Ndukwe Ikoh is an industrialist and a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia State. He speaks on how the Federal Government can cushion the effect of the negative impact the Coronavirus has had on the economy. He also speaks on the need for the presidency to come to the South East in 2023 and the recent Supreme Court judgment that was in favour of Senator Orji Kalu.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in favour of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State, saying that his case should be retried. What does the judgment imply for the judiciary and for Abia North, his constituency?
The judgment like many others will certainly impact positively on the country’s jurisprudence. The Supreme Court, legally speaking, is infallible and we must always respect its decisions. Kalu has always been a superlative performer in his service to Abia people and he will just continue to do what he does best for his people, which is to bring about development and quality representation.
Abia people love him so much so that when the news of his faulty conviction came in December 5, 2019, people were shocked. We, his close allies began to pray for divine and legal intervention. We are very grateful to God for the turn of events and shall continue to pray to God that He sees OUK through until he is fully vindicated. Abia North shall continue to experience the Kalu touch in all positive manners. We love him dearly.
What short term strategies should the government take to immediately strengthen the economy and prevent it from entering recession as the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies? Was the government wise in accepting more loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) considering that this administration has borrowed billions already from countries like China and there seems to be nothing to show for it?
The COVID 19 pandemic is seen the world over as a war that came with a totally unprecedented devastating impact. It cannot be compared to any plague in history in terms of economic and social damages. In fact, COVID 19 gave a world that was on a roller-coaster a punctuation that will leave almost an eternal scare on the body of a confused world. Nobody had prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude and cost, even the super powers. The strategy now is to do anything other nations are doing to sustain the fight against the virus.
The Nigeria government must continue to be innovative, share other countries’ successful innovations and apply all the internationally accepted safety modules in the struggle to defeat this deadly pandemic. The short term economic strategy at war time is to sustain a living economy. Any strategy that will ensure food security to the people is good for now. The government must scale down on major capital projects and face the challenges in health care and food sustainability.
Regarding economic recession, I believe we are in it already just like other countries the world over. It’s a global recession. I think the question should be, when shall we come out of it? Post COVID 19 socio-political and economic activities shall provide a clear pathway on recovery but the world would not be the same for a long time to come.
To your second question, for me there’s nothing wrong in picking profit-oriented loans. As for the loans the government has taken so far, we must be very careful in criticism without carefully understanding where the loan has been put in use. The country has a plethora of problems, in security, infrastructure, poverty, etc and we can all see the government’s strides in fixing these challenges. Only a blind critic would say the government is doing nothing at all. Loans should be applied to fix the country and those are justifiable loans.
There have been numerous complaints that the Federal Government’s distribution of COVID-19 palliative has been concentrated mainly in the North. As a member of the APC from the South East, how should the government address this issue?
From my constituency in Ohafia, Abia State, we receive the same report on daily basis of the Federal Government negligence especially at this period of dire need. If I, a leader of my party, says this and other leaders say the same of their respective constituencies, then indeed something is wrong in the way and manner the ministry saddled with the distribution of any such social intervention funds is carrying out its function.
The people’s representatives at the National Assembly must ask poignant questions in this regard now, to correct the anomalies. Every section of the country must be treated equally. The method of engagement must be clear to everyone and not hazy.
What do you think are the chances of the APC in 2023, given that not a few Nigerians believe the party has done well?
APC will return to power at the centre in 2023, all things being equal. Yet there are always accidents in politics; accidents of internal squabbles, wrong candidates, etc. If any of the accidents happens in the APC (may God forbid), then anything can happen. But we can’t lose the presidency based on performance, not at all. The government has been reconstructing the country and it has been doing the job so diligently.
Is it time for the FG to lift interstate travel restrictions and also air travel?
We can’t afford to open up interstate movement without caution now. This has to be done in sequence, considering the relative prevalence of infections per state, and begin a systematic return to states connectivity. It is going to be a very difficult decision but advice of experts and all the relevant agencies of government on COVID 19 must be applied in making this decision. Caution is the word.