Politics means a lot of different things to different people. Some see it as a means to acquired power, some others see it as a vehicle to remaining relevant in the scheme of things and in some other curious instances, some see it as a means of oppression and subjugation of the less-endowed ones. I Kalu, Prince-Iroha, a native of Abia Ohafia in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State, see politics as a vehicle for the enhancement of the welfare of the people (both the endowed and the less endowed) and for the promotion and actualization of social inclusion.
My decision to focus on this brand of politics is influenced primarily by two factors, namely: my educational background and my upbringing. Down the line, I will attempt to expantiate a little on this.
Over the years, especially under civilian rule, different politicians have been associated with unique styles of politics, some to the extent that long after they passed on to the great beyond, their political legacies have continued to serve as a memorial of them. Chief Obafemi Awolowo is remembered and loved by his people today because of his politics of welfare with definite attention to his people. Chief Michael Okpara, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Alhaji Aminu Kano all had their brands of politics that endeared them to their people.
I am under no illusion that I come close to these great men. In fact, I am not worthy to lace the shoes of any of them, let alone wear them. I am however, happy to have them as models of politics of ideology.
Today, our country is beset by a myriad of challenges. Today as well, they are a lot of leaders out there who are working day and night to see to it that such challenges are either solved or mitigated. A lot of politicians are truly doing all they can, to help the country, just as some others are not truly up and doing in trying to help.
Having watched and experienced where and how we have stumbled as a country and as a society, I have come to the conclusion that I can contribute my quota towards uplifting society and I can do so through my brand of politics which I call the politics of welfare and social inclusion.
WHY WELFARE AND SOCIAL INCLUSION?
As I said earlier, my choice of this brand of politics is influenced by my academic training and upbringing. To start with, if politics is about human beings, then it must be for their well-being. It must be about carrying them along.
Now, by my academic training, I am a Social Worker, having obtained Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Social Work from the University of Calabar. Social Workers all over the world are primarily known to be focused on the enhancement of the welfare of the people and the eradication of social disequilibrium. Therefore, as a Social Worker, it makes no sense to attempt any politics of personal aggrandizement which negates the oath and creed of my profession. That will be akin to a medical doctor who decides to go into politics and closed down his hospital.
If we agree that there are many challenges facing us a people today, it means that we agree we are facing many social problems. A social problem is a problem that affects a significant number of people, in ways considered undesirable, which it is felt something must be done about, through COLLECTIVE SOCIAL ACTION. Note that the capitalized part of this definition is to remind us of how best to solve our collective problems, which literally calls for social inclusion. That is why the second leg of my kind of politics is that of social inclusion.
For me, it is not enough to say yes we have a problem affecting all of us and then headhunt only a few individuals to attend to such a problem. I believe that as Abraham Lincoln defined democracy to be government of the people, for the people and by the people, then any politics played in a democracy must be truly by the people and this can only be by social inclusion, devoid of ethno-religious and gender discrimination. This creed I hold dear to me.
In my years in politics and private life, welfare and popular participation have always been my watchword. In the University of Calabar where I served as the President of the Federation of Igbo students, President of the National Association of Ohafia Students, and instrumental to the formation of the National Association of Abia State Students; in all these, that was what stood me out.
I initiated the Abia State Grassroot Sports Development Initiatives (ABGRASOD) and had it as a private sector funded Sports project of the Abia State Government. The concept hasn’t died though the project was starved due to some people’s brand of ill-fated politics.
In my private life outside of politics, the reason I established the HONPI Centre of Awareness and Mitigation; a.k.a HONPI Foundation (www.honpifoundation.com) was not just a memorial for my late wife, but to cater for the welfare and treatment of those with Naspharyngeal cancer challenge.
Having said this much, my greatest desire, and for which I am committed to, and would strive with everything within me by the Grace of God Almighty to actualize, is to see to it that in all my activities in politics and even outside of it, the welfare of my people will remain paramount, even as they are collectively drafted into the quest to develop a better society. This is my dream.