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GOVERNOR of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has given reasons why he wants to contest the 2007 presidential election. Speaking to journalists in Lagos, last weekend, the governor enumerated the ills of the Nigerian society, the abundant resources that the country had been blessed with, and said the people had no reason to be hungry or poor.
GOVERNOR of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has given reasons why he wants to contest the 2007 presidential election. Speaking to journalists in Lagos, last weekend, the governor enumerated the ills of the Nigerian society, the abundant resources that the country had been blessed with, and said the people had no reason to be hungry or poor. According to Kalu: "Electricity supply is irregular, food is scarce, life and property are not safe, the roads are in bad shape, diseases and hunger ravage the people, no potable water and unemployment is rampant". He said these were ills of society that any humane government would solve.
He used the occasion to clarify his position on the face off with the Code of Conduct Bureau. The following day, the governor was in church to honour an invitation by Archbishop E.A. Ademowo, Archbishop and Bishop of Lagos at St. Paulís Anglican Church, Kirikiri Town, Lagos. At that epoch making occasion, the governor was conferred with the award of Pillar in Kingdom Demonstration by the church. He performed the primary function after the singing and dancing and praising God by laying the foundation stone of the church. He later donated N5 million for the completion of the church project.
With journalists, the governor had reacted to the controversy regarding his ownership of a foreign account and the Code of Conduct Bureau position on same, saying there was no controversy. The position, he said, was real. "It is not a controversy. It is real, I have never hidden the fact that I have a foreign account. I have never said that I donít have a foreign account. In 1999, I declared my foreign account, and that foreign account is not even in my name. It is not my account per se, it is owned by Slok Investment. Slok Investment pays for my childrenís life policy, my wifeís life policy, and everything".
He continued: "Owning a credit card is like owning a bank account, so I cannot throw away the credit card because I declared it. That is what is on the table. I declared it even at the Code of Conduct Bureau, acknowledging that I had complied. Then when I said I wanted to be President, they went there and brought it. If people are not looking for my head, they will not be closing my businesses. They have tried to close everything I have. They have tried everything to catch me, but they have failed.
"They left security people in the Ministry of Finance in Umuahia for the last five years and they left security people in the bank to see if I am stealing money, but no, my public funds are shared by Labour and the Accountant-General..
"I have a foreign account under Slok Group and I am not going to close that account because it is a company account". The governor said the constitution allowed him to declare what he had which he did and, according to him, this account had been operational since 1987. He said the spirit of the constitution on the foreign account was to check criminal tendencies. "If there is any criminal tendencies I have done, and it is traced to the account, that is where it is a criminal offence. So, what I did was to declare what I have and I declared it in 1999, I declared it in 2003. I said, for your information, this account is there and it is open for verification. What else am I supposed to do?", he stated.
The governor said the account was tied to his insurance, mortgages and everything. "Moreover, you know, I came from the United States to contest, I am an American resident and the constitution is also silent on that. Above all, it is a criminal offence for me to carry American Resident Permit, if I am not having an account to pay mortgage. But if they had done their job very well, they would have found out that the account is not in my name", Kalu explained.
He reminded journalists that he was already challenging the matter at an Umuahia High Court. "I have stopped them. There is a court injunction for them to stop and come and listen to the court. They must obey court rules. If they refuse to obey, I am not going to appear there. The attorney-general had sent a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the Code of Conduct Bureau also sent a SAN, so they will not say they donít know about the matter. They were in court when the judge said, Ďokay, stay proceedings, let me hear the caseí. The Code of Conduct Bureau is expected to obey court orders, and in this case, the Umuahia High Court order is superior", the Abia governor declared.
He carpeted those who expressed doubts about his seriousness in the quest to be president in 2007. "I know some journalists who were invited when The Sun (his newspaper) was being conceptualized, they expressed reservations, they said I wasnít serious. Today, they must think differently. I know some coaches I approached in 1999 to come and coach Enyimba - the history making football club of Aba. They said, Ďno, no, you are not seriousí. Looking at Enyimba then, they said what I was contemplating was impossible. I can call names of the coaches. Even, I know some of you in 2003, who never believed I will come back for a second term", Kalu said, adding: "Gentlemen, I cannot be more serious".
He said to him, everywhere in Nigeria was home, and that he was an acceptable candidate to even Nigerians living abroad. "I am the best accepted candidate for the presidency", he said, adding "The only way I will drop my ambition is if, and only if, the PDP, as a matter of deliberate policy, decides that Southern candidates must stop. That is the only proviso that can stand between me and this quest".
Last Sunday, Kalu used the opportunity of the foundation laying ceremony at St. Paulís Anglican, to unveil to the people his now well-on-the-road project of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu for President 2007. In an address with a theme: Nigeria at 45:
Love and kindness
Do we count our blessings or our blessings donít count?, the governor told the gathering that he and his entourage had travelled from Abia State to worship with them and to thank God for His many blessings. "I cannot thank God enough for His love and kindness towards me and my family and the government and people of our state all these years", he said, pointing out: "God has never forsaken me even in our darkest hours. He has shown by the way He has seen me through many of my difficulties in life that He really has a purpose for me".
He continued: "I do not think there is a better way to show appreciation to God than to come to His temple with praise and thanksgiving". He wondered why a nation blessed with abundant rich mineral and material resources to make it great could sink to the ranks among the most corrupt nations in the world.
The governor listed the ills of the Nigerian society to include the wickedness in the land, greed, stealing of public funds, murder, assassinations, sabotage, arson, injustice, slander, mutual suspicion, back-biting, sex for marks, cultism, robbery, occultism, child-trafficking and drug abuse, asking: "Can any nation under the grip of these social problems ever make any meaningful progress?"
Kalu recalled the brutal murder recently in Abuja of six innocent Igbo traders by the police, saying the Igbo have been at the receiving end of police brutality since the end of the civil war in 1970, "What is our sin?", he demanded. He however reminded the audience that he had not come to the thanksgiving service to talk about the marginalization of Igbo people, rather he was there to seek Godís face in prayer and solicit the support and intercession in his bid for the presidency of Nigeria in 2007.
"I assure you that I shall not relent in my effort to reposition Ndigbo in our nationís socio-economic life. No sacrifice is too much to make for the emancipation of our people", the governor said. "I know I am a target of political victimization but I cannot be intimidated, I will continue to speak the truth no matter the price I am made to pay". And to his persecutors, he said: "If those fighting me like, let them close down all the businesses I founded before I became governor, that will not stop me from promoting the cause of the poor masses", Kalu said, to the applause of the large gathering.
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