Abaribe: Why I Fell out with Kalu

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, has recounted his experience as the Deputy Governor to Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, when the latter was the governor of Abia State in 1999, saying he fell out with Kalu for refusing to be one of his (Kalu) mother’s ‘Egusi’ peelers.

He also narrated how he survived three impeachment attempts as deputy governor of the state from 1999 to 2003.

These revelations are excerpts from 10 chapter of Abaribe’s 334 page autobiography titled: ‘Made in Aba’, which will be unveiled today in Abuja.

The ranking senator in the book explained that his trouble as deputy to Governor Kalu started when he refused to join the league of ‘Egusi’ peelers who thronged his mother’s abode for whatever reason.

He stated on Page 155 of the book: “I was just not toadying to Orji Uzor Kalu enough that was my greatest undoing. I was not in the league of ‘Egusi’ peelers that thronged his mother’s house for whatever reason. His minions had not succeeded in binding me to some ethereal commitment on any false loyalty scale.”

Explaining how he survived three impeachment attempts by the state House of Assembly, Abaribe, in the book, said: “I lasted exactly three years and nine months in office before I threw in the towel. The bumpy ride ended on March 7, 2003 , when I finally resigned and switched parties.

“The one tenure was characterised by three attempts at impeachment. The one thread that runs through them all was that the government can make no error. Once the idea stuck in the head of the chief executive, the person around him would leave no stone unturned to actualise the desired end. It ties in with the inability to take responsibility for action, and drives the unwary to that inevitable hubristic manifestation described by Owen. The leader is always right complex in ‘Animal Farm’.

“The first attempt at impeaching me died on the floor of the House of Assembly, and roundly defeated for the baseless shenanigan that it was. The second attempt, I survived by a hair breadth-by just one vote differential. The third one, I did not bother to respond to it.”

He further explained on pages 153 and 154 of his memoir that during his crisis with Kalu, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and late former Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, intervened at different times but nothing came out of it.

According to him, he was dehumanised by Kalu on one occasion which gained him friendship of an astute businessman and philanthropist, Chief Emeka Offor.

“The Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, also intervened. He called me out to apologise to Orji Uzor Kalu in public, digressing from the project of road commissioning he had come for.

“I had for the sake of peace, humbly stepped forward. The governor did not reciprocate the gesture. But everyone witnessed the coldness he exhibited towards me on that occasion, and was able to judge whether the trouble between us was as a result of Abaribe’s convoluted pride, or whether it was a reflection of something more sinister that ‘hubris syndrome’!

“My dehumanisation by Kalu on that occasion gained me the friendship of Chief Emeka Offor, who was part of the crowd at the said commissioning. Chief Offor had approached me quietly with a complimentary card, expressing his astonishment at the childishness of a governor, who would openly shun reconciliatory gesture.”

Abaribe added that while Kalu’s eight-year tenure as a state governor lasted, two other deputy governors after him were impeached and removed from office.