A group, Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria (CCSN) has expressed displeasure over the spate of sponsored media attacks against Benjamin Kalu, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, with the aim of ruining his chances of emerging as Speaker of the 10th Assembly.
CCSN, at a press conference on Friday in Abuja, called on Nigerians and elected members of the House to be vigilant and reject attempts by individuals or groups to use them as tools for achieving their selfish political agenda.
The group was responding to series of allegation levelled against Kalu, including the claim that he sold out the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last general election and hence should not aspire to succeed Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker.
According to the CCSN, the allegations were made through “unknown and unregistered” under the aegis of the Coalition of so-called Northern Patriots Front, South West Professionals and Coalition of Arewa Group by persons seeking to stop Kalu’s bid.
“It is exciting to note that the genuine and patriotic interest of the Spokesperson of the House of Representatives and Member representing Bende Federal Constituency, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, to run for the Speakership of the 10th House of Representatives, has unbalanced a certain segment and rather than to focus on the core issues of competence, equity, balance, loyalty and leadership, they have descended into the abyss of mudslinging and bolekaje politics. Unfortunate!
“We a knowledge that talk is cheap and parrots like to chatter to be noticed. If not, how can one explain without any empirical evidence the allegation that Hon Kalu sold the party out. The question that begs is to who and for what? These two questions if not satisfactorily answered is enough grounds for libel because he who asserts must prove,” Archie Isong, CCSN’s National Coordinator, stated the press conference.
Isong said it was unreasonable to accuse Kalu of betraying the APC when available records including pictures and videos show that the lawmaker “campaigned vigorously for the APC and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as presidential candidate in Abia State.”
Speaking on Kalu’s experience, the group said the Abia federal lawmaker has demonstrated panache and know-how in the affairs of the House and “has a robust participation on various debates, through the number of bills and motions he has sponsored in the House.”
It added, “Outside the parliament, the public sector experience of Hon. Benjamin Kalu becomes resourceful having been a Local Government Chairman and a two-time member of the State Executive Council in Abia State. His knowledge of the law and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a practicing Lawyer and an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria should also be recognized.
“You may recall Hon Benjamin Okezie Kalu was the one who moved the first motion of the House HM001 and the first gavel of Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as the speaker on any motion was that moved by Hon Benjamin Kalu. We have seen him handle topical national issues, issues of national importance on tv debates, radio debates, over the media and press conferences, press releases, and press statements and he has been inspiring.”
Isong further called on the political class to rise above ethnic sentiments and ensure that the best candidates are elected to represent the people.
He said Kalu has always presented himself as a man who doesn’t recognize ethnic and religious borders which, according to him, is evident in friendships the lawmaker has built across different regions of the country.
“A man who took 17 years to prepare himself before coming to House of rep and has added another 4 years making it 21 years has the capacity to do what that office demands as we have seen him in the role of the Spokesperson of the House of Representatives. Never has there been a time that the image of the House was this effective. Hon. Kalu is not running on the basis of being Igbo, rather he is running because he is a prepared, ready to go nationalist who believes in the agenda of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.
“We unequivocally demand a retraction of the libelous statement and urge Nigerians of good standing to ignore rumour peddlers and know that a virile, strong and representative House leadership is in supporting Hon. Benjamin Kalu as the next Speaker of the House of Reps,” Isong added.