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2015: It’s wrong to say Jonathan shouldn’t contest – Kalu, ex-Abia gov


Recently, the former governor of Abia State and Founder, SLOK Group, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, went to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) where he donated some computer sets and promised rewards for the best graduating students of the insti­tution.
After the event, he retired to his NEYA Camp at Igbere, Abia State, where he ad­dressed a select group of journalists on his businesses and varied national issues, in­cluding why it was wrong for anybody to say President Goodluck Jonathan should not contest 2015 elections if the Chibok school­girls were not rescued by October. Daily Sun was there. Excerpts:
We were at Nsukka few days ago where you donated some computer sets to the department of Economics, UNN. Just few months after that promise you fulfilled it against what politicians are known for.
I am not a politician; I came into politics by accident, possibly, I am an entrepreneur. I went to deliver lecture at the Department of Economics of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and I asked the deputy Vice Chancellor and the then Dean of Social Sciences, Academ­ics, Professor Ugwu Osoh, what was their greatest need. They took me upstairs and said they just built the departmental library and that they didn’t have equipment to support it. I asked them like what; they said computer and I instantly made them a promise.
I went beyond what they requested by giving them also laptops and all the rest of them so that students can use them to make their learning easier. Apart from having the desktops, I also provided them with laptops. I thought it was also wise to give the over­all best performing student in the entire uni­versity a prize. We also thought it was wise since it was the Department of Economics that brought us to the university and we de­cided to give prizes to the best graduating students from the School of Social Sciences and the Department of Economics. These things were delivered by my Foundation, Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation.
It is noteworthy that the computer sets you donated are from SLOK Technology, one of the numerous companies you own, could you give us an insight?
The 20-something desktops and the 10 lapstops we donated were our new brand, they were SLOK brand; we have gone ICT. Very soon, we will be coming out with the SLOK mobile phones and the university was very lucky because it was a brand that just came by air cargo. We tested them in the United States of America and Europe to patent them. So, those were the first set of computer sets we have test-run in our labora­tories. University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is very lucky to have been the first university with the SLOK brand.
When did this SLOK brand come into being?
It is not even in the market; it is going to be in the market in the next few months. We are working very hard to make sure the mobile phone should be here before October ending or thereabout. The brand would be such that would make Nigerians proud. That brand would make both the country and SLOK group proud. People would be surprised that it was a Nigerian company that branded SLOK computers and mobile phones.
There have been these calls from some quarters for Mr. President to re-contest in the 2015, what is your reaction?
When I stepped down that I would not run for the presidency in 2015, we stepped down for President Goodluck Jonathan to run. So, he must run. I do not see any reason he would not run. There are no hindrances, nothing is encumbering him not to run. It is just, pos­sibly, it is not time for him to declare; at the appropriate time, he will declare.
I know that there are certain things like the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls and all the rest of them. They are very unusual things that happened in the country. They are things that give leaders sleepless nights. They are things that make any leader not to feel good; they are things that make the sys­tem not to be active.
When you see leaders like that, such things are very disheartening. Moreover, when Nigerians are taking what is not total­ly a routine thing that is motivated by poli­tics, they are taking them so serious. People should stop fighting President Jonathan the way they are fighting him; he is not the own­er of the country, he is just our president.
People should support Jonathan to suc­ceed because if he fails, Nigeria as a whole has failed and if that happens, it would be very bad for everybody. Go and see what is happening in other countries, some of them are recovering; some of them have not re­covered. We should not allow that to happen in our country.
Additional four years (which Jonathan is going to govern again) in the life of a coun­try absolutely means nothing. He can have the four years if he wants so that there can be peace in the country. I am assuring you that members of my family and I, my numerous supporters wherever they may be in Nigeria are going to vote for Jonathan in 2015 unless he would not want to contest.
Let us look at the statement by the northern elders that if the president can­not get the Chibok schoolgirls out by Oc­tober, he should forget about his ambition in 2015.
No, no, no, he cannot forget his ambition; Jonathan is the president and I know he feels the way I do. This Chibok schoolgirls issue gives me sleepless nights. It makes me to cry whenever I remember them, it makes me not to eat. It also makes me to think back any time these insurgents kill Nigerians and I know the president feels the same way too.
These are things countries go through. We should also know that, that would not stop any president not to run for election. We love those girls so much; they are our hope of tomorrow. But we should not because of one incident say the president should not contest election, it would look like a blackmail.
Nobody can say Jonathan will not run election because of Chibok schoolgirls un­less if he is not interested in running. When 9/11 happened in the United States of Amer­ica, it was a big tragedy but that could not stop President George Bush from running for re-election. I think what our political leaders should do, both North, South and East is to join hands with the president and find where these girls are and rescue them. They could be my daughters; they could be anybody’s daughters.
It is true Jonathan is the president; he is the Commander-In-Chief but he has to work with people. He is trying his best to find those girls and he should not be crucified. My only initial grudge was that government kept quiet for sometime when it happened but now, the president is doing something commendable. I know he will do everything to get those girls out.
If you were the Commander-In-Chief and we have this situation at hand, what would you have done?
So much would not have changed. The truth remains that there is sabotage; it is not really the fault of Jonathan or the Army, as some people would want Nigerians to be­lieve. The Army has done very well, the se­curity agencies have done very well.
The insurgents have sophisticated weap­ons they are deploying. I think the Federal Government has just realised that and it is affecting our budget. That we are spend­ing much to stop these insurgents. I want to congratulate our soldiers and other secu­rity agents for the sacrifices they have made for the nation. Nigeria has one of the best armies in the entire sub-Saharan Africa. We have never experienced anything like this before. Insurgents, planting of bombs, they have never been part of us, as a democratic country, even when we were under military regime. It is totally new that we are seeing this kind of thing. With time, the various governments will find solution to all these. There are things people don’t understand, there is no difference, even those who want to take over from Jonathan, they are not bet­ter. They are not going to perform any magic, this is the issue.
People of Abia State appear presently to be in the political wilderness, waiting to be shown the direction, do you think other­wise?
No, there is no direction to be shown to these people; they voted for a man whose tenure is almost over. Inasmuch as they should be patient, it is better for them to re­view whether the man has done well or not. Before, they said I was the one stopping him from working. It is left for Abia people to decide.
I don’t like to discuss the Governor of Abia State publicly; I will always like the people of Abia State to take their decision. If I want to say anything about the governor, I write it in my column; “Kalu Leadership Series” so that I can take responsibility of what I said. Outside that, I don’t like to discuss him at all, whether in public or in private. So, for the few things I have to say about him, it will be in that column because that is the right thing to do. I am doing a favour to the system, to write what I feel about it. I will spend time in few months to write my experiences in gov­ernance, my experiences in what we believe in, what we did and what we didn’t do.
There is this rumour that you are nurs­ing the ambition of contesting for the senatorial seat of Abia North in 2015, is it true?
No, people are angling that I should go to the Senate. I never told anybody that I would run for the Senate but there is that high pos­sibility. Yes, I’m a Nigerian; I’m entitled to it. As I am not running for the president of Nigeria for the reason I had given earlier, I should run for the Senate. I have not said I am running but there is high possibility, why not? I think I should be the best representa­tion to Abia North Senatorial District and also the best representative of Igbo people and Nigeria. I’m going to represent Nigeria in the Senate so to say if I’m eventually there.
You established The Sun Newspapers that is doing very well in country and beyond and you went ahead to establish another newspaper, New Telegraph, what was the reason behind this?
The reason we have done that is to contin­ue giving journalists and Nigerians opportu­nities to serve the people. Ours are not news­papers for opposition or for anybody; our contract is with the people. We create avenue for people to air their views and that is why we are not partisan; we don’t support any political party. We will continue to give the Nigerian people the information they need. We are accountable to the Nigerian people, not to Jonathan, Buhari, PDP or APC. Our media group is truly accountable to the Ni­gerian people.
When you spoke at UNN recently, you said you were going to industrialise Igbere and Abia State in general, could you ex­patiate?
As we go on, people will see what we are going to do. We are going to bring in facto­ries that are going to package home applianc­es here. We are going to bring in industries that are going to do a lot of packaging for export, charcoal, banana juice, all for export. Everything we will build here will only be for export.
There is also the aluminium product for export. We are commissioning a factory in Aba, which we have started test-running; we are also going to build it here in Igbere. We have built so many things in Igbere almost ready to take off, you go and see things for yourself.
I have no regret coming back home. I am almost 54; I need to come back home as soon as possible. Coming home is excit­ing for me because I believe I should retire here. I believe in few more years, I will no more like to live in Lagos or Abuja; I will not like to be spending time in any place. If I want to go to Abuja to go and visit people there, I should operate from Igbere because it has always been my dream to operate from home. I don’t want to operate from home be­ing lazy; I would like to operate from home doing something.
There is this University of Science and Technology at Igbere that was supposed to have taken off, what is holding it back?
That university will start very soon; watch and see. We have got all the necessary ap­proval.

 Biafra Galaxy

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