Former Governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, has explained that his interest in having Igbo at mainstream politics, with the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the pivot, was to ensure they have links and connection at the central government and benefit from it.
Reacting to the comments by Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, in Lokoja, while delivering a keynote address, entitled, “Mainstream Igbo in Nigeria politics,” during the inauguration of Ndigbo Support Group for Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB), Kalu said his political decisions have always been in the interest of Igbo and Nigerians.
He said Igbo ought to be strategically positioned at the centre stage of politics.
Said he: “A few weeks ago, Fayose granted an interview, saying I am deceiving the Igbo. How can I deceive the Igbo when I am taking you to the centre stage of Nigeria politics, when I am taking you to be part of Nigeria’s decision making, when I am taking you to stand with 24 governors than to stand with 10 governors? How can I deceive you when you will be part of ministerial decision? How can I deceive you when by tomorrow you will be part of the Federal Government than to stand with a minority party?
“This is not the spirit of an Igbo man. Our spirit is to belong where other Nigerians are. That is the spirit other Igbo man should carry along. As Igbo, it behoves on us to stand by the truth.
Kalu advised Governor Fayose not to make his criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari personal, but to base it on performance.
Said he: “My friend, Governor Ayo Fayose, should focus his criticism on President Muhammadu Buhari on performance and not on his family, not also going personal. When we were in government, we focused our criticism on former President Obasanjo’s performance for the interest of our people. I didn’t go personal when I was governor under the Obasanjo government. I based my stand on issues.
“On third term agenda, I was very specific that it was unrealistic and could not stand. I said then that instead of dissipating energy on third term, the former president should construct our express roads, allow the Igbo to trade freely, not stopping Igbo people from clearing their goods in Port Harcourt and Lagos. Those were the issues I fought legitimately.
“A governor elected by the people should not go personal. Fayose is my friend. We always talk on phone and in persons. I was among the founder of PDP. In fact, if PDP was a company, I will own 90 per cent of it. I raised the money that was used in funding PDP. People who never knew where PDP was formed came in and vandalised the party, vandalised the country’s resources. We thank our president for restoring the image of this country in the eyes of the world.
“Politics is all about interest. Politics is not about damage of families. He should criticise purely on performance and leave the president and his family alone. He should criticise government’s policies that will reflect the interest of Ekiti people and Nigerians in general.” Commenting the agitation for break-up, Kalu stated Nigeria should be talking of taking over some western countries and not separation.
“There is no section in our constitution where referendum was mention. As Igbo, you must stop listening to people telling you that we can have Biafra tomorrow. If you want referendum, then the constitution has to be amended.
“If I am allowed to say, as a Nigerian, we should be prepared to take other West African countries and not to divide our country. China is a country with over one billion people, yet they are together; but a country that is not up to 200 million in population is saying it cannot stay together.” Kalu, therefore, urged Igbo to make themselves strategic allies, seek strategic partnership with other interest groups and political blocks in order to achieve whatever developmental ideas they have. It is obvious that the Igbo cannot do it alone. Development of Igboland is a task that must be done, but not in isolation.”
The former governor urged Igbo to be strategic in their actions and partnership, build alliance, in order to reap the benefit of Nigeria.
“We cannot achieve this if we remain antagonistic to one another. We cannot achieve this if we scare everyone. We cannot achieve this if we think it is Igbo and Igbo alone. No, we must build necessary networks. We must build alliances across the political divide. These are very important. If we don’t build such alliances, we may not be able to market our demands,” he added.
Also speaking on the occasion, Governor Yahaya Bello, insisted that the unity of Nigeria was non negotiable.
He hinted that his administration deliberately appointed non-indigenes, particularly, the Igbo to occupy strategic positions in his government, saying that Kogi State would soon become the unifying factor in Nigeria. The governor, who formally inaugurated the Ndigbo Support Group for Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB), said he was going to challenge other governors in the South East and other zones to replicate similar gesture.