By Henry Umahi
When Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu was campaigning for the Abia North senatorial seat in 2019, he presented a pro-people manifesto and ran an exciting campaign never witnessed in the area. And having won, he is impressively living up to the promises he made to Abia North.
As a senator, Kalu combines uncommon passion and energy in doing his work, leaving indelible marks in the hearts of his people. His representation at the Senate has witnessed unassailable momentum, resulting in profound dividends of democracy for his constituency within a short time. This is true to his culture of giving back to society,
As someone put it, “those in doubt should draw up the comparative analysis between him and the previous ones in their 17 months in office. You will be shocked at how well he has represented the senatorial zone. Many had occupied that seat for longer period with next to nothing to show for it in the lives of our people.”
Indeed, these are cheery times for the people of Abia North. And they have every cause to celebrate. They are celebrating Kalu’s achievements as their representative in the Senate in so short a time.
Daily Sun was in Abia North last week and saw a people who are counting their blessings for making the right choice in choosing their representative in the upper legislative chamber.
The people of Abia North are excited that many of the dilapidated primary school classroom blocks in the five local government areas that make up the zone have been rehabilitated by Kalu to create conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning.
They are also dancing for joy because of the empowerment programmes of the man they love to call OUK. Investigation revealed that Kalu has distributed generators, sewing machines, motorcycles and grinding machines, among others, to his constituents to make life less stressful for them. He has also facilitated the rehabilitation and construction of roads and drainages in his constituency.
A retired headmaster in Ozu Abam, in Arochukwu Local Government Area, Ndem Onwuka, told the reporter: “We are very happy with the rehabilitation of some primary schools in our area because education is the cornerstone of human development; it’s the best investment you can make in the life of people.
“When you make it possible for people to be properly educated, you have invested so much in their future. It’s like teaching them how to fish, instead of giving them fish. With the new structures we have, children will be happy to go to school and parents will be encouraged to send their children and wards to school. If children are learning under dilapidated structures, parents would be afraid that such structures could collapse on their children. In fact, we’ve never had it so good in recent times.”
For 70-year-old Ogbonnaya Obike, a football coach from Umuogbe, Okoko Item, the chief whip of the Senate is a beloved son of Abia and they are proud of him.
Obike told the reporter: “I cannot speak evil of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in any manner because he is a worthy son of Abia North senatorial district, Abia State and Nigeria. Let me start from the time he went to the House of Representatives, he took care of the people in many ways. He paid school fees for many children and did so many things to make life more meaningful for the people.
“When he became governor of Abia State, he worked like someone who loved his people. He gave free education from primary school to secondary school. He built new roads and rehabilitated old ones. He opened up rural areas by creating new roads.
“For instance, before the coming of Kalu as governor, it was a herculean task to go to Bende, our headquarters. We used to rigmarole through Umuahia and Ikwuano before getting to Bende. But when he came in as governor, he fixed the road and it became easy. So, from Item, you move through Igbere – Ozu Item and enter Bende. That made movement easy for the people of Abia North. Mind you, as governor, he distributed infrastructural development to every part of Abia State. Now as a senator, I will tell you, Kalu is representing us well. He is fulfilling the expectations of our people. Even before he was elected as a senator, he fixed some roads for us. As a senator, he started rehabilitating schools all over the local government areas in the zone. He has also fixed roads and drainages.”
The coach, however, added that it’s not yet uhuru for them. “But Kalu should also know that there is hunger in the land. He should try to alleviate the suffering of the people in terms of hunger. Paying school fees for children is not easy, especially if you have three or more children in school at the same time. He should try to assist us in this regard.
“Again, bandits are disturbing us round the clock. He should use his position to help us because bandits and herdsmen attack us on the major road. We pray to God to protect and guide him in his future endeavours. The worst hit in terms of banditry and insecurity is the Isuikwuato area,” he said.
Mazi Kalu Odo, from Amekpu Ohafia, said that nothing less was expected from the chief whip of the Senate, considering his antecedents. He said: “Kalu has proven over the years that he is a man among men. He is a go-getter. Whether you like or despise Kalu or his style of politics, you cannot ignore him. He has uncommon passion to serve and the political sagacity to excel against all odds.
“Indeed, Kalu could be dressed in the admirable robe of a leader in whom his people are well pleased. He is the best thing to happen to us as far as the National Assembly is concerned.
“We are seeing the good things that Kalu is bringing to our area, particularly the newly rehabilitated schools, such as the Okpoke Primary School. It is a good thing for us because the importance of education cannot be overemphasized, especially when the environment is good for learning. All I can say is that he is trying and he shouldn’t relent in his efforts to give us good life and a sense of belonging. He should not give up, even if there is opposition or obstacle. You know, there are people who may disagree with him due to political differences but that should not deter him from facilitating and executing the laudable projects in his heart. He is a man of the people and that is why we always support him. If you do not know, he is the Ikenga of Ohafia, which is a very big honour or recognition. We are very proud of him.
“Having said this, there are other things we want him to do for us. As our brother and son, he knows those areas where we are lacking. So, he should help us in those areas.
“There are bandits and herdsmen troubling people traveling from Umuahia to this area. People are afraid to travel on that route because you don’t know how your journey will end. So, he should help us in terms of providing security on that road. He should use his position to bring security to that area to safeguard life and property.”
Kanayo Michael, who rides okada in Isuikwuato, said: “Orji Uzor Kalu is a wonderful man and I want to thank him for helping people over the years. He has helped many new mothers to offset their bills in hospital. We are also grateful that he is rehabilitating classroom blocks in all the zone and the empowerment programmes at Isuochi and Ahaba, Isuikwuato, through which many people were assisted. For this reason, I pray that God should continue to bless him and make a way for him even where there is no way.
“Through his empowerment programme, many youths and women were given motorcycles, sewing machines and hair dryers for hairdressers, among other things. In fact, he really tried.”
But Kanayo advised that the empowerment programme should be expanded. According to him, “Kalu should assist those who are strong enough to go into farming and poultry business. There are people who really know how to cultivate rice and do the necessary things but they do not have anybody to support or assist them. “That is why you see many young men riding motorcycle to eke out a living. It’s not as if all of us love to ride motorcycle; many are doing it because there is nothing else to do.
“On my own side, there is something that, if it is done for me, many others would benefit from it. If the senator can empower me financially, there is enough land to plant cassava. I can teach people how to do the business and, in the next few months, the cassava will be turned to garri and sold. I’m doing the business but on a very low scale. So, people like us should be supported to do other things to help ourselves and the society. I believe that, if Kalu gets to hear my cry, he will help.”
Uche Onwuchekwa, former chief press secretary to the former deputy governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, and political analyst from Igbere, Bende LGA, said: “I have never had any doubt about what Kalu could do. I have known him for some years and I know that he has a Midas touch.
“Those you know can attest to Kalu’s performance as a governor. It is said that truth crushed to earth shall rise again. No matter what Kalu’s detractors may say, he is an outstanding performer. As a senator, he has not only surpassed people’s expectations, he would most certainly do more in the days ahead. I am aware of the renovation of schools and roads as well human capacity building and empowerment.”
Onwuchekwa argued that, considering Kalu’s pedigree, he should throw his hat into the presidential ring in 2023.
Hon. Benjamin Kalu, representing Bende Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives argued that Kalu’s performance is beyond his “position as a senator but the web of contacts he had built over the years, his wealth of goodwill and burning desire to bring dividends of democracy to the people of Abia North.”
“Instead of influencing the projects out of our zone on selfish grounds, he is insisting the electorate must experience the dividends of democracy from the present government of APC. He is doing well and we are following his footsteps. No wonder the APC, as a party, is the most beautiful bride in Abia State today.
“Abia North has not seen anything yet. Watch out for more in the coming years.
“Though we are very close and he raised me in politics, but I’m one of his worst critics and would have told him if he was not accomplishing much as promised. Therefore, on behalf of Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State, who have mandated me during the last town hall meeting and have asked me to publicly commend him for a job so well done so far and to pledge my support for future accomplishments considering his marks all around Bende Federal Constituency, I hereby officially commend the senator representing Abia North senatorial zone, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, for changing the face of the zone within a short space of time in office despite the initial challenges.”
Some of Kalu’s numerous interventions spread across the zone
Rehabilitation of three blocks in Ndi Agwu Abam Primary School, Okweji Memorial School Ozu-Abam, Agbagwu Primary School, Aro Town in Arochukwu Local Government Area; Rehabilitation of two blocks in Ugwuafia Primary School, Kpoke Primary School in Ohafia LGA; Rehabilitation of two blocks at Otamkpa Community School, Ahaba, Imenyi Community School in Isiukwuato LGA; Rehabilitation of two blocks at Umuelem Central School, Isuochi; Eziama Community School, Nneato, in Umunneochi LGA; Rehabilitation of three blocks at Ozutem Central School, Okafia Primary School and Item Central School, Okoko, in Bende LGA Abia.
Projects for Abia North to be accommodated in the 2021 budget include the construction of 1km rural road with drainage and asphalt from Ututu to Isu in Arochukwu LGA at N90 million, construction of 2km rural road with drainage and asphalt in Itumbauzo, Bende LGA at N180 million, construction of 1km rural road with drainage and asphalt from Apanu to Akanu in Item, Bende LGA at N90 million, construction of 1km rural road with drainage and asphalt in Uzo Rubber in Amaokwe Item in Bende LGA at N90 million, construction of 2km rural road with drainage and asphalt in Amankalu Alayi to Akoli Imenyi in Bende LGA at N180 million, construction of 1km rural road with drainage and asphalt in Amaoku Alayi in Bende LGA at N90 million, construction of 2km rural road with drainage and asphalt from Abia to Akanu Ukwu in Ohafia LGA at N180 million, construction of 1km rural road with drainage and asphalt Isiugwu, Ohafia LGA at N90 million and construction of 2km rural road with drainage and asphalt in Uturu Township in Isuikwuato LGA at N180 million.
Others include construction of 1km rural road with drainage and asphalt from Ozara junction to Umuasu in Isuikwuato LGA (University Road Junction) at N90 million, construction of 1km rural road with drainage and asphalt from Ndi Uduma Awaoke (Chief Awa Kalu SAN Road) in Ohafia LGA at N90 million, construction of students hostel in Holy Rosary Secondary School, Umuahia, at N50 million, supply of motorcycles, sewing machines and generating sets for Bende LGA at N100 million and supply of motorcycles, sewing machines and generating sets for Ohafia LGA at N100 million.
Others are supply of motorcycles, sewing machines and generating sets for Arochukwu LGA at N100 million, supply of wound gel and gynaecological (cervical cancer gel) for Abia North Senatorial District at N100 million and supply of rice and fertilizers for rural women in the five LGAs of Abia North senatorial district at N200 million.
The projects are expected to cost about N2 billion.
He is impressively living up to the promises he made to Abia North.