Former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has said that only ill-health can stop President Muhammadu Buhari from seeking re-election in 2019.
He said Buhari as an honest man would tell Nigerians at the right time whether he would seek re-election or not.
Kalu who spoke to aviation reporters on arrival from Abuja yesterday at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), Ikeja, Lagos, said:
“Buhari is an honest man. If he is interested in running, he will tell Nigerians that he will run. You know Buhari is also a man of conscience, if he feels his health will not allow him to seek re-election he will not go ahead.
“But, if he feels he is capable of running he will seek re-election. We pray that his health gets better and that his doctors give him a clean bill of health.”
Kalu also called on the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to accelerate the mandate of reconciling aggrieved members of the ruling party.
Said Kalu: “We need to thank Mr. President in his wisdom in giving the mandate to the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the opportunity to reconcile members of the party. I am very excited that such a thing is happening.
“I am confident it will be a good beginning for my brother and friend, Tinubu, to execute the reconciliation task very well. I am confident Tinubu will be blunt to settle feuding members of the APC.”
Kalu said although the Igbo in the South East had been cheated over the past decades by successive governments, the Buhari administration was committed to reversing the trend. He argued it would be the right thing to allow the South East take a shot at the Presidency in 2023.
Said Kalu: “Other parts of Nigeria have been cheating us (Igbo) since 1960, but today the issue is that we must build national cohesion.
“The problem with Nigeria is the inability to build national cohesion by all stakeholders. We are still talking about tribe; where people come from and what people think about their religion.
“We need to impress it on all Nigerians that we need a country where all stakeholders feel a sense of belonging. Not minding where they come from or where they live, they should feel at home whether in Ogbomoso, Lagos, Ibadan, Sokoto, Enugu, they should feel at home.
“The earlier we have that sense of belonging the better for all of us.”
He said the call for Igbo Presidency in 2023 by some political gladiators in the North only resonated with the principle of fairness.
“It is the right thing to do, Nigeria is built on a tripod, when you allow the South East to have the Presidency by 2023, that will be the end of the civil war.
“The South East has had the Chief of Army Staff, the Inspector General of Police. So it is only natural for the South East to have the Presidency.
“No man has the capacity to divide this country, the country will fight such a man. It is not possible, so the fear in the minds of people that the Igbo are pushing for secession only amounts to imbalance in perception.
“Take a look at Lagos State, Igbo have over 50 percent of investment here. Go to Abuja, almost 70 percent of its investment are owed by Igbo.
“So, where are the Igbo going to go outside Nigeria? All these kinds of talks are just blackmail. We should stop the blackmail.
“An Igbo president will bring prosperity to Nigeria, because the Igbo man or woman had the capacity for business and investment in areas outside their homeland.
“Igbo presidency is a thing the country should do with joy and pride in showcasing an Igbo man as President.”
On the importation of palm oil into Nigeria he said: “The Ministers of Finance and Agriculture should immediately convene a conference for stakeholders in that value chain to sought out the issues. All imported palm oil in Nigeria should be banned, whether it contravenes the conventions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or not.
“We need to protect the agricultural sector of our economy because it is our mainstay. We need to consider farmers growing farm produce and cash crops, especially palm oil, the farmers cannot sell their produce because the big giants are importing palm from Malaysia, so how do we develop our own economy?
“Look at what Buhari has done in the rice cultivation value chain, it is almost zero importation, why can’t we adopt such model for palm oil?
“Government should immediately ban the importation of palm oil to enable farmers have money in their pockets.”
Kalu threw his weight behind Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent call for the establishment of state police, noting that it would go a long way in addressing the various incidences of crime in some states.
He said it was time for Nigeria to grant the request of states to own their own independent police units noting that it was a position he canvassed in 1999 when he was elected Abia State governor.
He said: “State policing is what I called since 1999. That was after three months that I was elected as governor. I said there was a need for state policing and I was the first governor in Nigeria who supported state policing.
“Having been governor for three months, that was precisely September 1999, I said there was need for state policing and that was the only way to stop armed robbery.
“When we were in Abia, we were able to stop armed robbery operations because we had collaboration with the Bakassi boys and the police.
“We should have the federal police like the FBI and all the rest of them, so that they can handle all the serious issues while the state police will handle local issues.
“State police should be able to handle local issues. It will be very difficult for anyone to use state police to intimidate aggrieved political opponents.
“The state police commissioner should not be appointed by the Federal Government, but should be directly elected by the people.
“State police will not be anybody’s stooge, sincerely state police will be part of the ingredients that will complement Nigeria’s unity and democracy.
“Let me sound a warning to governors that will use state police for their selfish end, because the laws are not so strong.
“The laws of Nigeria should become strong, we should not be above the law. The beauty of any country is the independence of its judiciary, absence of such independence is arbitrariness, it is a dead end.
“Whenever there is recklessness of the executive arm of government or rascality of the National Assembly, the judiciary serves as a check. Our judges should stand up to defend democracy and people’s right.”
On the ruling by the court, which restored his degree awarded by the Abia State University, Kalu said it was needless to discuss such issues because he challenged the infraction by the Abia State Government, which withheld his certificate:
“I went to court to challenge my maltreatment. I did not go to fight anybody with any weapon, I could have gone on to fight , but rather went to court to challenge the infringement on my right.
“This is what I want all Nigerians to be doing. The sanctity and strength of the judiciary is a strong pillar for Nigeria’s democracy.”
Kalu also said government needed to have a second look at issues bordering on open grazing and cattle colonies, which he said was serving as a disincentive to farming.