CHIEF DR. EMEKA KALU, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and Director General of Atikulated Agenda 2019, is a former governorship candidate of Abia State under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He spoke to our reporter on the recent screening and confirmation of ministers-designate, insecurity, among other issues. Excerpt:
What is your impression on the Ministers-designate confirmed recently by the Senate for President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term cabinet?
Well, I will be plain without sounding apologetic. First, you need to have sound economic policies before you begin to talk about drivers. I don’t know if we presently have any since 2015. There is more to this exercise that meets the eye. There are a lot of issues about the ministerial nomination that would bluntly tell you that we should not invest high hopes in such an exercise.
You will agree with me that the essence of screening of the nominated ministers is for us to assess their readiness to serve when they defend their expertise in respect of the posts or the portfolio they were assigned. Now, the first flaw was that their names came without portfolio, which is a sign that the process is already skewed. Then, like a well-plotted script, all we were hearing was “Take a bow and leave”. This is the most ridiculous process I have ever witnessed anywhere around the world. But, if I were to borrow the words of my good friend, Dino Melaye, “The process was a beautiful nonsense”.
Having said this, what else would you expect from a process that is already described as “Beautiful Nonsense” by the actors themselves? When you later assign portfolio at your own whims, we would end up having round pegs in square holes.
How do you see the way the Senate cleared all the 43 nominees?
You already heard me. The process was a well-plotted script that was followed to the latter. So, I will say nonsense is nonsense even when it is beautiful. In one popular movie, ‘Mr Bones’, he said, “poo is poo, even when it is coming from my prince”. Is there anything as “holy poo”?
What is your take on the statement by the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, in which he said that Ndigbo should be grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for giving them the number of ministers they got when they gave him (Buhari) very little votes?
Oshiomhole is a man associated with loud mouth. When you give a child something bigger than his imagination, he will ask you, “Is this for me and who?” For the position he holds now, he thinks he has all the powers to act everything he talks. After fighting Okorocha so hard and boasting about it, Okorocha still made it to the senate, which tells you all you need to know.
As for being grateful to Buhari for giving Ndigbo ministers, it is laughable. We know very well that the constitution stipulates that the kitchen cabinet must be formed from across the 36 states of the federation. Knowing the antecedents of Mr. President and his open display of love for Ndigbo, I am surprised if he would have appointed them anywhere at all if it were not enshrined in the constitution.
President Buhari is supposed to be the President of Nigeria, so anyone making it to look as if he belongs to him is misleading the President and that is possibly why everything seems to be going anti clockwise since 2015.
What is your view on the continued detention of El-Zakzaky and FG’s declaration of Shi’ites as a terrorist group? Do you see government’s action being capable of calming or infuriating the group?
Well, this is a sensitive issue. I issued a statement on it. I am not in support of the protests and the causal effects it has continued to generate. But, I think we should look beyond the surface and apportion blames appropriately.
You will agree with me that the competent courts of jurisdiction in Nigeria have issued orders for the release of this man which have continued to be flaunted by the Buhari-led government for whatever reasons best known to them. By so doing, he has eroded the integrity of our judicial system. That is bad. Then suddenly, the same Buhari, who has been disobeying court orders, goes to the same court to obtain permission to proscribe the Shi’ites and he decides to execute it immediately. What do you call that?
It means that our President is so above the law that he obeys only those ones he wants to while jettisoning the ones he deems unfavourable to him. It will be a very big mistake to think that this singular action will eventually calm the Shi’ites. In fact, we should be ready for more surprises. Whatever the reason they are still holding him, they should also put into consideration the already tensed peace of the nation. We have issues of bandits, herdsmen/farmers clash, IPOB, militants and kidnappers, and so on. How much more do we wish to create?
How best do you think the current insecurity situation in the country could be better handled for best results?
It is simple. Bring every party round the table and jaw-jaw. Only dialogue can assuage the many insecurity challenges we face via reconciliation. Atiku offered practicable solution to them and that is why we are still optimistic that it can be achieved in the nearest feature.
Do you foresee the possibility of South East producing the president in 2023, as both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), the two major political parties, are likely to pick their candidates from other zones?
I don’t just foresee it. Rather, it is the right thing to do in order to give Ndigbo a sense of belonging as part of this great Nigeria Project. All Ndigbo needs to do is to build political bridges and make positive alignment in preparation for 2023. Only a united front and purpose can guarantee it for Ndigbo. But, I am telling you it is the right thing to do at this material time.
How do you think your party, PDP, should overcome the 2019 electoral loss to make positive impact and possibly take over the rein of governance in 2023 elections?
There is the need for the PDP to rein in their horses and go back to the drawing board to reinforce. There is a great task ahead between now and 2023. If the PDP has hid their card to their chest, the APC wouldn’t have had a field day in rigging the 2019 election as it did in 2019.
I blame the party’s leadership for allowing disunity to rob us the 2019 poll. They forgot the exigencies of harnessing their acts and working like a team. I recall the outright sell-out of the PDP senators that cost them the senate presidency, which was shocking.
PDP leadership needs to do much more to bring unity among the members. The PDP members have been all loyal to selves. They place personal interests above party loyalty. That is the only explanation why almost all of them reportedly received bribe at the dying minute and voted against their own party member in the Senate. It was a big shame.
I am a party man. I have always emphasised on party loyalty. Loyal party men don’t jump from one party to another at the slightest sign of challenge. Even before the election was over, some people abandoned ship and left Atiku alone thinking it was over. I was asking myself, were these people actually with us in the true sense of the word ‘US’? How can a supposed friend quickly abandon you at the slightest sign of challenge? I see this as one of the bane of our success as a party and a trend that should be checked in toto.
On this premise therefore, I advise that if PDP will make headway like the great party she is, they must learn how to put their acts together and work like a team because the task ahead is enormous. In the same vein, I am calling on the party to keep hope alive because I believe that Atiku/PDP will still come out victorious at the ongoing tribunal. PDP is a great party to reckon with any time any day. Our success lies in our ability to unit as the great party we are while shunning self-interest and putting the interest of the party first.
We should never lose focus as a result of the antics of the power grabbers because victory is ours. It is our responsibility to retrieve the mandate of the people from plunderers and harness it against 2023. If we don’t pull ourselves together now, we may still find ourselves grappling for what rightfully is ours. Let us rebuild PDP on the strong pillars of unity and party loyalty so that 2023 will be a walkover for us.