By Ebere Wabara
An aside: not too long ago, I lost one of my handsets at an interactive forum hosted by Mr. Peter Obi for eminent journalists in Lagos. Subsequently, my line, I suspect based on my strong inkling, was used to exchange salacious messages with Senator Theodore Ahamefula Orji in purported and malicious disloyalty to my misperceived boss!
The person whom I suspect went away with my phone called me weeks later—from the blues on my second line—and stressed the need for me to reconcile with T.A. Orji! Of course, I never did and will never for obvious reasons known to one and all. It can only be imagined the kind of horrendous betrayal the mischievous fellow must have created! The telephonic cruelty set me thinking about copious utilitarian possibilities via the communicative instrumentality!
Chief Orji Kalu’s senatorial victory reaffirmation at the Appeal Court did not come as a surprise to most of us who irrevocably had the conviction and strong belief that this time round nobody can use the legal system to subvert the people’s will and their choice of today’s birthday celebrator.
From the outset, I had no doubt in my mind that our astute principal would dust his rivals. There was no question about the former governor’s capacity and competency to beat all his opponents hands down!
Even stalwarts of the PDP are already celebrating Senator Kalu who recently completed the rehabilitation of the road leading to Umuhu Ezechi in Bende Local Government, among other on-going transformative interventions in the entirety of Abia North constituency.
Let me preface this celebratory article with the pertinent words of the Senate Chief Whip, which he avowed on Sunday, February 24, 2019, immediately his sweet victory was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC): “The people of Abia North Senatorial Zone came out en masse to cast their votes for President Muhammadu Buhari, my good self and other APC candidates in the presidential and National Assembly elections. I salute the courage, boldness and patriotism displayed by the electorate in choosing their preferred candidates.
“The people of Abia North Senatorial Zone had been deprived of qualitative representation for many years. I will use my network of contacts and political dexterity to uplift our communities. The challenges facing our people have been diligently articulated with possible solutions highlighted. Having served in different capacities in the public sector, I will bring to bear my experience in discharging my duties. Politics is not a do-or-die affair and as such I will adopt as always an all-inclusive and participatory approach in my legislative responsibilities.”
The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, in 2015, established the fact that the result of the Abia North senatorial election was heinously mutilated. The implication of this is that the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) candidate in that poll and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Kalu, was robbed of his victory. Short of declaring him winner, the appellate court ordered a re-run, which took place subsequently with a predictable outcome.
Of all the contestants in the 2019 race, I did not see anyone of them competing with Dr. Kalu in terms of quality representation that would be most efficient and beneficial to the people of this axis. Even his opponents and their supporters know this full well. In most other communities, the personage of Dr. Kalu will get him this senatorial mandate on a silver platter based on his robust political antecedents, profound clout/contacts and economic contributions to the country’s transformation. His superlative philanthropic pedigree alone must have earned him votes in that evergreen victory.
The docility in the representation of the state generally and Abia North particularly at the red chamber is experiencing a holistic revival with the catalytic introduction of Senator Kalu on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
There is unmitigated charlatanism among the political elite from the South East axis. They conduct themselves in a spineless and inarticulate manner that you wonder if they know anything about political philosophy, ideology and strategy. For them, anything goes, especially when there is lolly. My people in politics do not stand for anything—wherever the wind blows them, they go sheepishly. This explains why other ethnic nationalities play games with them, endlessly!
The charlatanism and opportunism cascade from the National Assembly to political appointments, state governorship, aspiration for political offices, local government administration, and contributions to national political discourses and re-engineering. Apart from Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, whose subtle function in the Senate is to justify their jumbo pay and allowances, the highest in the world, you hardly hear or read any critical intervention from the Igbo caucus as individuals or as a collective.
Unfortunately, the same disappointing scenario plays out in the lower chamber. Their counterparts from other parts of the country make vibrant contributions in the hallowed chambers. Membership of committees, which someone tried futilely to impress on me, is so rudimentary as to constitute a key performance threshold. As far as I am concerned, there is so much parliamentary docility informed by naivety on the part of South East representatives at the National Assembly with the incontrovertible exception of Dr. Kalu—by virtue of his official position in the Senate among other testamentary credentials.
It should not even be a surprise if consideration is given to the profile of most of these lawmakers! Parliamentarians from the other parts of the country obviously are doing far better than their Ndigbo colleagues in terms of legislative activism! No longer do we have the calibre of the Oyi of Oyi, the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, a respected, highly cerebral, colourful and pleasantly intimidating senator.
You take ministers and other appointees from this zone. Most times, the best are not considered for such offices because the power brokers, particularly governors, nominate their acolytes and lackeys for such national assignments. So, at the end of the day, performance is below expectation and at the slightest opportunity, they are dropped ignominiously, usually. This is despite the fact that we have a superfluity of professionals with profuse competencies and inimitable experiences.
Out of most former South East governors, it is only suave PDP Vice-Presidential candidate Peter Obi of Anambra State whose sterling and illuminative performance reminds one of the glorious days of the late Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe as governor of the old Imo State. Ever since De Sam’s exit, the South East has not known superlative leadership at the state level anymore apart from Obi’s manifest efforts at recreating such developmental paradigms.
It is only in South East that 37 aspirants—mostly nincompoops and frauds—will jostle for a governorship position in a particular state. At the presidential level, too, zone the office to the region and risk multitudinous aspirants. Everyone wants to be the president even when there is ample evidence of emptiness of almost all the contestants, who cannot even qualify for councillorship polls!
Governance/government is a continuum. This fluidity presupposes that it is a thin line indeed between past administrations and contemporary ones in terms of policies and their execution, including all other allied incidentals and tangential. Kalu going to the Senate is for national legislation and not provincial governance.
As I had always stated in the past for the umpteenth time, Dr. Kalu is an unusual publisher because he does not meddle in the day-to-day running of his media conglomerate. These avowals are matters that could be verified independently or professionally through reputable media monitors/agencies/audit and content analysts.
I have also heard in some circles that Dr. Kalu was diligent in his first term and achieved so much, but went to sleep in the second leg of his governance of Abia State. Even as this is debatable, let us, for purposes of the benefit of doubt, accept the template that he worked real hard and attained laudable heights in the first leg of his governorship of Abia while not living up to expectation in the second-half of his eight-year stint, what do we say of his successor who admits that he spent virtually his first term in office (2007-2011) trying to extricate himself from the imaginary stranglehold of his predecessor? And his second term in the deconstruction, demystification, criminalization and borderless humiliation of Dr. Kalu and dismantling of all vestiges and appurtenances of the Kalu irrepressible and invincible empire that flourishes commensurably with the interminable assaults and invasions from Umuahia, of all places!
No matter the degree of disagreement and disaffection between leaders, the overriding fact is that governance is a continuum and must not be personalized because of its public-service orientation. Citizens’ interest must be paramount on all occasions and in all circumstances.
Dr. Kalu is not a saint—just as nobody is. He indelibly committed irredeemable, unforgivable and unforgettable mistakes most especially his unilateral introduction and inauguration of erstwhile Governor T.A. Orji, his ultimate and karmic nemesis! The point that gladdens my heart superlatively is the deep knowledge that Dr. Kalu is better than most of his critics and traducers in all ramifications and by all yardsticks.
I have the conviction that Senate Chief Whip will make gargantuan difference in his upper legislative assignment most especially because of his distinction in the public sector and other spheres of existential humanism. These attributes need not be amplified because everyone nationwide knows his capacities and competencies in these matters.
Distinguished Senator Kalu, all your boys in the exponentially inelastic media team hail you as we take off our hats to you in celebration of your 61st birthday! May God continue to keep you for us, especially, and humanity generally.
I supplicate that all those who misperceive, misunderstand and mismanage you should rethink because you are a good man—I have justificatory evidence for those who care to know. Cheers sir and so shall it be!