By Emeka Okoroanyanwu
Renowned economist and two-time Minister of Finance, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, has expressed his profound gratitude to The Sun Publishing Limited for finding him worthy to be honoured with the prestigious The Sun Lifetime Achievement Award 2016.
Speaking while receiving a delegation from The Sun Publishing Limited, led by Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Eric Osagie, in his Lagos home, Kalu said: “This is great honour to me. Thank you for finding me worthy of the honour. It is a great pleasure to receive this honour.”
Kalu, a World Bank consultant, was effusive with his praise on the meteoric growth of The Sun.
He said: “I praise what your newspaper has done in such a short time. I am very impressed with how you have helped nurture the newspaper up till now. You have encouraged bold journalism, because the truth is so important in everything we do and that is the legacy the youths have to learn.
“When you realise that truth is the thing that stands, that reduces our tendencies to be cutting corners. It gives those who are coming behind us the confidence to speak the truth. The truth is very important in what you do.”
The former minister challenged the mass media to go beyond exposing sordid happenings in the society to hold people accountable.
On the Nigerian economy, Kalu lamented the total breakdown of all sectors and sees the inability of the different sectors to interconnect as the bane of the economy.
“The interconnect is not there. The much we have done has broken down – the roads, education, rails, power, infrastructure; they have all broken down,” he lamented.
In his view, Nigeria’s economy has gone beyond recession and depression, saying: “The country’s situation is worse than recession. What we have is a collapse of the entire system; we have a much deeper problem than recession and we have to do certain things to get back. We have a structural problem, which requires a lot to fix: in education, health, environment, unemployment, agriculture, power etc.”
He sees holes in every facet of the economy, saying: “We have been using imports to fill the holes. This is because of poor policies and poor leadership at every level. There is a problem of leadership at every level: private sector, public sector, churches etc,” he said
Kalu said there were procedures in tackling the country’s numerous economic problems, while warning that Nigeria should not look at quick fixes for the economy, as that will not solve the problem.
“We can first have a full appreciation of the enormity of the problem. Let us not look at just quick fixes. There are no quick fixes,” he said.
While presenting the letter notifying Kalu of the award, Osagie congratulated the former Finance Minister for being among the few to win the award and for his services to fatherland.
He told him: “I am here on behalf of the management of The Sun Publishing Limited to formally notify you as one of the winners of our most prestigious awards –The Sun Awards. Your award is in the category of Lifetime Achievement. It is for elder statesmen, heavyweights. The winner must be 70 years and above and must have made significant impact in the life of our nation. That’s why it is a Lifetime Achievement Award.”
The MD gave reasons for choosing Kalu for the award. He said as far back as 1984, Kalu was already Commissioner for Finance and Planning in old Imo State, noting that Nigerians, who were old enough then, would remember the famous “Imo Formula,” which galvanised the entire community to take part in developing their community.
“You were also Finance Minister under two administrations. We also noted that you were Minister of National Planning and what you did there is now a matter of history. From there you moved to the Ministry of Transport, where you introduced the Mass Transit System in the country. We also noted your efforts at the World Bank, where you handled the development of the Pacific regions and Asia in the 1970s.”
On The Sun delegation to present the letter to Kalu, were Executive Director, Special Duties, Bolaji Tunji; Editor, Daily Sun, Onuoha Ukeh; General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Services, Mrs. Neta Nwosu and Editor, Special Projects, Emeka Okoroanyanwu.