Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Chairman, Agura hotel, Eze Maxwel Kanu does not skirt around issues. In this interview, he declared that President Muhammadu Buhari is the best option for Nigeria in 2019. He particularly hailed former governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Kalu for openly campaigning for the president’s re-election.
What do you make of the declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari to contest for another term in 2019?
As a royal father we don’t play politics. But when we see truth we speak out. We are always upright. His declaration for a second term is his constitutional entitlement. He has done much that we should support him for his second tenure. It is only little thing that he needs to do for Igbo. And I know he will complete it when he comes back. When he comes back he will complete the good works he has started. He cannot finish everything in one term. It is of right that he should contest. And he should be given the chance. So I am in support of that declaration.
You praised the president for having achieved so much but some are kicking against his second term bid on the ground of the killings going in the country since he took over. Would you say the activities of herdsmen are not enough to stop the president’s re-election?
The last administration plunged this country into hunger. The hardship it plunged the country into brought about so many social challenges. One of them is all these killings. They cannot be addressed in one day; President Buhari is doing his best to bring the situation under control. He is leading the nation in the right direction. He is fighting corruption; he is waging war on insurgency. He does not rest. Soldiers and police are losing their lives to protect us. The president is not folding his hands. I believe he is doing what he is elected to do. But the opposition will not see those things.
Giving your position as a Royal Majesty, what will you say the president has done for the South-east to deserve the support of the zone?
In the South-east, the road leading to Enugu/ Port Harcourt which he has embarked upon gives me the impression that he has done well. The Enugu/Onitsha road is in progress. If the construction stops we will go back to square one. It was not done by the last administration. I can say that he has done much. More so, he will bring the government nearer to us if he is re-elected.
You were recently quoted as urging the Igbo to vote for Buhari in 2019 because he will help facilitate the actualisation of South- East producing the president in 2023, how realistic is that?
Look, if you deny President Buhari a second term, who will take it? That is the question South- East should be asking. Obasanjo from the South-west has completed his tenure. But if we allow Buhari complete his tenure it would be justified that the Igbo will have to take the shot. But if we are divided, we will lose it and go back to square one. That is what people don’t understand.
We should not only vote for him but support his government and pray for him to successfully complete his second tenure. When he completes it, they will feel guilty if the Igbo are not given the opportunity. Anybody who wants to take Igbo’s shot should do what Orji Kalu is doing today. He has been spending huge amount of money going round and campaigning for Mr President. But people with short sight will not know or see it now until when it is late that is when they will start complaining that it is their turn. That is why I say let them come up and support the man to complete his second term.
I have read and heard some people, out of ignorance, disparaging Orji Kalu for openly supporting the president’s re-election bid, I believe such criticism is borne out of either envy or lacking understanding of politics. I have told Kalu that he should not be bothered about those unfounded criticisms. Anybody can criticise him, he is a leader and leaders are often misunderstood. He is supporting a noble cause which both Nigerians and South –East people will reap the benefits.
If people do not criticise him it means he has not done well. If you watch CNN and see the attack they are giving to their president it goes to show that leaders are there to be criticised even when they are taking right actions. If you give our president the attacks Americans are giving to Trump he will develop heart attack. But his is minor. It wouldn’t stop him from campaigning for the president’s re-election. God is with Kalu. Tell people who are working to pull him down that they will not succeed.
You have been in battle with NPA over your hotel, Agura, what is happening?
I have done what I am supposed to do in Abuja. I came to Abuja in 1979 and I did not come to make money. I was in Lagos then, when I was contacted to come to Abuja. The people who took me to then President, Shehu Shagari were K. O. Mbadiwe, M. L. O Akinloye, and
Jerome Udojie. They said to him if you want Abuja to open use this young man. Then I had already started building a pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Arondizuogu. I told them that to use me what I will do is to put up a hotel. Now we also agreed that I will come to Abuja and take the first shot. He asked me what I needed and I told him that I needed was security with police protection, import license for 20 million stock fish. Then he told Umaru Dikko to get my request done.
Getting to my hotel in the night, the commissioner of police brought my form for my details. I was given license. I came and put up Agura Hotel. From then I bought two tankers for water, two trucks for carrying workers from Aba and also dug a borehole. Within four months, the hotel was built. I have not built a single house after Agura Hotel since the hotel was opened. Because I have achieved what I came to do, I have been given the ticket of prime developer of Abuja. A road has been named in my honour. They have given me several honours deserving of me. The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), who gave me the N52 million loans during the evaluation later made a U-turn and say that the loan should be regarded as shares. I have given them N64m. I went to court and challenged their claims. I am not criticising anybody because to criticize the Nigeria Port Authority is to criticise myself. And somebody cannot criticise himself.