I got a number from a friend telling me where Gov. Kalu could be located by phone in Maryland and I immediately dialed the number and there was the governor having his breakfast. He laughed heartily as I told him that I wanted to speak to him about so many of his controversial pronouncements, it was very clear that Kalu is one Governor who love to raise a lot of dust!
Question: Mr. Governor, I saw you in the company of Abubakar in Chicago in 2000 where he had come to receive an award from the Chicago State University, you seem to be close to a lot of corrupt and terrible leaders in Nigeria yet you claim that you want to change Nigeria?
Answer: Yes, I know and love Abubakar very much, because while he was Head of State I know that a lot of people wanted him to extend his tenure beyond the transition program but he refused and I respect him for that, that was why I accompanied him to Chicago for the honor, but the protesters made a mess of the day for us and one of them almost fought me physically (it happened that it was me and I told him so), and we just didn't expect that at all!
Cuts in… But it has been alleged that Abubakar was instrumental to the sudden demise of Abiola who you claim is also your close friend as well, why didn't your sense of justice teach you not to be in company of such a person?
Answer: No, I do not have any information that Abubakar killed Abiola and I am still trying to find out, if infarct he did, I will never greet him again and this was part of why I was visiting Mustapha in prison to ascertain these facts, because you know that a man in prison can tell a lot about what ordinary people don't know. But this government (Obasanjo) stopped me from visiting him and I could not make independent inquiries about those who killed Abiola. I was then not in a position to find out because I did not have the type of access I have now within the national security network, I have not been able to analyze the killing of Abiola very well. I hope we will find that out someday and you can trust that I will speak my mind about it. No matter whose ox is gored.
You make all these outrageous allegations about going-ons in the government- Chief Anenihs tenure at the Works Ministry, Bola Ige's death, Slok Airline's troubles and Obasanjo's Corruption, Igbo Presidency in 2003 and then suddenly you seem to retreat or collapse entirely, this makes you sound like an attention seeking joker?
See, there is no governor in Nigeria that has the courage to speak like I do, I am not afraid to speak the truth, but at the same time I have two parents who are still living and every time they accuse me of wanting to "kill" them, then I slow down a bit and also there is the party machinery and elders who work hard to make peace between me and the president all the time and when they come to me and say ‘ol' boy how can we settle this thing', I let them prevail at times like in the case of Anenih, the Oba of Benin sent a plane to pick me up, he's some 80 years old, it was difficult to turn him down. It is to my credit that I always make strong statements, like the "2003 Igbo Presidency Project" I gave up because my party-PDP chose Obasanjo as its flag bearer and I had to support him as a party man. I had no alternative than to support him!
Tell me about what you feel about the National Political Reform Conference being organized by the President. When are you sending your nominations to the president?
Well, I haven't received any letter yet from the president to that effect, I am currently on vacation. What I can tell you though is that I don't think Obasanjo is serious about this dialogue, I am more in favor of elected representatives of the people going to represent their views at any conference, the people should have been allowed to elect their representatives at a free election instead of the president and governors nominating people, there is no way such a conference can have credibility, that why I think the president is insincere about the dialogue being proposed.
So do you support a Sovereign National Conference instead?
I will not say so- I support it and I don't support it, if I become president in 2007 I will allow the people of Nigeria to determine their choice for an SNC through a national referendum.
You were expelled from UNIMAID for being an activist?
Yes, I was suspended because we had disagreements with the school authorities and they later recalled me back, but my conscience did not allow me to go back. I would not go back to UNIMAID because my colleagues were not recalled and one of them took the case to the Supreme Court. I am an activist to the core; it is only that I am more of a capitalist now than an activist, If I wasn't in government I will be more radical than some of you guys. Even under Abacha, Mustapha detained me for almost 5 months because I did not support his plans to succeed himself. But I have forgiven Mustapha and Abacha.
How did you transit from a University dropout to a mega millionaire in Nigeria, even when you did not get involved in shady deals, as you've always claimed?
I see money the way other Nigerians don't know. I have been buying and selling for a long time, I was always buying and selling products that majority of the people ignore like Palm oil, I manufactured furniture and people buy from me including government, but I have never been a contractor to government. I have always bought and sold stuff and that's how I made my millions…
Let's talk about election rigging in the April 2003 elections it now well known that your party rigged elections everywhere in Nigeria- be honest didn't you rig elections in Abia State as well?
In my state the elections were free and fair, even EU and foreign observers wrote me to congratulate me for overseeing a free and fair election in the state. You see, it was a free and fair election in Abia State that led the current Senate President, Wabara to loose the elections, even though he had been anointed by Obasanjo to be Senate President before the April 2003 elections! He lost and they rigged him in.
Cuts in. why didn't you go to the tribunal to challenge that?
It is not my duty, I did not contest the elections against him, but he knows that he didn't win, so if anyone is saying that people who did not win election should resign it should be Obasanjo first, Wabara next and others, that's only fair. I think they are just witch-hunting Ngige because they don't know what to do with Chris Uba.
They also say that you worship at the Okija Shrine with your mother?
That is total falsehood, I don't believe in those types of things and this is just blackmail from some people. The truth is that I am a core Christian striving to become better with my God everyday. If I was at Okija Shrine my name would have been published from the "Okija register", if only to discredit me. I must say though that the problem with the Nigerian nation today is not where or whom we worship, the real crime in Nigeria is the government that rules the land with hunger and poverty- and that is, this Godless government at the center today.
So, with Obasanjo -why do you hate him so much?
No, don't say that, I don't hate him. I don't hate people. But I also don't like close-minded people who are wicked and vindictive, the president is very vindictive, he doesn't like to be challenged and if you challenge him he will not forgive you. He will do anything to finish you. Right now, he is after all my businesses-He cancelled my bank, Airline, Oil field, NNPC connections and every business I do he goes after. My business employs more than 12,000 Nigerians and Obasanjo is going after their means of livelihood simply because he can't stand the truth. He doesn't have a large heart at all. We have lost more than N12 billion in the last one year, But I don't lose sleep over such things! That's the kind of person the president is!
…And you claim that his anti-corruption stance is a façade?
Yeah, the president knows very well that he is a very corrupt individual. I have challenged him to that effect because I have some of his account numbers and if he challenges me, I will publish them with the amount of money in each of them. He knows that I am not joking, that's why he kept quiet when I made that charge. I gave him N100 million for his campaigns 1998. Let him deny it anywhere!
Even the Western world knows that Obasanjo is very corrupt, that's why they don't take him seriously when he rants about anti-corruption
On top of that I believe the president is involved in some high level assassinations in the country, let me make it clear to Nigerians that the president knows those amongst his aides who assassinate people and he has not done anything to expose or eject them from the government. It is only logical to assert that he's a killer too!
What is your problem with MASSOB, I mean they are peaceful and asking for self-determination for the IGBOs?
I just need to say this to the people of Nigeria, that MASSOB, OPC, Arewa, Niger Delta youths are only complaining because there can't get jobs, and justice from government. That's why I am running for President in 2007, and by the grace of God, I am going to win regardless of Obasanjo's opposition, I am going to win and become president and you will see that the only thing people will be agitating for is how to get more and better pay from time to time, no one will be talking about Biafra anymore, there won't be need for it.
What if you don't win and the injustice against Igbos continue?
I believe that as long as those injustices continue there will continue to be agitation of different types and MASSOB will be justified to continue.
Where will you get the Angels from to help you govern Nigeria, even if you win come 2007?
You should go and ask about me in my state, I don't do favoritism, I will drop any officer appointed by me, if either they are corrupt or don't do their job. I am very well known for sacrificing even my childhood friends if they don't do their job!
You must be fearful for your life at times, apparently you fear for your parents' life?
I am not, I don't believe Obasanjo can kill me, especially if God is with me and I believe God with me and the good people of Nigeria are with me, when I was fighting Chief Anenih, Chief Gani Fawehinmi volunteered to defend me for free and that is what I mean about being supported by great many Nigerians who believe in change. Look at our country it is in shambles and yet people like Babangida who ruined the place for eight years are even thinking about coming back to power, we must all work to stop that and the fear of death cannot stop me from revamping Nigeria!
Now that you have mentioned Babangida, a lot has been said about you fronting for him, as matter of fact, it was widely reported in the media that when African Independent Television (AIT) was in financial crisis, it was you who took Babangida's cheque to Raymond Dokpesi so that he could pay off the loan he owed to a consortium of banks?
That's a big lie, I don't believe in Babangida at all. It unfortunate that after he ruled and ruined Nigeria for eight years he is not even ashamed of himself. He is now planning to come back. I hope all Nigerians will stop him. His return to power will be a calamity. But I am sure he will be stopped and disgraced back into retirement!
What do you think about the sudden ‘retirement' of the police Inspector General, Tafa Balogun?
I don't have many facts about that case in front of me here, when I return back to Nigeria I will investigate for myself. But from what I hear, the IG was a very corrupt person.
See also : Interview with Governor Kalu of Abia State - My Position " Omoyele Sowore was former president University ofLagos Students' Union government, Nigerian pro-democracy activist and campaigner for AmnestyInternational USA. He is a writer and columnist forthe AFRICAN magazine based in New York"