A former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, on Wednesday said he joined the ruling All Progressives Congress to help diffuse tensions that the party is an ethnic or religious contraption.
Mr. Kalu sent ripples through the country’s political atmosphere when he disclosed Wednesday afternoon that he’d cross-carpeted to the APC since Sunday.
He announced his move to the APC hours after resigning from the Progressive Peoples Alliance, a party he established in 2006 and had funded since then.
“If they see us in this place, they will know that that APC is not an ethnic or religious party,” Mr. Kalu said in a press briefing to announce the move.
The former governor admitted that the APC will be a tough sell in the South East, but expressed optimism that it will eventually be accepted after intense lobbying of those that matter in the region.
“It is something that we need to be explaining to the Catholic bishops, Anglican bishops, the Pentecostal churches and the rest of them,” Mr. Kalu said.
Mr. Kalu said he represented an asset to the APC because his move to the party had seen no fewer than 4,000 residents of Abia State join it within the last few days, a crowd he said included two serving federal lawmakers.
“Between Sunday when I registered at Igbere and now, there are 4,000 new members already registered with the APC in Abia without making it open,” Mr. Kalu said. “there are two members of the House of Representatives who are there right now that are joining the APC.”
Mr. Kalu stated that he deliberately delayed his move to the APC in order to deprive his political detractors of any ground to launch attacks against him.
“If I had joined at the early times when they were forming the government, it would have appeared as if I want to be part of that process,” Mr. Kalu said. “This is the right time to join.”
Mr. Kalu said his move to the APC was the result of several months of negotiation with the party’s executives, a discussion he said was going on at the same time as when the PDP national leaders were lobbying him.
The politician said he had no intention of running for office but only to serve as a loyal and unifying figure within the APC.
“I am not going to run for any office for now. I am going to be a very good party man,” Mr. Kalu said. “But if the party find me worthy to do anything, I will do it.”
Mr. Kalu’s move to the APC came two weeks after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission re-arraigned him for corruption he allegedly perpetrated while he was governor of Abia between 1999-2003.
But the former governor appeared to pre-empt speculation that may arise from his decision to join the APC.
“I am sure that you know that nobody can pocket me in Nigeria or make me say what I don’t want to say or do what I don’t want to do,” he said.