Chief Orji Uzor Kalu
Uche Ikechukwu writes on the crisis trailing the speculated return bid of former Abia State Governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu to the Peoples Democratic Party
During the Abia Town Hall Meeting held in Abuja last month, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, described the attacks on the person of Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State as misguided because the decision to stop his predecessor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu from returning to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was a stand of all true lovers of the state and not necessarily that of the governor as the leader of the party.
Image makers of the former governor had in their various arguments, tried but in vain to distort the arguments. In fact, the obsession of virtually all the image makers of the former governor’s attempts to throw darts at Orji and the Abia first-eleven is indicative of the fact that they are on a hot seat. Of course, they tried to justify their continued stay on the former governor’s propaganda machine since their boss has made history as the first person in Nigeria to receive a red card in his two unsuccessful attempts to re-join the political party he had hitherto, rained abuses on. Since then, hell was let loose.
Unfortunately, the desperation of Kalu’s image managers to burnish his irredeemable political profile elicited a flashback of baggage. His sordid antecedents and penchant duplicity flared-up the deep-seated suspicion of the Abia elite and flaks of mass anger. The bottom line is that Kalu’s pet project; ‘Njiko Igbo’ is a Janus-faced trump card just as the charade of ill-fated plan to rejoin the PDP depicts a sophistication of roller-coaster subterfuge.
As appealing as the Igbo Presidency is to Ndigbo, Kalu, without fear of equivocation, lacks the moral gunfire and patriotic finesse to lead the struggle. Already, the ‘Njiko Igbo’ does not have any intellectual underpinning. It is like a mob activism with no clear-cut strategies and modus operandi. Igbo Presidency project is not all about mealy-mouthed adventurism and market-place macabre dance.
It entails engendering consensus building and striking healthy alliances by array of broad-minded soldiers of conscience who must command home-grown solidarity. Kalu, like loose cannon that is beyond his turf, cannot fit into this onerous task. But his terminal hysteria of megalomania informs him otherwise.
The pertinent question is: why is it that Kalu cannot forge a consensus with fellow Abians after governing the State for 8 years? Yes, everybody will not like him as he incurred defined and unintended enemies while he held sway. But why is he dreaded? Were they indeed afraid of him as alleged by small minds or was it a case of wielding a long spoon to dine with the devil? The truth is that Kalu is consistently inconsistent. He has no regards for principle.
People have not forgotten how after his emotion-evoking speech at the 2000 Igbo day in Enugu, he failed to stand up to be counted when it mattered most. By the speech, Kalu erroneously cut out an image of an emerging Igbo leader with a passion to champion a paradigm shift. His popularity towered to the skies as he effectively utilized every available fora to canvass for a Nigeria president of Igbo extraction. However, it gradually degenerated into a huge comic relief when the ovations that were pouring in got to Kalu’s head.
His true nature surfaced. In fact, it became clearer that leadership emergence is not by mere sloganeering and delivery of fine speeches written by well-motivated writers. The flip flop came to the fore when the plundering power of federal might threatened Kalu’s second term ambition. The agitation by vintage Kalu died down immediately.
Recently and as a matter of fact, Kalu ‘the fighter’ recoiled into his shell and refrained from attacking Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice-President for reconciling with Obasanjo when the later threatened to expose what Kalu did behind-the-scene to negotiate his second term ticket.
So, should we take Kalu who is on a ‘familiar terrain’ seriously? He barks and retreats when the battle becomes inevitable. More often than not, Kalu talks before he thinks.
Recall that in 2001, during the public presentation of the book entitled, ‘Orji Kalu: Leadership Lessons From A Master Strategist’, then Senate President and now Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, admonished Kalu at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, venue of the book launch. Anyim’s bombshell was that Kalu did not know when to speak and when to keep quiet. It then dawned on everybody that Anyim had hit the bull’s eye.
In the build-up to the 2010 gubernatorial election, Kalu boosted that PPA would capture the State but unfortunately, the PPA candidate then- Hon Uche Ekwunife, failed woefully. She came last of all the candidates fielded by all the seven political parties that took part in the election. So one begins to ask where Kalu’s euphoria of indispensability was anchored. Where is his electoral value?
Nonetheless, a mob ovation and beer-parlour popularity accentuated through tokenism of emergency activism and pittances of filthy lucre can hardly survive the test of burgeoning critical consciousness of sane-minded Nigerians who view Kalu’s latest grandstanding as a pollution of the political space. Ultimately, applause does not necessarily confer endorsement.
Back to the visit to Wadata Plaza by Abia PDP stakeholders, it is important to say that it was neither a farce nor out of phobia; it showed a most mature bold step to preserve the relative peace enjoyed in Abia. Nobody is afraid of Kalu. After all, PDP won the 6 out of the 8 House of Representatives seats; 2 out of 3 Senate seats; and over 50% of State Assembly seats while Kalu was still the governor.
Orji won the governorship seat largely out of the goodwill he built while he served under Kalu. The battle for the soul of Abia PDP is not self-serving. It is rather a battle against a resurgence of stock of Kalu’s weak character, pull-him-down syndrome and rising on littered destiny of others. The inalienable right of association is not a licence to enthrone excesses of the Thomas Hobbes State of nature. An obvious fact is that Kalu is wallowing in political oblivion and he desperately wants to be noticed.
•Ikechukwu is a chieftain of Abia State chapter of PDP