Business mogul and US-based chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Dr. Emeka C. Kalu is one of those who are far from contented with the development of Abia State under different governors since 1999.
A prospective gubernatorial candidate for 2015, Kalu does not want to remain an observer anymore, as he has taken a major step aimed at ruling Abia and changing the political equation.
He spoke with JUNGLE JOURNALIST in an online interview all the way from the United States, pointing out how he hopes to transform the state by reviving the industrial market of Aba, and making the local communities state of the art metropolitan cities:
As a citizen of Abia and an interested observer, where and where do you think a dedicated governor need work on?
There are six key things that any governor must work on- provide roads and accessibility infrastructures,which will lead to free flow of commerce and ease security monitoring. We will also invest in agriculture and agro-biotech industries to increase youth employment, self reliance and job security. We will also provide stable power supply to encourage increase in small scale industries and transfer of technology.
In the area of education, we hope to provide quality primary and secondary education and make it should be made affordable and free to every child in the state. Health care system must be fixed for better affordability of care. Another major focus will be massive rural and urban development. We hope to use this to reduce migration of youths and increase of self reliance within the rural populations.
I can go on and name off the usual “infrastructure, electricity, and the rest but I will be regurgitating platitudes that the citizens paying attention will complete for me from memory. But I’ll keep it simple: A government that works must reflect in the quality of the people’s everyday life. We should have a safe and secure environment to live in peace and get back and forth to our daily cares affordably. Aba, our ancient commercial breadbasket city must be brought back to its old glory at least with all the previously thriving industries brought online to provide employment and economic boost to the state.
How would you rate the current governor of Abia, being very objective?
I can only rate him as an average governor. I have no personal grouse with the governor but Abia State is straining for progress and alleviation from unnecessary suffering. It is logical to believe that the governor in these many years in office must have done his very best; if not, then the people have been cheated with a mediocre governor. On another hand, one is forced to conclude that if what we’ve seen is his best then he leaves a lot to be desired.
Names like Gen Ihejirika, Dr Alex Otti of Diamond Bank,and other such personalities have expressed interest in Abia guber elections 2015. How do you hope to beat them and become Abia Number One citizen?
We respect those individuals in their capacities and their service to the nation. Our campaign team does not look at the names and calibers of personnel. We look at the products and development plans that we bring to the people of Abia. Abians are very competitive in nature so we welcome competitors, the more the better. Our campaign shall work hard to unveil real development projects plan to the people, because we have gone around the state, gathering intelligent information about the needs and demands of each section of our state.
Those are indeed big names Abians are proud of indeed, but names and money alone can only go so far; the main difference is in the passion that my team invests in pushing for the alleviation of hardship for the good people of my dear state. This is what will make ours a campaign of the people, for the people and propelled by the people. As our people say ‘ike oha ka’ (the majority is mightier).
Like Nnewi and Onitsha, Igbos regard Aba as a city with first class industrial potentials that can challenge bigger cities in the West and Asia. How are you going to tap into the industrial potentials of Aba to create a Dubai in the South East?
We are committed in restoring Aba back to the old industrial status. People made Dubai, and we shall make Aba of Nigeria by providing infrastructures and enabling environment for investors, industrialists, manufacturers and distributors to migrate to the industrial city of Aba. First we will partner with the people of Abia and Nigeria to assess the industrial demands of the South-East and South-South who are frequents patrons of Aba. After that we shall prepare Aba Industrial Development Plan(AIDP) and promote the plan for Ndigbo, Nigerians and the world business population to attract investors. We will combine manufacturing and repackaging principles in Aba as it has proven to be very effective in Panama and Dubai. We shall make Aba a free trade zone in conjunction with the Federal Government to attract investors.
Even your question makes our point that what Abia State needs is not really new and foreign ideas but a passion and thirst for progress that simply needs to go with the wishes of the average Abians. We need to revive the ceramics and other such industries of our state, and fuse that with today’s needs and demands of tomorrow. For instance, we can make our state the renewable energy hub of the entire nation if not the continent – and we have the resources to make it a reality very quickly and very affordably. We will invest with intelligence and compassion. We will create a new standard by which the Dubais of this world will be judged. But the aim is to first and foremost give Abians a great quality of life – better than what we experienced in our younger days.
Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Anambra and a few other states governors have won best governors because of development. How do you hope to replicate their efforts to bring that award to Umuahia if elected?
I love the idea of the “Best Governor” award not because of the glory of the citation but because it makes a point that one is best amongst equals. It lets the work of the principals speak for them, no excuses. We all like and respect the best, then you must ask: “How many heads does one need to be his best?” Why are all our governors not attaining this coveted citation? It is simple: passion and belief in the people’s welfare will propel any dedicated servant (which is what governors should understand they are) to put in excellent service 100% of the time. Excellent service leads to excellent results which cannot be obscured or doubted. Our people expect that a blacksmith needing a hint in crafting ogene should model the tail of a kite but then that’s for an incompetent blacksmith. A seasoned and serious craftsman sets new standards and unwittingly inviting admirers. You don’t shoot to win a “best” award, you let your passion drive the progress for your people. The awards will then be mere decorations on your cake.
Our campaign comes with originality of infrastructural development processes and plans that will touch every sections of Abia and every economic sectors in Abia. We do not intend to replicates other governors development flaws, as it is the case today even with winning best governor awards there are development flaws here and there in the states that you have just mentioned. The big picture is in general infrastructures development in the state. We shall have our eyes on even infrastructural development of Abia without any sectional favors.
Igbos have been accused of developing other regions of the country without making much developmental impact on the South East. Can you reverse that trend by making Abia attractive enough to keep youths from migrating out of the state?
The answer is very simple, we will reduce Ndigbo youth migration by providing the rural communities the same basic infrastructures available in big cities through our urbanization plan of making each local government headquarters centers of excellence.
We strongly believe in freedom of choice and competition. In a marketplace if you come with the best products and wares, people will find you before they go to your competition. We have to polish Abia State to restore its shine and make it very attractive – make it stable in terms on security, economy and highlight its natural beauty. This is not rocket science. Again, we don’t believe in repeating tired platitudes that all politicians have memorized. We have a clear road map and true action plans.
Yaradua, Jonathan, and Sambo have been selected from among serving governors to head Nigeria. How do you intend to sell yourself to Nigerians to be chosen for president, when the time is right?
After my work is done as the governor of Abia State, Nigerians will say, yes, we have seen a good leader in this man. It will be combined factors that will make Nigerians accept me to be their leader. So let us dwell first on what I can do in the smaller Nigeria which is Abia State as the governor come 2015, that is what will set the standard for me at the national level. Avoid talking about future presidential ambition at this point, it might be a distraction from the Abia dream.
I am a proud Nigerian but I’m am a passion-driven Abian first and foremost. My sole dream is to elevate my beautiful Abia State and adorn her with elegance and my people (Abians) with a great life experience. We only live once. Until we have realized that vision for the people of my state, all else is off the table. Our people say that to really look good outside, one must start from home. Long live Abia State!