By Ebere Wabara
Shortly before the Abia North senatorial rerun on March 5, 2016, the Bourdex Campaign Organisation, the political machinery of Chief (Dr.) David Onuoha-Bourdex of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), who contested alongside Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu of the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) and Mr. Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), among other fringe candidates, in a commercial on the Africa Independent Television (AIT), used intemperate and scurrilous language on the eminent personage of Dr. Orji Kalu.
Clearly, instead of addressing electioneering issues pertaining to the rerun poll, this hate campaign organisation made Kalu the butt of its vicious canvass for votes throughout the almost 15-minute television commercial. Of course, photo-shop pictorials were employed in justificatory doses to calumniate the front-running visage of Dr. Kalu.
After viewing the TVC, I just dismissed the vitriolics as part of a drowning politician’s misguided approach to political relevance! What could have warranted such an irresponsible and childish commercial line moments before the rerun election? Is it possible that the circus broadcast was intent on discounting the potential overwhelming votes of Kalu? The foul script insinuated that Kalu was desperate to win at all costs!
The ludicrous commercial went on and on that someone called me and asked if I was viewing the balderdash by Bourdex & Co. I told him I was on the station and that I had never seen that kind of irresponsible and vacuous public communication. I did not bring it to the notice of either Kalu or members of his universal media team because I felt there was no need responding to a piece of bovine insanity lest you dignify the charlatanistic authors and their pig-headed sponsors. My only regret was that my preferred governor of Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, was part of the charade from a safe distance!
Then just a fortnight ago, in another full-page advertorial, on Saturday, March 26, 2016, specifically, published in THISDAY, Page 16, the Bourdex Campaign Organisation made yet other scathing remarks about Kalu as if he was behind the disastrous outing of Onuoha-Bourdex in the recent rerun in a panaromic tirade entitled “Why we reject the farce called Abia North Senatorial Rerun”.
Let us dissect some aspects of the vicious advertorial: “We have it in (sic) good authority and in black and white that both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA), (sic) engaged in bare-faced mutilation of results and manipulation of votes. For instance in Umumenyi ward, where PPA scored 748, at the collation centre in Bende Local Government Council the figure was inflated to 5,497 votes. In Arochukwu at Ohafor 1 ward, PDP got 149 votes but at the LGA collation centre, it was changed to 1,300.”
People should not make unfounded and reckless statements to justify their abysmal performance at an election. How can anyone prove that the PPA “engaged in bare-faced mutilation of results and manipulation of votes?” It is not possible that the PPA, which is Kalu’s platform, could have been involved in such electoral malpractices after Kalu won at the Court of Appeal on those grounds culminating in the directive for the rerun in the first place. I challenge anyone on the popularity, acceptability and superlative electoral value of Dr. Kalu cutting across even political divides, ethnic groups, non-denominational identity and national/global fame beyond Abia State, let alone a senatorial district. Asininities encapsulated in an advertorial should be targeted at the widely acclaimed rouguish PDP—not the PPA at all. Kalu is the symbol of the PPA; so any imbecilic reference to the party affects him majorly by extrapolation. The advertisers and other mischief-makers know this fully. At the risk of immodesty, Kalu will win this rerun election ultimately when the exercise is conducted in a free and fair environment by God-fearing officials from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Yet another extract: “It is mind boggling that the collation officer in Bende LGA could stoop so low to involve himself in the mutilation and allocation of votes. The situation was so bad that even the man who was awarded victory in the election advised INEC to reconsider the use of University (sic) lecturers in the conduct of elections, saying that most of them set a financial target of how much to rake in from an election as well as what brand of cars and choice property they would buy.”
What kind of cock-and-bull yarn is this? Why is it that it is only in Bende that votes were allocated? So, votes could not be allocated in other wards and local governments? If a campaign organisation does not have anything to communicate, it should not come to the public arena to make bizarre presentations. Which man was awarded victory: in Bende or Abia North? Come clean and be bold. Where and when did the man (whoever he is) “awarded victory in the election” give the information about dons? This kind of kindergartener’s baseless interjection smacks of bohemianism that borders on insanity.
Yet another extract from the shallow advertorial under focus: “But on the date of the election, INEC joined in disseminating the falsehood that the Supreme Court has pronounced that the card readers should no longer be used in collating results. Thus, some unscrupulous INEC staff connived with PDP and PPA to engage in wanton mutilation of results and allocation of votes.” It is only a buffoon that can make this kind of unsubstantiated declaration and expect the public to believe the crap. So, the INEC staff connived with only the two leading parties in the poll? An aside: ‘mutilation’ is reprehensible in all circumstances and on all occasions and cannot, therefore, be “wanton” or not! There is no decent rape!
As we round off this intervention, let us take the last excerpt from the empty advertorial signed by Amara Umunna, Special Assistant, Media & Public Communications, Chief (Dr.) David Onuoha-Bourdex Senatorial Campaign Organisation: “We renounce the desperation that was brought to bear on the so-called Abia North Senatorial re-run election by the candidates of PDP and PPA assisted by greedy INEC officials. The PDP state government released its machinery to influence the election in a rabid quest to sustain its erroneous narrative that it won the governorship election. On its part, the PPA candidate, dismayed by life out of political power, brought all known tactics of electoral banditry that characterized the 2003 and 2007 elections, to inflate votes such that as much as 12,000 votes emanated from Bende local (sic) government (sic) area (sic) alone.”
In any election, there is nothing like desperation. It is either you are committed to it in whatever form you consider fit for you or you remain on the sidelines. The passion with which you drive your quest may be mistaken by political neophytes as “desperation”, which is sheer abuse of an innocent word. If you were not going to be desperate—whatever that means—then stay at your home. The aforementioned AIT commercial was not desperation, but subtle appeal to the electorate? Public communication should not be trivialized for lack of what to say that makes sense and is logical in all contexts. The fuss about “desperation” reeks of a loser’s mantra.
Instead of the pub spin about manipulations in 2003 and 2007 elections with Dr. Kalu being the alleged master-strategist, can we have authentic and certified facts and figures pertaining to those polls? Drunken imaginations and aspersions cannot win councillorship elections let alone senatorial rerun! If it was so mechanistic and simple for Kalu in 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections, he should equally have replicated it in the currency of 2015 and 2016 poll and rerun, respectively. What of 2011 senatorial election where he was blatantly robbed of victory just as the latest brazenness in electoral fraud that has fleetingly suspended his mandate?
Even as Dr. Kalu is “dismayed by life out of political power”, uncharitably, he cannot be compared to—not “with” in this differential instance—any of the small-fry contestants in the rerun in terms of everything imaginable. There is no basis if not for politics for Kalu to be in the same race with all the other rerun candidates put together. He towers above all of them individually and collectively. They all know this fact. It is just that in a democracy the best in terms of candidature may not necessarily win because of extraneous factors that usually play out uncontrollably. Throwing money at voters as Kalu’s accuser did does not guarantee victory at rerun polls or any election indeed!
Kalu is not dismayed by political power or lack of it because he remains more relevant than most people in government or political power for copious reasons we cannot explicate here because of time and space. There is hardly any adult in the country and in the diaspora who does not know him, his antecedents, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and potentialities. He is a political asset anytime more than most people who are not dismayed for being in political power.
All the candidates in the rerun pooled cannot make the kind of economic and political impact that Kalu has made and is still making at home and abroad. Kalu’s entrepreneurial ambassadorship is in the realms of those of Alhaji Aliko Dangote and egbon Michael Adenuga Jr. Obviously, in contradistinction, not an economic and political upstart like Bourdex who is still in the embryonic stage of his politico-economic career.
Whether Kalu gets his senatorial mandate revalidated or not in the weeks ahead, all the puppets poking their leprous fingers at him can never in their life attain the supranational level that he has risen to and keeps making international waves in various spheres of existential humanism. It is pertinent for his tribe of hypercritics to note that whatever is the outcome of the latest senatorial inquisition he has embarked upon, it will not diminish his influence or vitiate his flourishing profile. The only icing on the cake is that such an actualization will add more verve to his superlative and transnational credential bursting at the seams already!
The final word Kalu’s detractors and political foes will not like is that no matter what happens, Kalu remains a paragon of quintessence and an advocate of diligence and forthrightness in all departments of life. His affluence has never affected his humility. He deserves laudatory avowals—not acerbic TV commercials and fatuous advertorials by men still in their `political diapers egged on by amnesic ingrates that Kalu’s beneficence brought to devious stardom!
––Wabara is the media adviser to former Governor Orji Kalu (email@example.com)