Eminent businessman and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has challenged governments of the United Kingdom, United States of America, Germany and other developed nations to support the anti- corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration by exposing Nigerians who looted the nation’s resources, stressing that previous administrations paid lip-service to the war against corruption.
According to the former governor, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which was established by former president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 to prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalize economic and financial crimes, became an instrument of political witch-hunt and victimization and also noted that the pioneer chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, allowed himself to be used by the former president for unpatriotic motives.
Kalu made these remarks on Tuesday when he hosted a group of graduate African students of the National War College at Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The businessman-cum-politician, who has a pending case with the EFCC said, “Before venturing into politics, I was an accomplished businessman beyond the shores of Nigeria, having built a conglomerate with vast business interests in trading, aviation, publishing and oil and gas.
“During my stint as governor of Abia State, despite the slim resources then, I improved the lives of the people through the execution of a wide range of projects, including free medical and educational schemes across the 17 local government areas in the state.
“In less than six months into my first tenure, the then president, Obasanjo, who was on a working visit to the state named me “Action Governor,” based on the massive rehabilitation and construction of roads embarked upon by my administration.
“Unfortunately, due to my campaign against the third term bid of former president Obasanjo, he deployed federal might against me. He directed Ribadu, former EFCC boss, to clamp down on my businesses (including SLOK Airline, SLOK oil, Southgate and Hallmark banks).
“It is saddening to note that Obasanjo, who used the EFCC to crush his enemies, spent $16 billion on power without any significant improvement in electricity supply in Nigeria. What about the $74 million Halliburton bribe to Obasanjo and his cohorts? It is only in Nigeria that a corrupt person can label another person corrupt.
“In 2005, President Obasanjo wrote to the UK and US authorities to indict me of financial crime, but I was cleared and declared innocent by former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and former US President George Bush.
“I am a victim of political blackmail as I ruled Abia State with my conscience and the fear of God.
“However, I am happy that the current leadership of the anti-graft agency, under the new Nigerian government has been focused on delivering on its mandate without fear or favour.
“I wish to appeal to the western world to help Nigeria by exposing those Nigerians who have looted the country’s resources to invest and buy choice properties in Europe, USA, UAE, Asia and Middle East. The international intelligence agencies have a critical role to play in fishing out those that have stolen the common wealth of Nigerians”
On the issue of Boko- Haram insurgency, Kalu applauded President Buhari for keeping to his promise of restoring peace in the North East of Nigeria.
He said: “The President used his experience as retired General to devise combatant means to crush the terrorists. The Nigerian military deserves commendation for their gallant strides in the devoted fight against terrorism.
“I salute the courage, boldness and patriotism of the military personnel, who have contributed to the success of the anti-terrorism war.
“I want to admonish the Federal Government to reconstruct the villages that were wiped out by the insurgents through the provision of Special Intervention Fund for the North East and Plateau State.”
Speaking on pro-Biafra agitators, Kalu lamented the marginalisation of the South East in all ramifications and also, noted that 46 years after the civil war, the region has not been fully integrated into the Nigerian nation, adding that the poor state of federal roads and other social amenities in the SouthEast is alarming and disturbing.
“The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) are borne out of the grievances of Ndigbo. Even though there is a law in the United Nations that recognizes the right to self- determination, as I have mentioned in the past, the approaches of IPOB and MASSOB are faulty as dialogue is a better medium for the people to express their concerns to appropriate authorities.”
On President Buhari’s incessant visits abroad, the former governor said: “No country can exist without the support of others. Mr. President’s visits to different parts of the world are in best the interest of Nigeria.
“In the area of investment, the president has been able to woo foreign investors to Nigeria by giving them confidence. Image is key and Mr. President has done well in redeeming the damaged reputation Nigeria had in the global community.
“Just recently, the Nigerian government signed an agreement with the UAE to ensure the repatriation of stolen wealth housed in Dubai.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on President Obama to pay a working visit to Nigeria in order to further strengthen the bilateral relationships between Nigeria and USA.”
The former governor poured encomiums on the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. James Entwistle and the former and incumbent British High Commissioners to Nigeria, Sir Andrew Pocock and Mr. Paul Arkwright, respectively, for promoting diplomatic ties between Nigerian and their home countries for the sake of social, economic and political development of Nigeria.
Kalu, who is a big player in the upstream sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry, said, “In view of the drastic fall in the price of crude oil globally, the time is now for the Nigerian government to roll out entrepreneurship programmes in the agricultural industry in order to diversify the economy.
‘The era of white collar jobs is over, everyone has to go into farming for the sake of Nigeria’s ailing economy.
“I, personally, have diversified into commercial agriculture with the establishment of a large farm covering over 10,000 hectares of land in Ugwueke in Bende LGA of Abia State…”
Kalu, while decrying the state of Nigerian economy, called on the Federal Government to set up an independent economic management team, in the face of the global economic challenges, to advise government on a road map to reposition the local economy, adding that government must provide the enabling business environment for local and foreign investors to invest.
On the Abia North Senatorial rerun poll, Kalu said: “The rerun election was marred by widespread irregularities perpetrated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its agents.
“The same atrocities that were committed in the March 28, 2015 election were repeated in the March 5, 2016 rerun poll.
“However, I wouldn’t want to go into further details as I have protested the controversial result at the tribunal through my legal team”.
Nigeria born Habib Kamil of the prestigious institution, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, expressed appreciation to Kalu for giving them an insight into the state of affairs in Nigeria, with particular reference to politics and economy.