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Back You are here: Home News Personal Interview We must not waste the opportunity of the National Conference --- Elder Kalu Uke Kalu

We must not waste the opportunity of the National Conference --- Elder Kalu Uke Kalu

Elder (Dr.) Kalu Uke Kalu (CON) has come to symbolize one of the most dynamic agents of innovative changes, propelling management, business and economic services in bracing up the challenges of global competition. Kalu worked on so many economic policy formulations in Nigeria in the last 40 years. He was Lecturer and later Acting Head, Department of Accountancy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; External Examiner, in Accountancy, to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and to the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu. A one-time Director of African Continental Bank Ltd, 1976-1979, and Magnum Trust Bank Ltd, 1992 -1996, he also served as Chairman of Union Bank of Nigeria, Plc, 1996-2004.
Eminently published in professional journals, Kalu has contributed in such books as Management and Financing of Small Business in Nigeria, among others. He is a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria. In this interview with Kelechi Deca conducted on the sidelines of the recently held Igbo Colloquium in Enugu, Elder Kalu bare his mind on the state of the Igbo nation, the ongoing National Conference among other things; excerpts.

How would you describe the state of the Igbo nation in today’s Nigeria?

It is traumatic in a way because we knew that we fought a war and lost a war, and anywhere you fought a war and lost, you will have some problems. But having said that, contrary to views in some quarters, we are not doing badly, we have tried to weather the situation though we still have a long way to go. Our people are very enterprising and we believe if they are able to get their acts together, work together, they will be able to achieve a lot. This is what this Colloquium is all about; to help the Igbo people rediscover themselves and to help uplift them from some of the problems besetting them.

Many are of the view that 43 years is more enough for a people who suffered a terrible war situation to bounce back. Those who think this way seem to say that many of the challenges the Igbo are facing today are self-inflicted. What is your take on this?
I agree with you that we have self-inflicted problems but l would not want us to exaggerate the problems we are facing today. Though the problems are there but things are changing. The Igbo are everywhere today and are doing quite well in different spheres of endeavours. We may not be having what l may term our fair share in the country but our people inspite of the difficulties are doing marvellously well in whatever fields they find themselves.
Even the young people are proving themselves in different professions. Our people should acknowledge what our problems notwithstanding that their kiths and kin are doing well all over the world. Having said that, we must accept that there are issues that need to be addressed. We must strive to do better. We need to re-examine ourselves, our culture, our traditions and our different ways of life, to see if it is to our benefit or detriment. I do not think we should sit down and spend all our days sulking about our situation. In 43 years we have done a lot, even in the first few years after the war we were able to make some visible impacts. For example, when we returned after the war, we discovered that most of our businesses had been take over by others, but within two or three years after the war, we were able to regain those businesses and in less than a decade, those businesses rose to the commanding heights in their sectors. l think we should focus in ways to overcome our present challenges and acknowledge that we have made relative progress instead of emphasizing on the negatives.

The National Conference has kicked off, while some have expressed disappointments that it is not a sovereign national conference, while others say that it is a right step in the right direction, what is your take?

Yes there has been this argument on whether it should be sovereign or not sovereign, but my take on that is that you cannot have a sovereign national conference when you already have a sovereign government in place, one will have to vacate for the other. The two can’t be there at the same time. But as I said elsewhere, you can discuss your differences after which you will reach an agreement. You can put the necessary procedures in place to activate what you have agreed in discussions. Let us not deceive ourselves, there is the need to talk, there is the need to sit together and discuss. The country is not going the way it should go, so the discussion is important to help us identify areas that need attention so we can make amends. We should be excited about this opportunity to sit together and discuss.

The issue of Nigerian president of Igbo extraction has become a reoccurring decimal especially during election years. What is your opinion on this and do you think the Igbo have done the necessary ground work in this regard?

We should not dwell on this as such. It is something we should work for and we have not worked on it the way we should. We need to work hard on it and also fortify our unity of purpose. With determination and sense of purpose, we will be able to achieve that. It is not something we can pursue alone as Igbo, we need to carry others along. Nigeria is a big country and no one ethnic group can on their own efforts alone elects anyone as president of Nigeria without the help and inputs of others. We have to do a lot of work and convince others of our expectations in this regard. But first we have to ensure we are united in purpose, if we achieve internal cohesiveness, then we will be propelled to woo others and let them buy into the mission of electing an Igbo as president of Nigeria.

On that, we have to mend fences with our neighbours and all the bordering ethnic groups and remove all the suspicious surrounding Igbo people. This is what we have been discussing at the Igbo Colloquium to find ways of assuring others that we are equal stakeholders in the Nigeria project and that we have something to offer. We have good intentions for Nigeria and we deserve to be given a chance too.

In less than a year, Nigeria will face another general election; there have been too many apprehensions towards 2015 and many projecting that the year will see to the end of Nigeria. What is your take about 2015 and all the anxieties following?

There is nothing new about such apprehensions. Towards the last elections, there were similar apprehensions, yet they came and passed and l strongly believe that this one will come and pass too. There is nothing to be afraid of. Probably what people should worry about and which maybe is the cause of such heightened apprehension is the incidence of insecurity in the land starting with the Boko Haram menace in the North to kidnapping in the south. But if you notice the issue of kidnappings is reducing now. As l always say, let us try and be positive in our outlook, so that we do not get bogged down by all these negative news in the land because it will come and go. However, the Politicians have not helped matters as you can see, they jump from one party to another heating up the polity with their comments.  All these are part of the development challenges. Look at other countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Syria etc. Many of them are passing through serious problems. But if we decide to stick together and face our challenges, we will overcome. Nigerians need to have a unity of purpose that is my take on all these.

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