Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Former Minister for Finance, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, has expressed disappointment over the outcome of the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections, saying that the exercise was fraught with manipulations and violence.
The elder statesman who spoke while featuring on Ikengaonline monthly town-hall meeting said that even those who were declared winners of the polls would not be very proud of the process that produced them.
“Even those declared winners are not proud of what INEC did,” he regretted.
He expressed surprise that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, who, he said commanded tremendous support and followership across different geopolitical zones did not win the poll.
The two-time Minister also decried the voter apathy that characterised the governorship and house of assembly elections, blaming it on the brazen manipulation that marred the presidential poll.
He said the morale of many voters was dampened by the failure of INEC to honour its own promises that results would be transmitted from the polling units using the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS machines.
Idika said that the conduct of the elections as also attested to by many observers, fell short of expectations of a country projected to make the top ten largest economy by 2050.
He, therefore, called on the judiciary as the last hope of common man to save Nigeria’s democracy and restore hope and confidence of the people in the electoral process by handling the election petitions dispassionately.
According to him, it is up to the judiciary to determine if we need a fresh election or supplementary elections in some places.
He, however, appealed for calm as the judiciary carefully and thoroughly looks at the petitions.
On the Naira re-design policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, shortly before the polls, Kalu dismissed it as useless and ill-advised.
He regretted that the policy instead of achieving any good objective, brought woes and hardship on the citizens.
The Wisconsin University-trained Economist argued that contrary to claims by the CBN, the policy was unable to prevent vote buying during the elections.
The elder statesman who noted that “currency change is not even a monetary policy,” called for purposeful planning to avoid plunging the country into economic confusion.
Kalu who strongly condemned the burning of Igbo dominated markets in Lagos in the aftermath of the general elections described the ugly development as disturbing, and a danger signal.
He said that Nigerians must agree to peacefully co-exist or split peacefully instead of stoking the embers of ethnic tension and conflict.
“We need to redefine our national ethos. We are Nigerians and should be proud of our diversities and not promote ethnic tensions and conflicts.
“We should outgrow the primordial sentiments that characterised the general elections. Such barbaric acts should be obsolete in our system.”
The elder statesman said the Igbo had no apologies for their political choice, and should not be made targets of political persecution.
He called on the relevant agencies to quickly fish out the masterminds of the barbaric attacks and apply adequate sanctions.
Kalu, however, advised Ndigbo to be more subtle considering their peculiar circumstances in Nigeria.
He insisted that Nigeria must be made to work otherwise, we are all doomed.
“If we don’t get it right at this juncture we are in a total mess. By 2050, Nigeria should be the number three in population, number 10 in economy.”