By Kevin Onyemaechi Eze
I have known a long time ago that human beings, especially politicians, no matter how you choose to look at them, are not yet grounded in the art of allowing common sense and wisdom to take centre stage. They still play politics of bitterness, hatred and jealousy and sell themselves to undue emotionalism.
Long enough, Orji Uzor Kalu has recorded business successes, a romance with national and international politics, but found himself in the muddy waters. Still in the same politics that produced him as a governor, he formed a political party, which saw him compete for the highest office with a narrow miss. Now he is a senator, a Chief Whip for that matter. But the enemies won’t let him be.
His travails began way back before he became a governor. How could a young man of 38 beat every other titan to become governor? It looked impossible at that time but he had the capacity and wherewithal.
As a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and a major financier, Kalu donated huge sums of money to the party at inception, specifically, N100 millionfor its registration in 1999 and another N100 million to former President Olusegun Obasanjo as support for his presidential campaign in the same year. Kalu was powerful as a PDP governor and wielded a lot of influence as one of the most courageous, active and fearless public servants. He served two terms in Abia State. He also won election into the Nigerian Senate to represent Abia North District in the National Assembly (2019). Relying on the enormous goodwill and political network he had across the country, Kalu was elected the Senate Chief Whip, which placed him as the fourth in leadership ranking of senators in Nigeria.
Previously, as governor between 1999 and 2007, he transformed Aba into a major economic hub in Nigeria and the West African sub-region as a whole. He left behind a legacy of public infrastructure, affordable and inclusive health system, strong, free and accessible education, strong industrial base, pro-poor social services, job creation, as well as attractive and competitive investment climate in the state. Till date, the development strides he ignited in the state are unsurpassed by his predecessors and successors.
As a senator, he built 19 roads in his first year in the Senate and plans to have more than 60 completed roads in Abia North in four years. He has also continued to build schools, hospitals and streetlights.
Despite his achievements, his enemies continue to despise him, dragging his name and working hard to change the narratives about him, especially his records as governor. A few times, they succeeded; many other times, they failed. It is time for these enemies to look deeper and give up on him. Kalu has a throne mentality and a winning attitude. He is a destined child and his enemies will remain his footstool.
With the protruded pregnancy in the envisaged political landscape ahead of 2023 and peace returning to the disturbed South East region, many watchers of Nigerian politics postulate that Senator Kalu has a big role in the emerging leadership in the next dispensation. Permutation again, whether it should be presented to the South East or not. It should go there, of course; it is what Nigeria, over time, has become; the rotation and power display to be worn by all, and the exception should not be the South East.
It is its time, its moment. Maturity and the political intent of good purpose should be shown and evidently transparent. He is shrewd, yes; one would not expect him not to be; you need that shrewdness to succeed, and he has succeeded and is still in the business of it where others have since given up, licking their agonies.
Yet, he is the embodiment of what fullness should be: a complete human mien, detribalised and all-accommodating and embracing. His politics and mindset are fine; his first thought is national relevance and cogency, as in all trueness should aspire and ascribe to the little and small needs of all.
In politics wrapped up in fears, in distrust, right from time, he has become and he is a member of the national and local uomo di fiducia: he can be trusted with the nation’s national entity as well as its entire facets. He has made friends; these are true friends, not based on politics, not based on business, but true friendship in the true sense of it, because of the values he thinks and knows and places in what friendship really is about. He has invested in political, business, intellectual as well as youthful friendship.
Humble, but not meek to any human failings.
And this friendship is across board, without any discrimination, which at times has been grossly misunderstood, as the betrayal of their local trust and belief. He is a personification of loyalty, that loyalty that can be counted upon, the reason for his membership of uomo di fiducia of a country yearning for the breakthrough he can help broker and achieve.
Look at him and you would see the face of a true Nigerian that stretches to the roots of Nigerianness.
•Eze, a political analyst, writes from Awka