•Says Nigeria will exit recession in 2019
Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu has said that President Muhammadu Buhari came to power at a time there was recession all over the world, adding that the situation was made worse by the fact that the president equally met an empty treasury.
Kalu, who spoke on AIT monitored programme said the President was putting every necessary stimulus into the economy to ensure that the country exits recession by 2019. He disagreed with those who said that the country was already out of recession, saying, “When I see people who said they are economists saying we are out of recession, I say they don’t understand what they are talking about because we are not out of recession. Government already has a roadmap to be out of recession and I can assure you that this government is determined to see it happen. But, you can’t just tell people that we are out of recession; you can’t do that because the indices are there. What the president and the government are doing is to continue to pump in stimulus, which is what the economy needs to come out of recession. And I can see us moving out of recession in 2019.”
The former governor also said that the president is under pressure from the international intelligence communities not to say more of what he had seen about looting in Nigeria. “The president is restraining himself because if he opens his mouth to say what happened in NNPC or central bank, Nigerians will not feel good about governance,” he said.
Kalu equally said that the problem in Libya, which led to upsurge of emigrants into Nigeria and the president’s health challenges, caused a lot of havoc on his plan for the country. He said: “And secondly, with the world recession, you also had problem of people migrating into the country from Libya because of the problem there, and some of them came in with a lot of arms. You also see that the president became sick and the medical attention also caused a lot of havoc on his plan. I am not speaking for him because I am not his spokesman but as a party man, I believe he has done well in some areas.”
He noted that the president has not done very well in terms of economy, but added that “he is grappling with it. There is a lot of stimulus going into the economy.”
On why he ventured into politics, having achieved so much before the age of 29, he said he went into politics to help communities and serve the people. “That is why when people talk, I laugh at them because by the time I was going into politics, I have worked anywhere I liked. I was a member of First Bank, Hallmark BanK and Oando boards. I was also chairman of two banks and I was solidly a cocoa trader, a rice trader and a successful industrialist. I have one of the largest furniture factory in Maiduguri and the Happy Home furniture in Kirikiri, Lagos,” he said.
As the governor of Abia State, he said his major achievement was giving education to the people of Abia and its environs. “I was able to give education to our people; they had no education and I am very proud to say that. The kids get excited when they see me on the road today,” he said.
He also narrated an incident where a young lady openly accepted that what she got in Abia State under his administration was real free education. He also stated that Abia State under his administration had started with free education up to the secondary school level even before former President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme.
“People were paying N7000 in Abia State university because I was paying N93,000 for 35 students. We wrote cheques every month to give back to the university. They pay N7000 and we made it up to N100,000 by paying N93,000. Even before Obasanjo came up with the UBE programme in primary and secondary schools, we had full free education for secondary schools in Abia State. People from other states enjoyed it. The greatest investment we made was in education. We also built a lot of roads but those roads have collapsed today,” he stated.
When asked the rationale behind his eating akara on the road side with common people, Kalu said: “It is not about common people; it is to practice what I started with. It is only fools who think that they have arrived and that they cannot go back.”
He said that during the last Christmas festivities, he visited many houses to dine and wine with them in his Igbere community. “In a day we visited almost 50 houses. That is how I started and I can’t stop. Even if you make me president tomorrow, I will still do the same thing because that is the right thing to do.”
He argued that when the rich interact with the poor and give back to society, there would be peace. He also said that there is zero percent robbery and violent crimes in Igbere because as a community, the rich have decided to associate and socialize with the poor and give back to the community.
“In Igbere, there are good people who are sociable and religious. We are trying to portray our community for what it is. There are so many people who do community service; they give back to community. We agreed as a community that we must be giving back to the people. Our last cultural festival was superb. We don’t do medicine in my community. In Igbere, there is no native doctor because we don’t believe in it. We believe in God,” he submitted.