Editor's note: Jude Ndukwe, a political commentator and analyst writes on the politics in Abia state and Nigeria as a whole.
Ndukwe, in this piece, analyses the numerous political exploits made by a former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor-Kalu, the criminal charges against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and his defection to the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party.
As Orji Uzor Kalu continues to face trial over alleged diversion of Abia state funds to the whopping tune of N2.9bn in his time as governor of the state at the Federal High Court, Lagos, and his many conflicted statements and political activities that portray him as a desperate favour-seeking man of unstable character, one is compelled to attempt to ask how an otherwise fine man has so suddenly fallen from grace.
This to the extent that his entrance at any time into Abia state where he once held sway as governor for eight years is greeted with disdain and odium while the people heave a heavy sigh of relief at his departure for they always consider his presence in the state as contaminating and a sad reminder of how OUK, as he was popularly called, laid the foundation of political rascality, economic hardship and social dysfunction which subsequent governors have worked tirelessly to reverse over the years.
When a man is so unstable and lacking in any conviction to the extent that he moves back and forth, changing political parties at will to suit his narrow and primordial causes, such a man proves he is of little value and lacks in integrity.
Even former president Olusegun Obasanjo said so much about Orji Kalu in his best-selling book, “My Watch”, wherein he said inter alia: “…it was a pre-emptive strike to cover up his (Kalu) corruption, lack of integrity and absolutely disreputable character” (Chapter 43).
That is the verdict of a man who should know!
As a man who “lacks integrity” and parades an “absolutely disreputable character”, Orji Uzor Kalu holds the unenviable record of being the politician in the entire nation with the highest number of defections from one party to another in the very short history of our current democratic dispensation.
Seeing that no responsible party would give its presidential ticket to an executive urchin like himself, Orji Kalu left the PDP in 2006 while he was governor on the ticket of the party to form his own party the Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA, on whose platform he overstretched his political rating and contested for the 2007 presidential election where he failed abysmally.
He was subsequently suspended by party executives as BOT chairman of that party he founded and funded for reasons of highhandedness and other sundry issues.
He was reported to have been so tyrannical as he has always been that the PPA was ready and willing to cut off all ties with him even though he was funding the party heavily.
It was a sacrifice worth making by the party as his rascality already led the then party’s national chairman, Clement Ebri, deputy national chairman south, Lisa Olu Akerele and the national treasurer, Emma Omokwe, to voluntarily resign their positions.
It is the same tyranny and rascality that made Orji Uzor Kalu hold the unenviable record of being the only governor in the history of Nigeria who has had three different deputies while in office. Such a poor human and resources manager!
In an attempt to redeem himself from all these, Kalu made a return to the PDP in 2013 amidst rancour, as so many stakeholders were against him returning, and rightly so, because of his destructive antecedents, only for him to return to PPA from the PDP shortly after to contest for senate in the 2015 elections.
He was so unpopular he lost it by miles.
Having failed in that bid, he did what he knows how to do best: jump ship again for the umpteenth time and joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) for what many has described as an attempt to curry favours from the presidency in order to be let off the hook in the N2.9bn corruption case EFCC has instituted against him.
Like his other misadventures, his expectations shall be cut off as the EFCC has continued with his prosecution, and rightly so, to his chagrin.
His subsequent failures and the rejections he has suffered in every of his political enterprise since he left Abia State government house in 2007 is an eloquent testimony to what Obasanjo said about Orji Kalu using his mother to gain political ascendancy.
Obasanjo sums it up in his book, “My Watch”, this way: “He (Orji Uzor Kalu) had earlier tried to be close to me and even set his mother at me. But having known his background, bad reputation, ignoble behaviour in Maiduguri and the mother as a shameless accomplice, I maintained distance from him as a state governor of PDP”.
Since his mother who was reputed to be Abia’s de facto governor in Kalu’s time earning the State the ridiculous reputation of running a “Mothercracy” nursed by “Mother Excellency” has become too weak with age to continue to do the biddings of some highly placed men that could help her son to continue climbing the political ladder, his political fortunes have nosedived irredeemably.
For Obasanjo to have confirmed that Kalu “set his mother” at him, and goes further to describe her as a “shameless accomplice”, proves what she must have been doing in her desperate bid to keep oiling the wheel of her son’s political progress.
Fortunately, there is always a limit to how such “woman power” can help a perpetually distrusted son. Now that the woman has been forced into early political retirement by the unscrupulous activities of his son, Kalu has since remained in political wilderness.
There is no leader who encounters Orji Uzor Kalu whether at the state or federal level that is not left to regret ever encountering such a wily man.
Obasanjo expresses his regrets of ever encountering him thus: “With the benefit of hindsight, if PDP had checked the background and track record of its gubernatorial candidates thoroughly in 1999, Orji Uzor Kalu should not have been a qualified candidate, even for a local government chairmanship let alone a governorship candidate”.
What a verdict!
This should serve as a lesson to president Muhammadu Buhari and all those who think Orji Uzor Kalu’s coming to APC confers any advantage on the party.
If anything, Kalu’s presence will finally extinguish whatever flick of light is left of that party.
And as if desecrating the political arena wantonly with his desperation is not enough, Kalu took his delinquent behavior to the academia where as governor, and visitor to the Abia state University, Uturu, ABSU, he obtained a degree which he was subsequently stripped off after the university discovered that his admission and graduation processes breached the extant Academic Regulations of the university.
Orji Uzor Kalu’s misadventures and perverseness are legion that he is not supposed to be seen anywhere near our political landscape and his contributions to national discourse treated like the mendacities of an unrepentant hypocrite who goes about cap in hand soliciting for favours with flattery and sophistry even at the expense of established institutions and individuals who have seen through his deceit and fallen out with him.
But when we still have a system that accommodates area boys in high places, people like Orji will still manage to squeeze themselves into positions of prominent obscurity until that time when their political careers and empty egos are finally deflated and cremated! And that time is fast approaching!
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