The Arochukwu Local Government Area Chairmanship race seems to be the contest of the witted that is parading the best candidates in the upcoming L.G.A’s election scheduled for December.
Ohafia TV news crew had been privileged to serve you with the missions of few of these candidates.
Our mission is always to provide a level playing ground, a medium by which the candidates can reach out to their electorates and convinced them that they will be the best men to serve them in all intent and purpose if given the chance to cause the change.
Today, Amos Kalu and Emeka Mannic encountered one of the candidates. At the end of the interaction, Hon Tony was able to pour out his mind to Arochukwu people, giving them the exact reasons why he is the man for the job.
Thank you sir for giving us this little space within your tight schedule. Please may we know your name, your career, and your person?
Ans.: Thank you Men of the press. You’re kind. Yes! My name is Honorable Tony Nkem Kalu. I am from Isuu, one of the 5 clans that make up Arochukwu. I have lived in New York, United States of America for a long time and still have some of my businesses there after relocating to Nigeria to serve my father-land. Academically, I got my degree at Winchester College NY where I majored in Business Administration and I am a Marketing and Management consultant of repute. By the grace of God, I am a friendly, Humble and down-to-earth individual who believes in healthy inter-human relationship as the basics for a healthy and civilized society. You may know more about me as we progress in this interview.
Is this your first political move or have you been in the game at any capacity?
Ans.: Well! Political development is a gradual process. Sometimes you can’t outrightly compute the years of your partisan politics considerable the period you actually became part of the process. But I think I have been around for a while. My most public appearance was when I gave an overwhelming support to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for his re-election. I think I believe in an all inclusive politics. Politics should not be a business of sentiments because you are investing people’s destiny in a man for a certain period of time. It should be a business where if you see a man with the right acumen to bring positive change in that investment, you throw your support behind him irrespective of party affiliate. That is what actually guides my political philosophy, and maybe that has made me popular amongst my critics. Besides that, I am a fresher, a new face with new ideas to cause positive change in the lives of my people because it is only when you acknowledge and identify the challenges your people face that you may be able to offer solution to their plight.
The normal school of thought is that money flows from America. But if you have decided to leave all the comfort there to come down to serve your people; it must worth the sacrifice. Please what prompted this action and decision?
Ans.: To be frank with you my brother. My wife expressed serious concern about my coming to play partisan politics, my family is indifferent about my decision, my colleagues thinks I am crazy to embark on this, even to the Local Level.
You see! There is this believe that politics is diabolic and is meant only for the dirty minded ones. That is how low and down the rabbit hole our politics have rolled. But evil triumph only where men of goodwill are scarce. I always ask “What is all these about?” The truth is that all these are meant to scare you away. When you accept to be scared away, the status quo remains. The people will continue to suffer while you continue to enjoy comfort of Civilization built by ideas of other people in the West. Built through their sacrifice and dedication; built through new and sustained ideas. Then I told myself this is not right. I prefer to be on the ground, to be with my people, feel what they feel so that I can know how to help them. You don’t fight a war from without, and in war you can’t make your home the battle ground. You have to take the fight to the field and strive to cause the desired change. You can only be part and parcel of what you are part and parcel of. It is a simple logic that defies fear and intimidation. I have been with them awhile and the desire to serve is at its peak in me.
George Burnes said:
Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.” ― George Burns
If you want to rebel, rebel from inside the system. That’s much more powerful than rebelling outside the system.” ― Marie Lu, Legend
One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” ― Plato
So I refuse to be scared away from my responsibility. The status quo must change.
L.G.A Level of governance is about giving democratic benefits to the grassroots. How do you intend to achieve this so that your subjects will rejoice at the mention of your name?
Ans.: This in itself is the leadership we are talking about. If at the end of your leadership the people did not rejoice, then you are a failure, you failed.
Government cannot solve all the problems, but you can be part of solving the problem when you come closer to the people. There’s no way the government will start sharing money to the people, But Roads, Social Amenities, Improvement of way of life etc are the ways you can make the people at the grassroots feel the impact of governance. I am not here to claim that I can solve all the problems, but when you succeed in solving one of the many problems, the person coming after you will not have to repeat the process. But what we have today is the worst kind of politics of “Ogbu Opi N’ezi imi”. If at the end of the day you take it all and give the people nothing, what legacy did you leave behind? Except that their brother or sister was once there. I will add (But did nothing)
Our people have encouraged this because we sell our votes. You sold your right to choose and so you should not complain. But when we vote the right person, watch him for four year and he couldn’t give account, the next time you terminate his contract, you sack him. You don’t let him buy you again.
Until we have government paid for by the people. There will not be government of the people. When the people give you overwhelming margin at the polls, there will be an avalange, a chain reaction if anybody tries to rig the election. But if the aspirant buys the vote at a high price, he is bound to fail because he will be busy recouping what he spent to buy the votes from you. At the end the people has nothing.
I am here to change that. To make sure my people gets what they bargained for. If only they will give me the opportunity to do so, they will rejoice at the hearing of my name even when I am long gone.
Now that you have purchased your ticket, where do we go from here? What is your message to your supporters?
My message to my people is to be wise and steadfast. By the time they understand what I stand for; they will be excited not only for my candidacy, but also the kind of leadership I will bring now and going forward.
I am “Being an inclusive Candidate” I am a candidate who doesn’t believe in “Double or nothing”, sometimes I call is diabolic politics not because of the Juju involved, but because the players always believe that once your brother is in an opposition camp, that brother automatically becomes your enemy. But any day he come back to your party, all his sins are cleansed and he will no longer be evil, you and him will rejoice again. I believe politics should be politics; personal life should be personal life as well as business life on its own.
Politicians should at the end of the day come together, sit down and have a drink together. But it is only in Africa here that you can’t sit in the same table with an opponent because people will say it is wrong and your party may sanction you for anti party activities, even if you knew the person before you joined the party. Your entire DNA will be switched to being an enemy. What kind of politics is that? It broods a situation where if a party loses, they will be hanged out there to dry for the next 4years, left out in the cold with their best men not adding anything to development.
I will give you an example: If I were in an opposition party and Okezie Ikepazu has gone as far as Supreme Court and was declared the winner “Legally” by a competent court, that is where the situation should have ended. That means you may not like him, you may not have agreed that he won. But the truth is that he has been declared as the Executive Governor. Then the least you could do is to throw your support behind him because if we don’t we all lose. Whether I am in his party or not, I will support him to find a solution to the plight of our people. But here, we carry the grudge on, the anger for losing an election. For God’s sake, if you cannot afford to lose an election, don’t run for an office. You have to be able to stomach it when you lose and move on. Whether you lost at the polls or at the judiciary, a win is a win and, a lose is a lose. Sometimes I wonder if our politicians are there to serve the people or simply to serve themselves because if you say you want to serve and the people said “NO” not this time, you shouldn’t be angry. You should go and do something with your life. Maybe next time if the voters hire you, then you can serve. But if you go into it as a business, that is when if you lose, you feel as if the world has come crashing down on you, your ship has capsized. Because all that income you expected will not come your way again.
The entire penny I am spending on my campaign, I am spending it because I can afford it. I am spending it as a sacrifice to my people. If I succeed fine, but if I fail, I will only regret for not having the opportunity to serve my people, but it will not be like “oh my God, all these money I lost, what will I do?” I always told people that if I had all the money to give to my people everything they wanted, if I have all the money to build roads for my people, I wouldn’t have any business in politics.
For instance, there are certain things I do in the community. There are people I pay their fees on scholarship and most of them are here today to support me but I don’t talk about it. It is up to them to tell people what I am doing. I don’t need to be loud about it; I don’t need to take glory from man, only God can give reward to our deeds.
You appear optimistic that you will make it to the tops? What is your confidence and how do you intend to scale through the Party Primaries which always seem to be tougher than the main election?
Ans.: Obviously the process of nomination will play itself out, I do believe in the process. If not I wouldn’t have come down and I wouldn’t have picked the ticket.
I believe based on zoning equity, Isuu, which is my clan has never had the opportunity of being in any elected office ever! Ever! So we are in a better position to be compensated and blessed. These are the case I will be making to the delegates who will be the ones to choose me as their candidate.
Another thing is that if you come to people who already have something, speaking of the 5 clans. For instance Abam have State Assembly representation in the person of Lukeman Okara, and then you also have Hon. Uko Nkole who is in the federal house. When you come down to Ihechiowa, the past TCC Oni Igbokwe is from there, the current TCC Amah Abraham is also from Ihechiowa. Ututu has a provost in the person of Ntom. Aro has a Senator in the person of MAO Ohuabunwa. But Isuu is the only clan with nothing. So it will be an honour to me as a person and to Isuu as a people if PDP will give them this opportunity. At that point PDP will be seen in different light. I will make this case to remind the people that they need to support me and I will bring victory to the PDP.
Also I am a candidate that has no carried over enmity or political fight between anybody at any time. I am still fresh and the youths love me and I love the youths. They are the engine room of any electioneering process. But unfortunately when the time comes for them to enjoy what comes out of the election, they will be left outside. That’s not fair and such trend need to change.
In order words you plan to carry the youths along?
My plan is not only that the youths will have a sit at the table if I do win. They will be part and parcel of the administration. The new zeal, that fresh blood and young energy; that question of how do we make our place different. If it is going to be politics as usual, I am telling you I will drop everything today and walk away. I will not allow myself to be in the office and gone through the process and there is no change.
Let me give you an instance. There’s this portion of the road if you are going to Aro from Ututu, around Ugwu Akuma, the road has been in bad state for years. Politicians after politicians has come and gone but nobody wants to do anything about it, not even a small portion. The easiest thing a politician can tell you is that it is a Federal Road. Tell me is Buhari plying the road? it is none of his business. He might never even have any reason to be there. But we are the local people living there, we should call it our own, our home and do something to bring little change. Even a little portion will suffice though we may not have the wherewithal to solve all the problems.
Every year you see the youths coming out to fight to win an election for someone who may never say how are you, how is it with you? After the elections, their place will be with the gateman until the next election. This is not fair, it is wicked; I intent to change all that. Our youths don’t need to be thrown up and down like a “Yoyo” all the time. They only come out to fight, bleed or sometime die for a cause that does not benefit them. So if I win the primaries, I will work with all the parties to bring victory. I will tell them why they need a man like me. A man that has not just seen beyond the Arochukwu or Abia State or Nigeria or West Africa or Africa, but a man that has gone round the world and seen how governments works and has determination to replicate those methods here to make Arochukwu work…
Honorable please let me cut in a little on a point you just made? You said you wish to work extensively with the youths. Don’t you think that will upset the “power that BE”, considering the political atmosphere in Nigeria, won’t relegating the old school put you at a political disadvantage?
Well the truth is that you cannot change the Status Quo overnight; all I am saying is that let the youths have a sit at the table too instead of leaving them outside to wait for you to wave bye-bye and welcome sir but when it comes to election you need them. Let them have a sit inside; let them be part of the decisions that affects their lives. Of course we need the elders, we need those that have done it for so long, we will always respect them, we will always rely on them to guide us and we will always enjoy their council.
A representative of the people shouldn’t be the one running around on sirens and saying bye-bye to people. He should be the one sitting down where people are playing draft to hear their life worries. A local government chairman should be the one that goes to the funeral and talk to the people. He should be the one that goes to the hospital and make sure that not only there is adequate treatment but make sure there are also adequate materials that are necessary. A local government chairman shouldn’t be the one who only sit behind a desk, but be the man that will go to the schools, even sometimes unannounced and look at their chairs, tables and learning conditions, talk to teacher and not only there to look for whom to sack but understand that the system has been so weakened and in a poor state and so must do something to encourage the teachers. He cannot be a disciplinarian this time, but as a friend and motivator. Let us know that the change cannot happen overnight or in one term, but let us start from somewhere. “Mgbe onye tetere wu ututu ya”.
You must have witnessed the current Nigeria’s economic recession. What palliative measures will you apply to cushion its effect on Arochukwu people?
Ehhm! There is no question that the National Economy is in dire situation, maybe not as much on the central economy, but on the mainstream, people are feeling the pain more than you can imagine. I was around five months ago, I know things were a little bit tough and people were a little bit impatient with the new administration because the President had not put things in motion. People were disappointed with all their hopes. But at that point, it was just an ordinary hardship. But this time what I am seeing is beyond hardship. People are no longer thinking about how to pay their bills, rents etc. But people are now worried about how they will eat their next meal and after than what happen to the next meal. Cost of food has gone almost 4times the normal price. Salaries are not raised and the cost of food is almost double the salary of an average civil servant.
My solution to this is different from the approach that may be expected from different levels. For instance, at the federal government level, the government can give bailout funds, or subsidize the price of food. But since the Local government don’t have the power to subsidize food. Since the local government chairman will get his allocation from the Federation, there are various things the Chairman can do. When you have your full allocation, there are certain things you can do to help alleviate the suffering of the people. You can infuse more money into the system.
For instance, the Local government Chairman may decide to take up the tariff on electricity off the people until things normalizes. He can go into investments in the Agricultural sector like setting up Cassava mills to create jobs and make food more readily available to the people. There are so many other things which I may not readily remember in the course of this interview. But I am sure more of them will be reflected on my manifesto. But first of all we have to understand and acknowledge that there is a problem instead of shifting the problem to somebody else by saying that it is not my problem. It belongs to the President or the Governor. Our people really need help. You may not start by building projects but we can do a lot to stabilize the life of the people.
Before we go sir, any additional words to the entire Arochukwu people whose fate may be in your hands from December, God-willing?
In all honesty, I am not promising you that I know all the right answers. But one thing I can guarantee you here is, if I am lucky and if I am fortunate to be elected. I know everybody always say my door is open to anyone who want to come in, but when the times comes they will begin to choose who comes in and who stays outside and every plea will fall on a deaf ear. But all I am saying to our people is that we will solve these problems together. You will know the amount I receive every month as allocation, the exact amount and what we used if for. I will guarantee the kind of transparency that never existed before and we will have a town hall meeting at the secretariat every last Friday of the month.
Come! You are entitled to ask me the question “What did we achieve between the Friday of the previous month to the present one”. You are entitled to ask me any question whatsoever. And you are entitled to get the answers. Do not let me walk away or go to the next topic without addressing any pressing questions. That is a guarantee. It is always difficult to hold elected leaders accountable. But if we are all in it together and we are doing it incrementally, little by little. Every month we come together to discuss what we have achieved and why we were not able to achieve the others, and this is how we plan to achieve it.
On one hand there will be the administration and on the other hand every community will have their representative that will have the responsibility to ensure that their people are well represented. There are people who are old and aged and who may not be able to know what is going on. But there are young people who can represent them and ask the questions that will affect their people at home. People, who can read and write, people who cares about their interest.
If we don’t wait until four years before we give account. If we give account as we move along, our people will be better for it because you are always conscious of what you do when you know you need to answer a question at the townhall meeting every other Last Friday of the month.
If we begin to see ourselves as people employed by the electorates, I mean elected official, that we are hired by the masses who can choose to re-employ or sack us. The moment you begin to work with such great humility, I believe things will be for the better. But to account to the people who have sent us there will be my number one priority any time any day.