Chief Emeka Charles Kalu, a seasoned politician and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, is the National Coordinator, Peoples Democratic Party Coalition (PDP Coalition) and Director General, Global Initiatives for Good Governance (GIGG). He spoke to EJIKEME OMENAZU on the state of his party and President Bola Tinubu’s palliative measures to poor Nigerans. Excerpt:…CONTINUE READING....CONTINUE READING
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has requested and got the National Assembly’s nod to spend N500 billion of the Supplementary budget as petroleum subsidy palliatives. How do you see the development?
I commend Mr. President for his decisions to extend the hands of relief to Nigerians in this critical time. This shows that the government is truly concerned about the suffering of the people and the need to provide palliative support to tackle the situation. Since Mr. President declared a state of emergency of food security, the government is left with no option than to intervene in the form of palliatives to prevent the economy from grossly hitting the rock. The disbursement method of the palliatives is of paramount importance as the government is expected to ensure fair play and also work to protect the funds from being diverted by those entrusted with the functions of managing them.
How do you see the way the government wants to spend the N500bn subsidy palliatives? Do you have any suggestions in that regard?
Palliative distributions in monetary form need to be planned in such a way that it gets to the masses for which it is meant, especially the youth. The government is advised to set up a non-permanent national management council to regulate the funds using national data identity, computation and distributions . For instance, using the National Identity Management Commission platform in creating payrolls through which a stipulated amount of money between N15, 000 to N20, 000 is paid to Nigerians on monthly basis as palliative stipends. The government should beforehand determine who is qualified to receive this funds ranging from the less privileged, unemployed youth, the physically handicapped and other categories of people who are unable to provide three square meals on a daily basis. The government should make it a monthly stipend directly controlled by the designated national office to save the funds from being looted when it is eventually committed to state governments’ hands for distributions to the citizens. Through this way, the funds it is believed will reach the hands of those who truly deserve reliefs.
People are already mooting the idea of a possible presidential rerun between the APC, PDP and LP. Do you think that the INEC as it is presently constituted can conduct a free, fair and credible rerun between the contending three parties?
This is one major problem facing the Nigerian political system. Red tapism as it is technically called in public service administration usually confronts speed and consistency in the business of governance. Honestly, the tribunal is supposed to have concluded findings on the elections and give judgment. But here, we are still waiting in hope. Secondly, it is abnormal to be imagining a re-run election when the court in its discretion has not decided so. As far as I know, it is illegal to preempt the likely outcome of a matter already before a court of competent jurisdiction. The judiciary must be allowed to do its jobs and until it finally pegs verdicts, all contemplations are mere illusion, sky and cosmic star counting.
Gov Hope Uzodimma recently increased the state’s minimum wage to N40,000 as palliative for removal of petroleum subsidy removal. What is your reaction and that of the PDP to the action?
To the best of my knowledge, Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, made a commendable move to have felt the need to address the prevailing harsh economic conditions in the country. For him to have opted to increase Imo workers’ minimum wage with additional N10, 000 to the widely accepted salaries and wages standard is a good step worth emulating. The true picture of leadership is the ability to do well and make decisions capable of transforming the lives of the governed. It does not matter which party is in power, rather the focus should be on the services rendered to the general public. As a progressive minded fellow, I would love to see the government increase the minimum wage to N150,000 at least to boost the lives of workers who have been dejected due to poor conditions of services. Impactful leadership is one built on delivering on campaign promises, infrastructural advancement and increase in income and salary structure. So, kudos to Senator Uzodimma for these hands of incentives and more are expected of him as he goes the path of leadership.
Several people, including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, have been calling on President Bola Tinubu to release the IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Do you think his release will have a positive effect on the polity, especially in the South East which has been on regular sit-at-home?
Nnamdi Kalu’s continued commitment to DSS windowless detention is in gross violations of his fundamental human rights. His arrest from Kenya was illegal and his continued incarceration without trial is a blow to the dignity of man. President Bola Tinubu heeding the pleas of South Eastern Leaders of Thought for the release of Mazi Kanu will permanently heal the wounds of sit-at-home syndrome bedeviling the region. We, the Igbo leaders are not using force to secure his release, rather we are approaching Mr. President diplomatically, peacefully and with all sense of humility, appealing for understanding. Being a detribalised leader, i am strongly confident that Mr. President is giving his ears to our pleas. The South East has lost over 150 Billion in the hands of weekly Monday sit-at-home and we would not want it to continue sucking us down. With the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the South East will automatically breathe a fresh air of peace and harmony. As a defender of rule of law promised us during his inaugural speech, Mr President will be celebrated and to a large extent, enjoy the full support of Igbo nation as he considers it good to free Kanu from solitary confinement .
Why is the sit-at-home in the South East still being observed despite several orders by the state governments and even the military?
You know the clamour for secession is a fragile issue that requires seasoned wisdom and approaches in handling. It is an ideology injected in the veins of the agitators and the governors’ push for its stoppage mustn’t be with the use of force. Their belief is that they are being marginalised and can’t continue to live together as one entity with other parts of Nigeria. For this reason, they raised their flags for secession which attracted government resistance. This monumental challenge continued that today, their leader is in custody without trials. Had the governors moved for charting the Federal government for the consideration of Kanu’s release, his fans could have seen a level playing ground to come on a round table for resolving things. The use of force by the governors killed the chances peaceful approaches could have gone to an extent in achieving. Again, some hoodlums to an extent had hijacked the true motives for agitation and now sheepishly hide under IPOB philosophy of liberation to perpetrate crimes in the region. Here, I keenly support the use of force by the government security apparatus in tackling them. The state government in conjunction with the law enforcement agents are called to be proactive in working to ensure Southeast is not hijacked and taken siege of by hoodlums who wickedly in the name of enforcing sit- at – home order turn the region into a blood bathing ground.
What are the latest developments in the PDP towards returning Imo State to the party come November 11 governorship election?
The party is working harder to win the hearts of the Imo electorate to vote PDP en masse in the November forthcoming election. We are in a society where things are followed philosophically. People want to see the outcome of their votes in the type of policies and works the governors are doing. This usually guides their votes in future elections. PDP has been a strong party despite pockets of crisis that greeted it prior to the 2023 presidential election. Senator Sam Anyanwu, the PDP’s candidate has been a man of integrity all his life and the good people of Imo State need change for a better tomorrow. We are doing our best and I am sure we have good control of the grassroots people who are the block voting capacity in Africa political society. I see Senator Anyanwu holding a green card to the Imo State Government House and his victory will be a landmark without hard hit contention.
What would you say is the state of your party, the PDP, at the national level considering that several top members of the main opposition party have been trooping to Aso Rock to meet with President Tinubu of APC?
President Bola Tinubu said his government will not play with compliance with the rule of law and the law is made by all of us for the interest of us all. PDP stakeholders going to meet Mr. President is betrayal of trust or disloyalty to their party. Few weeks ago, Senator Pius Anyim, former PDP presidential aspirant, and Chief Olisa Metu, PDP former National Publicity Secretary, visited Mr. President in Aso Rock on an important mission of appealing for Nnamdi Kanu’s release. That does not mean they are carpet crossing to APC. It is only in Nigeria that a party in power ignores experts and technocrats from the opposition while giving appointments, which Mr. President promised Nigerians that his cabinet membership will be made from across party lines. This will write his name on the plate of excellence as he complies with his promises. PDP and Atiku Abubakar still have their case in court contesting the validity of Tinubu’s victory in the recently conducted presidential polls. That should not deny members of the party recognising Mr. Tinubu as president until the court proves otherwise. I am being professional, unselfish without any feelings of parochialism in treating issues of national concerns. PDP is solidly healthy and full of strength to go into elections, even at the moment. For your information, Senator Adamu, the National Chairman of APC just resigned due to pockets of crisis in the party and that tells you that no party is free from having issues when circumstances call for them. The only thing is not to allow such challenges degenerate into divisiveness or worsening to the extent of scattering the bundled unity of the party’s structure…CONTINUE READING