Former governor of Abia state, Dr Orji Uzo Kalu is used to locking horns with ex President Olusegun Obasanjo. In this interview with IBRAHEEM MUSA, the All Progressives Congress(APC) chieftain was reacting to Obasanjo’s recent statement, where he advised President Muhammadu Buhari to, among other things, shelve his 2019 second term ambition. Dr Kalu took the elder statesman to the cleaners as accused him of corruption and self righteousness.
In your reaction to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s statement on the state of the nation, where he advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election, you said that Obasanjo does not have the moral right to advise the president. Are you saying that all is well with Nigeria under this administration?
Honestly, from the rot that the All Progressives Congress(APC) government met, I will say that President Muhammadu Buhari is doing his best.
I am not saying that he has done is uttermost best but he is doing the best he can to salvage this country, considering what he met. Before he came, Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) was completely empty; money was carted away from the Central Bank without record. Have you ever heard anything like that before on earth? People looted the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC).
People looted all departments of government. So, how can Buhari function? Moreover, Buhari’s sickness was an act of God. He never knew he will be sick. So, we thank God for his life. We thank God that he has gotten better.
Former President Obasanjo is used to writing letters. He is the only angel on earth. When he was president, nobody was criticizing him. If you criticize him you become his enemy. This man does not own this country! His brought corrupting into politics.
I was a governor under him. I had written him a letter and he has not replied. As governor, I wrote him and said that the corruption that he was talking about is under his table. He has not replied that letter till today. He knows that the international security agencies know that he has stolen a lot of money and channeled to some banks and industries. It is an open secret. If he doesn’t know, I know. So, all these his self righteousness should stop.
Honestly, former President Obasanjo is supposed to be in jail; he is not supposed to be moving around. Jonathan was supposed to put this man in jail; he was lucky because we had already agreed with Yar’adua that he is supposed to be in jail. He spent $16 billion on electricity. A man who came into office with only N20,000, go to Otta and see how his farm has been upgraded. Go to Abeaokuta and see his mansions. Where did he get the money from? He sponsored his failed third term but he denied doing so. Should Nigerians continue to trust a man like that!?
I am surprised that people still greet Obasanjo and open their houses for him to enter! That is the truth! I am very, very surprised! His letter to Buhari is just sheer arrogance. I still insist that he has no moral right whatsoever to have written that letter.
Your relationship with former President Obasanjo was cordial when both of you were in office. Was it when the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) refused to repay the N700 million loan that you gave to the party that your relationship became sour?
No,no,no. I loaned N500 million to PDP and President Obasanjo said that they should not give me back. Chairman Barnabas Gemade said I should be paid and he quarreled with Gemade, a very honest and gentle man. My quarrel with Obasanjo is not about that loan that he asked the party not to pay me. My quarrel is that he wasn’t doing what the constitution says he should do. After all, he christened me Action Governor of Nigeria in Aba when he came to commission projects.
So, my quarrel with him is his greed and self righteousness. The only righteous person in Nigeria is OBJ. How do you think a man like that can be useful to this country? He misused an opportunity given to him by God.
God gave him the opportunity to be an elected president in 1999 and he used that opportunity to acquire so much wealth for himself and left the country that he was asked to take care off. He sold almost all government properties to himself and his cronies by way of privatisation. And he thinks people don’t know?
President Buhari should investigate the activities of Obasanjo to know where we stand.
In spite of his health challenges, do you still think that President Buhari should seek a second term?
Of course President Buhari must run! There is no health challenge! Are you his doctor!? In June when I said that he will come back healthier, your paper attacked me, all the newspapers attacked me. But he came back healthier. You are not his doctor. And it is in the best interest of every Igbo man, living or dead, for President Buhari to be president for another four years. It will give us opportunity.
After his second term, it will be the turn of the Igbos to produce the next president.
But when the Igbo delegation went to Aso Rock to endorse him for second term, you were not there. Why were you excluded from the visit?
No, my name was on the list; my brother represented me. I was in Namibia at that time. Mind you, I visited the president for a dinner on Thursday night and flew out to Namibia. On Monday morning, they came back for that courtesy call. My name was there.
I am a great supporter of Buhari right from when he was running in 2003. And we gave him a chieftaincy title at Igbere, his title is Nwanne Jidamba, that means a brother that is elsewhere. When Obasanjo said that he should not come to Abia, I invited him to Abia and I followed him to wherever he went, even though I was a PDP governor. Apart from that, we thought it wise to give him an honorary doctorate degree in our university, Abia State University. They tried to stop it by DSS but I said no, we are independent. So, these are the issues.
I’m not a new comer, I don’t beg any president for anything. I have never asked Obasanjo for a favour, I have never asked Buhari for a favour. I never asked Jonathan for a favour. I never asked Yar’adua, though he was my friend. He gave me the title of Magayakin Katsina, he wasn’t the emir, he was the president. Yar’adua asked Abba Ruma(former Minister of Agriculture) to call me three days to the event. I never begged for the title. It was President Yar’adua that gave it to me. In life and in death, he is my friend.
It is argued in some quarters that by campaigning for Buhari’s second term in office, you are actually campaigning for yourself so that by 2023, he will support you to be president when it is the turn of the Igbos. How true is this argument?
No, no, no that is not the issue. The issue is for us to campaign for Buhari. Anything can come after that. I am qualified to be president, I am not afraid of telling you that. If the time of Igbos comes, I will be in the forefront. I have everything it takes to be president. I can finance it, I can fight for it, I have the six indices of power. So, I don’t see any reason why I cannot contest if the opportunity is given to our area.
But what are doing to expand the acceptability of APC in Igbo land?
We have done a lot; I’m sure you saw our rally in Abia state. That was the first rally that APC had that it’s really called a rally. It was not about any governorship candidate, senatorial candidate, presidential candidate; it was just our rally to show the popularity of our party.
So, we are working very hard in the South east. We have been able to explain to our religious leaders, our community leaders and traditional leaders that APC is not branded as it is said by people. And moreover, the support for Buhari is not only about me. You saw Governor Umahi of Ebonyi state the other day saying that he will go for his second term on the platform of PDP but will vote for president Buhari in APC. You read what the national chairman of APGA said the other day? He said that they may endorse him as their presidential candidate. PPA is not left behind. So, all political parties in Igbo land are endorsing Buhari. Forget those who are making noise; Igbo are very smart people. We know that we are going to follow Buhari and vote for him for another four years.
But it was advertised that Buhari will attend the Abia State Mega rally. He didn’t come and didn’t send a representative. What happened?
No, no, no Buhari never promised anybody that he will come for the rally. What happened was that the state chairman wrote him a letter and he didn’t reply the letter and he didn’t say that he will come and didn’t say that he will not. The timing was so short for him to have come because he was abroad when we planned the rally and by January 9th we had the rally. So, there was no way that they could have given the president 10 days notice, considering his busy schedule. I told them that it wasn’t going to be possible, having been a governor for eight years.
You advised a group of Nnewi businessmen who visited you a few days to the Anambra gubernatorial election that they should vote APC. The election has been lost and won. Why did APC lose Anambra state?
President Buhari is a very honest man. He removed his hands from rigging. I can tell you this authoritatively. He told them that nobody, I was there, should rig the election in favour of APC. There was no how, if the election was not rigged, we could have beaten Obiano who is a very popular governor, who is paying salary to workers in the midst of governors who were not paying salaries.
He was doing roads in the midst of people not doing anything. He is with his people and has curtailed the security problem in Anambra state. Obiano was just like my second term in 2003, when Obasanjo said that I cannot go again. But the people of Abia state prevailed. It’s the same story. Nobody could have stopped Obiano unless that result was written in a house which Buhari was against. It takes only a president like Buhari to do that. If it was PDP, they could have done Carry Go, which they have been doing.
In spite of the fact that the son of Chief Odumegwu Emeka Ojukwu defected to APC, the party didn’t win…
You can’t say that. APC has made inroads in Anambra state. Chris Ngige will tell you the same thing and everybody will tell you the same thing. This is a party that had less than 5% in 2015 and in 2017, we had 35.5%. So, we have made tremendous inroads and I am very happy with the results. I’m very happy with the efforts I made. I’m very happy with the efforts of many people; although most of our party people sabotaged us and worked for APGA. So, we expected that and we saw it.
What happened to Slok Air, the airline that you started?
What you are trying to do here is to bring back Obasanjo. Obasanjo is a killer of business. He is a killer of democratic process. There is no pint of democracy blood running in his veins. So, this is why I am surprised that somebody like Obasanjo is writing letter to Buhari.
Obasanjo sacked 5,000 workers of Hallmark Bank. We had 14 aircraft on the fleet of Slok Air and president Obasanjo kept these aircraft for 15 months on ground. You should know how much loses we incurred. Then he went to cancel the license of Hallmark that he had no business to touch. He went and took our oil licenses and oil blocks. So, you can see a man that could have been a statesman becoming wicked.
He had the opportunity to turn this country to any of these Asian Tiger countries. But out of wickedness, he didn’t do that. I wrote him a letter and I am going to write another letter to him and copy president Buhari. He has charges to answer because the international intelligence agencies know that he looted Nigeria. And we know the banks where he put these money. And that is the truth; he put the money in two banks.
Can we know these banks?
No I won’t mention them now.
Can you give me a snippet of what you will write in the letter to Obasanjo?
I cant give you any snippet; I am going to write a letter to Obasanjo and President Buhari. Two letters will be written by June this year and there are going to very hot letters.
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