For Benjamin Kalu, It’s More Gumption, More Humanity

Udora Orizu writes that in a show of love and humanity, the Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu on May 5, 2024 celebrated his 53rd birthday with pensioners, widows, orphans and the underserved people in the society

“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being Humane.” – Mahatma Gandhi

For Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, it has always been a life of gumption, philanthropy, empathy, determination, courage, and as well as having a lot of confidence.

Being humane, he drew a distinction between merely existing as a human and embodying the qualities of compassion, empathy, and kindness that define humanity at its best.

From young age, he has always been a staunch believer of Bernard Meltzer saying, “there is no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up.”

It all began in his early 20’s, in far away Cross Rivers State, when the Abia born leader won his way into the heart of people, becoming a students representative. As years went by, his determination and full measure of courage catapulted him to being the youngest local government Chairman of Bende, Abia State, Senior Special Adviser to the then governor and subsequently moving to the House of Representatives in 2019.

Still buoyed by confidence and wisdom when others could easily chicken out because of fear of the unknown, he dared to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, an ambition which aside his enviable legislative accomplishments, watered the ground for him to become the Deputy Speaker of the Green Chamber of the National Assembly.

Rt. Hon. Kalu’s commitment to society extends beyond politics, many years ago, long before he ventured into politics, he founded the Benjamin Kalu Foundation (BKF), focusing on empowering youth, women, and people with disabilities. 

These empowerment programmes hold every 29th of December. In retrospect, to mark Nigeria’s Independence Day celebrations in 2019, the Benjamin Kalu Foundation awarded bursaries to over 400 Bende undergraduates.

Kalu, had then stated that the reason for the initiative was to fill a gap in the education sector and was borne out of his passion for the educational emancipation of Bende people. He further noted that the beneficiaries were chosen by his foundation across all communities in Bende, regardless of political affiliations.

Benjamin Kalu Foundation also kicked off the End Blindness Project, an outreach targeting thousands of Bende indigenes for eye examinations, treatment, surgery and glasses prescription.

BKF in October 2023, collaborated with Vision Saver Eye Care Limited and organized a three-day medical outreach in Bende. The exercise witnessed a massive turnout of constituents who needed medical attention for their eyes with over 1200 people receiving medications, medical eye glasses, and cataract surgeries.

Speaking, when he received progress report from the medical team, the Deputy Speaker emphasized that the project is not just for Bende Federal Constituency but for the entire nation as well. According to him, the outreach will be extended to other parts of the country. 

This humanitarian and daring spirit as well as wisdom recently played out, when Kalu in commemoration of his 53rd birthday, his first birthday celebration as Deputy Speaker of the 10th House of Representatives, jettisoned the classical funfair that precipitated the birthday of people of his calibre and chose to rather put smiles on the faces of the downtrodden instead of entertaining guests made of men of timbre and calibre.

Days to the D-day, Kalu through his media aides, issued a statement urging his colleagues, friends and political allies to refrain from flamboyant displays of love, and rather visit orphanages or engage in other activities focused on empathy, introspection, and humanitarian causes to celebrate him.

The statement titled, ”My Birthday: A Humble Appeal for Quiet Celebrations “, read in part, “By the grace of God, I will be marking my birthday on Sunday, May 5, 2024. In light of the current mood of the country, I humbly appeal to my dear friends, esteemed colleagues and well wishers to take a quiet approach in commemorating this day. This entails refraining from advertorials, effusive greetings, and flamboyant displays, except for visits to orphanages and other activities focused on empathy, introspection, and humanitarian causes.

“While I appreciate the understanding and compliance of my friends and political allies with this kind request, I regret any inconvenience it may cause you. I urge all efforts, thoughts, and actions to be directed towards supporting the federal government including the parliament to sustain the solutions already in place to tackle the challenges facing us as a nation. I am deeply grateful to God Almighty for another year in perfect health, and I extend my sincere appreciation to everyone for your prayers.”

Showing beyond doubt that humanity, in general, is perceived as a charity and as the old saying goes, “it begins at home”, the Deputy Speaker thereafter, travelled to Abia State on a 5-day visit. 

Utabiri Bende as he is fondly called was welcomed by his constituents with love, as he inspected road projects he facilitated.

As stated by an American author and philosopher, Robert M. Pirsig, “A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit about stewing about things. He is at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes”, the Deputy Speaker knowing that it takes gumption to get things done – especially difficult things, last year as part of efforts to restore peace in the South Eastern part of the country, came up with an initiative known as ‘Peace in South East Project’, PISE-P.

The project launched on December 29, 2023, canvasses non-kinetic approach to foster peace and end insecurity bedeviling the region. Kalu has since then received commendations from the Presidency, South East governors, Royal Fathers, Ohanaeze Ndi’Igbo, and other stakeholders.

Speaking on behalf of the governors, the Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Imo State Governor Sen. Hope Uzodinma said that they were all for peace in the region. 

He said: “The events of 2021 till date have created untold insecurity in the region. It’s worrisome to all of us, those living at home and diaspora, and our brothers and sisters from all zones in the country. The Governors of the southeast region working with Ohanaeze held a security summit in Owerri where it was resolved that, to do everything possible to bring peace to the south east and stem the prevalence of insecurity in the region.

“Consequent upon that, our brother the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu, as part of the programs marking his homecoming, initiated this peace project. It’s a welcomed idea which must be commended. Anything that will bring peace to southeast is welcomed. I commend him for this brilliant idea and efforts put in. We South-east governors commend him”.

On his part, Governor Alex Otti of Abia State who read the Bende Peace Declaration said the governors and the people of the South-east are all for peace in the region. 

“We the people of the South-east hereby declare that peace is what we stand for as a region. We declare peace for prosperity. Peace for progress. We stand for peace in the South East as a catalyst that will drive growth in all sectors of the economy and rekindle the confidence of future generations. We declare that peace is better. Udo ka nma. May this day, the 29th of December 2023, at Bende, Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, South East Nigeria”, Otti said

Activating one of the pillars of the project (sports and entertainment), as part of the activities to mark his 53rd birthday, the Deputy Speaker in collaboration with Xtreme Fitness and De Latinos Concept, held an exhilarating 1,000-man road walk in Umuahia, tagged the “peace walk”.

The exciting event provided him with an opportunity to interact with the vibrant youth of Abia State, who came out en masse to exercise and walk, creating awareness for peace in the region.

Addressing journalists after the peace walk, Kalu said, “This is the first of many activities to come under this pillar in line with the Peace in South-east Project. I am confident in the potentiality of this project to propagate peace across the southeastern states as we continue to advocate for stability and progress not just for the region alone but the entire nation.”

Buttressing more on the need for peace, Kalu when he addressed members of Club 17 Peace Movement, Abia State Caucus and Local Government Executives, who paid him a courtesy visit, hinted at engaging “Peace Marshals” in all wards in the region.

The Deputy Speaker said that the “peace marshals” will be an arm of PISE-P, and the agents will act as peace preachers and reconciliation officers.

He asked the team to commence action, starting with all wards in Abia, and later to be extended to other South East States to achieve the aims of PISE-P.

On the D-day, May 5th Kalu expressed gratitude to God Almighty for his blessings and celebrated the day with pensioners, widows, orphans and the under-served people in the society.

The people numbering over 2000 were drawn from across the 17 local government areas of Abia State and other states in the South East geopolitical zone.

Speaking at the event which was held in his country home in Bende, Kalu said the gathering was to celebrate humanity. 

He said that the event had no political connotations but purely a divine mandate to spread love and encourage unity amongst Nigerians. 

The Deputy Speaker distributed truckload of food, household items and grants to the people to assist them. He also organised an eyecare medical outreach where the aged had a check on their eyes with free eyeglasses to enhance their sight and vision.

He said: “This is what leadership is supposed to be. I can afford to be in Abuja in a fancy hotel with friends. But the question is what happens to these ones who are the underserved. Even recently the wife of the President, senator Tinubu, has been working hard to remember the aged. If you look around, you will see the aged, the pensioners. They are hardly invited to meetings. When they are doing empowerment, no one remembers them. Look at the widows. Nobody tells them I love you. Nobody tells them I care for you, yet they are our mothers. They are the mothers of this nation. 

“What I decided to do today is to incorporate even the physically challenged ones, the school of the blind, less privileged, motherless babies homes they are all here. God asked me to do this, celebrate with these underserved. What’s the essence of keeping things only for politics, when it’s election period, campaign period, then you bring them out? 

“What about humanity? I’m not interested in the political party or region they belong to. I’m interested in the color of humanity which shows if you’re up, extend your hands to lift those who are down. Today, we are giving them food. We are giving them the ones they will go home with. We’ll also give them money, small grants that they can go home with. Just a show of love. This is Benjamin’s day, let’s spread love. Let’s spread peace, unity and show each other that we care. What’s sweet about it is that some of them are not even from my federal constituency. They cut across all parts of Igbo land. And I said come let’s dine together and I’m happy they are here”.

The Deputy Speaker expressed optimism of better days in the nearest future, saying that the President is working tirelessly to reposition the country in all spheres, urging Nigerians to support the current administration. 

On the sidelines of these laudable humanitarian activities, were political evangelism to win souls for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the next general election.

During his visit to the Governor of the State, Alex Otti, the Deputy Speaker urged him to return to the All Progressives Congress.

Also speaking when he received the members of the Ukwa Local Government chapter of APC and the party’s new members led by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Abia commissioner, Chief Dimgba Eruba, Kalu asked them to expand their grassroots mobilisation and get more people to join the party.

The Deputy Speaker stressed the need to consolidate power to ensure that President Bola Tinubu emerges victorious come 2027 general elections and as well ensure that APC wins the next gubernatorial election in the state.

Elated by the gale of defection to the APC, in the South-East, the Deputy Speaker specifically asked the NDDC commissioner, Eruba to use his position to continue to build the party for the victory of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the next election.

The Deputy Speaker said, “You have done well. Ukwa is collapsing. The testimony is clear. Continue the good work. I met with the Governor the other day and I urged him to return to APC. We need to deliver here for Mr. President, we have to keep mobilizing until the sitting Governor will see that it’s APC everywhere you go. 

“Keep up the good work, bring more people, let’s expand the party. We will hold an event where all the big people, that have structure in the party will receive you, from Bende, Ohafia, Item, Umuahia, Ukwa and so on. I will bring the national chairman of the party to receive you. We will make sure that as you’re coming in, you will be stakeholders. You will have a stake and you’re accountable. We will try our best to support Mr President as he supports you, by building the party. Thank you all.”

There is no gainsaying that Benjamin Okezie Kalu (BOK) cares, and he’s just getting started with his humanitarian and peace initiatives. Happy Birthday once again to a visionary leader, cheers to the next 50 years in good health and More Gumption!!!

*Orizu, is SA Press Affairs to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.


“What I decided to do today is to incorporate even the physically challenged ones, the school of the blind, less privileged, motherless babies homes they are all here. God asked me to do this, celebrate with these underserved. What’s the essence of keeping things only for politics, when it’s election period, campaign period, then you bring them out?

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