Former Abia State governor and current Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, has pulled out from contesting the 2023 presidential election.
In a statement he signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Monday, Kalu declared support for Senate President Ahmed Lawan, from the north-east region, who has joined politicians jostling to become President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.
Kalu, who said he decided to quit the presidential bid because the position was not zoned to the South-East, said he had picked the ticket to contest for the senatorial seat once more.
The former governor said, “I congratulate my friend, former roommate and boss, Senator Ahmad Lawan as he picks form to run for President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under our great party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
“I am most glad because he is from the North-East, the only zone alongside the South-East that is yet to produce the President of Nigeria.
“I have always maintained an unambiguous stand that for justice, equity and fairness in our country, the next President of Nigeria after President Muhammadu Buhari should come from the South-East or the North-East.
“I have also told Nigerians that I would only run for president if the two major political parties (APC and PDP) zone their tickets to the South-East.
“That is why I was disappointed with our southern brothers who are talking about fairness and equity but have zero tolerance for the same fairness and equity in the South.
“In the absence of a south easterner being president of Nigeria in 2023, I have my full support for a North Easterner.
“This is because it would be the closest to the equity, fairness and justice everyone is talking about. It further means that justice is on its way to the South-East.
“I thank those who said they have picked presidential form for me because they meant well for Nigerians.
“However, since there is no zoning and the contest is open to all Nigerians, I officially withdraw from the presidential contest in 2023.
“I have also picked the ticket to run for Abia North Senatorial zone and to complete the good work I started in Abia North.
“I urge all my friends, allies and supporters in the APC to toe the line of justice by supporting Senator Ahmad Lawan, a North Easterner for the presidential ticket of the APC.”