Says FG’s N500b Social Devt was money thrown into the Atlantic Ocean
•I’ll create an economic miracle for Nigerians
By Prisca Sam-Duru
The level of confidence that Senate Chief Whip and former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, exudes while speaking about his ambition of becoming the next president of Nigeria, is quite intimidating and surely, many will fall for it.
This is in spite of some of the issues many would term as odds against him, such as the alleged fraud hanging around him as well as competing with the likes of Chief Bola Tinubu in the same party- All Progressives Congress, APC.
But Senator Kalu has since on declaring his intention of joining the race for the presidency in the 2023 general elections, boldly expressed his readiness to clinch the APC’s presidential candidate ticket, describing himself as the most qualified to take over from President Buhari especially if the presidency is zoned to the south.
“The only two zones that have not produced president in Nigeria are the southeast and Northeast,” Kalu said, emphasising that if his party zones the presidency to the South, then he is good to go. He speaks further to show that he is unperturbed by insinuations. “Apart from the gang-up to put me in prison, I don’t have any record anywhere. I’m not afraid of anything; I’m only afraid of God. I’m the most prepared presidential aspirant because even if I’m old, I’m young at heart. The most important thing is the business of unity of the country. I’m not afraid of anybody because I’ve not done any illegal business before,” he boasted.
While speaking on the subject matter on Arise Television, Sen. Kalu categorically denied having any charges of fraud against him. “I don’t have any charges hanging around me, it is you press that creates what you call charges and I am not supposed to talk about matters in court, because you should know better than what I went to court to do is not ‘charges’ but to ask that some of my assets be released. “That matter is in the court and I would not like to discuss the matter further.
You knew me before 1999. You knew I bankrolled all the money politicians paid during that period in the PDP. So, how can I become a thief suddenly? People are pursuing me because they know I want to be president from day one”.
At this juncture, he refused to say further on the fraud issue, warning Dr Reuben Abati and his colleagues against probing further on a matter before a court of competent jurisdiction.
Who exactly are those pursuing the former governor of Abia State and for what reason or purpose? “They are Nigerians who want to be president. They are Nigerians who want to set me aside; they just want to destroy me. There’s a lot of jealousy in the system- a lot of people who think I became successful at an early age. The question is, why must I have money and have power. Is life like that? These people carelessly put me in prison for six months for doing nothing. I’m not bitter about it because it is God’s will and it is our court system that put me in prison. There were 19 witnesses in the court and nobody called my name or traced anything to me; I don’t want to talk about this matter. Don’t drag me into it”.
Away from the fraud matter as he requested, Senator Kalu makes known the priorities of his administration should he emerge as the president of Nigeria next year. “My first priority is to give Nigerians freedom from terrorism, bandits; anything thing you call it, from the Sahara Desert to the Atlantic Ocean. I’m capable of doing that. My first priority is the security of people’s lives and property. “When I was governor of Abia State, the first thing I did was to clean the place up of criminals from 1999 – 2007. If people will say the truth, they were moving freely. And I rescued Anambra State also after I gave them the security road map for the State to survive because my wife is from Anambra state. I helped the then governor to put a security system that rescued Onitsha, Nnewi which were no go areas”.
The second priority of his administration that is if he wins, would be to “Restore Nigerian people’s confidence that they are Nigerians so that they can go anywhere in the world and say I’m proudly Nigerian. This is the dress I want to wear because confidence is everything. We have lost confidence in where we come from”.
The Senate Chief Whip is also confident in his ability to solve Nigeria’s electricity challenges which no president has been able to tackle since independence. “We will go back to commercialised electricity to make sure we restore electricity to our people. Once we have electricity, we have everything and other things will follow. I will create an economic miracle for Nigerians. Politics should be bygone and I would like everyone to feel that we are all Nigerians and that we can manage the economy very well. Our primary focus will be economy and security”.
On how he hopes to handle calls for restructuring, self-determination or secession, he said, “I don’t know what you people call restructuring. You have to restructure a country when you are safe. So, I’ll first face the issue of terrorism, hunger and restore the confidence of our people. I will first ask the National Assembly to go back to the constitution; you cannot restructure without the National Assembly.
So, I will use legal means to persuade the National Assembly to do what Nigerians want. I know that the country needs some adjustment to make progress”.
Blaming State governors instead of the president for allowing terrorism and banditry to thrive in their states, Kalu explained that “The issue is not Buhari but if every governor is putting their feet down and say, you cannot do this thing here, we will not be where we are today.
So it’s about people knowing what they ought to do as governors. “I’m not saying that they have not done anything; I like governor Zulum and Wike. People might not like governor Wike but I like him for his ruggedness, and also as the governor of Enugu State. Buhari is just the president of Nigeria. Governors need to stand up and fight the war. More of those fights lies with the governors”.
Asked if this is not the reason for calls for state police, he said, “I’ve always believed that we should have state police. I don’t have the same opinion as to the president on this. I’ve always believed that if we have a bill for an act that can convince the National Assembly to amend the constitution, why not, we need to put checks and balances on state police because it is very good and also very bad, otherwise, we will be seeing what the governors are doing to the local governments’ fund. The local governments are supposed to be very independent.
“I believe the governors are not engaging well; most of them don’t carry stakeholders along. When I was governor, I had regular security meetings with security personnel, traditional rulers, youth, etc. Unless governors go back to start doing that, there’s not going to be a change, Buhari can never fight for the governors for security”.
Aside from blaming the governors for prevalent insecurity in the states, he also blamed the bad economy for activities of armed bandits, saying that “APC has done very well but they have some imperfections especially regarding the economy which is where I’m an expert and why I want to address the economy”. He added that “I disagree with some policies of the administration, for example, the 500 billion was money thrown into the Atlantic Ocean.
I’ve said it before the president, and his late Chief of Staff. I advised them that instead of using 500 billion naira for social development, which was worthless as far as I’m concerned, the money would have put the country back to productivity if invested properly.
For the first year, in 2015, you could have given out loans to business people that have landed for agriculture; they will employ people. If you give them the money directly from Central Bank without a middle bank, so that there’ll be no stories, the money will generate income and put us back to productivity. We will be able to increase production and feed ourselves.
In the first three years of being president, you will see that Nigerians will be feeding themselves. They’ll produce for consumption as well as export. In the fourth year, you set the small scale industry up in the same way, giving different businessmen 10 billion to buy automobile equipment to be able to produce. Nigeria must go back to production if we want the system to survive”.
Sen. Kalu is among few prominent individuals who have paid visits to the detained leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, as part of moves to have him released. But recently during an interview aired on Channels TV, President Buhari said categorically that Kanu will not be released but should face the law in court. While airing his view on the matter, Kalu who refused to disclose the content of his discussions with Kanu during his visit, said, “There’s a court process which has to finish.
We will see if we can ask the president for a pardon. When people are asking the president for pardon, what pardon are they asking for? I believe the case is already in the court of competent jurisdiction and I don’t want to discuss it. “When Nnamdi Kalu was in Kuje prison, I was the one with top security agents who went to the president to beg him and he was given bail.
I didn’t bail him out but it nearly took my head. I went to Nnamdi Kalu’s parents and told them to beg him to do his IPOB but not outside. I handled IPOB when I was governor. I gave them the red line; you can carry your flag but if I see you with arms, I’ll come after you. You say you want Biafra, there’s nothing wrong with that. You can carry your flag and not harass or kill people”.