not late.
You have lots of work to do to consolidate our party. I salute and welcome you.
“I forgive you all the stress you caused me and the blood pressure you caused me while waiting for you,” Oyegun rounded off.