By Ebere Wabara
JUST in case you do not, surprisingly, know, ‘OUK’ stands for Orji Uzor Kalu, who needs no introduction except to reaffirm that he was the “Action Governor” of Abia State, according to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, between 1999 and 2007. The only governor ever so described in such a laudatory phraseology by a serving president in the country’s history.
Hurrah, OUK, the irrepressible Trojan and humanist, is 56 years old today! His supersonic impact on the country’s politico-economic profile is such that you will think he was already 70. He has done superlative things in life at home and abroad that some of his peers and elders have never dreamt of, let alone actualising. Dr. Kalu is simply an enigma, who has all his fingers on every imaginable pie. His visage symbolises bursting youthfulness, if not mature exuberance.
This celebrator deserves all the honours and recognition that would be outpoured today in various parts of the world, as his teeming admirers, associates, friends, well-wishers, acquaintances and family at home and overseas commemorate his birthday in grandiloquent dimensions in architectural environments resplendent of Romanesque typicality. In his palatial homes in Washington, Igbere, Abuja and Lagos, the flora and fauna that inhabit these places will know that it is a celebratory day in the life of one of Nigeria’s most loved and most popular personalities.
In line with his Forbes’ rating as one of 50 Africa’s richest men, his quintessential philanthropy is borderless and boundless to the point of superfluity and satiety. A veritable icon of human existentialism, Dr. Kalu is a rare, uncommon, legend in virtually all spheres of life. What he marginally lacks in formal scholastic enterprise, he makes up with high intelligence quotient, knowledge and wisdom such that even those with professorial attainments cannot intimidate him. Dr. Kalu indisputably knows his onions.
Our celebrator’s sterling leadership characterisation is almost inimitable. Most people acknowledge his political sagacity, entrepreneurial wizardry and economic ambassadorship all of which explain why he is a household name in the Nigerian firmament and a referential personage in international commerce. His industry knows no bounds. You cannot but be baffled by his versatility, acumen and prodigious commitment to investment issues. He has a passionate drive for mega-businesses that border on industrialisation and optimal human capital utility. Even most people with the finest of education cannot compete with this naturally endowed investor of global repute. His illimitable contributions to the socio-economic and political transformation of Nigeria cannot be overemphasised.
A leader of leaders, we in your media team felicitate with you for inspiring most of our fellow countrymen and women beyond their wildest imaginations. You have touched and continue to touch more and more lives, using innumerable instrumentalities and platforms, particularly your unparalleled philanthropic stamp and cosummate compassion for the less-privileged members of the society. On one of our trips from Owerri Airport to Abuja Airport on a chartered flight, you spent not less than N5 million on all manner of airport staff in both locations. I witnessed the naira rain and took mental note of the N1, 000 bundles as you dished out from the bag of one of your orderlies. In fact, one of your close aides, Prince Kunle Oyewumi, intimated to me much later that it was a routine!
No matter the level of hardship in the country, you still put smiles on people’s faces. I recollect one day during a convoy bus ride en route to Igbere from Enugu where we had made a whistling stop to see Prince Arthur Eze and you mused that you only got debit alerts on your handset and wondered aloud when credit alerts would start popping up! Your own credit alert comes from heavenly realms, as God pilots your ways and finances – not earthly sources!
Your amiability and dynamism are humongous. Your testament to diligence, integrity, honesty of purpose and service to people all over the world is confirmatory of an exemplary life. Well-meaning Nigerians will continue to extol your virtues, recognise your immense contributions to the country and the world and continue to appreciate you despite vanishing pockets of oppositional forces and malcontents, who are peeved by your soar-away accomplishments in spite of the thorns strewn on your way by detractors and jealous clans of hate domiciled especially in Abia State.
There is no doubt that you are resoundingly exceptional in copious ways, as an achiever in multifarious aspects of life. The only minus in Dr. Kalu’s political trajectory is unilaterally foisting his successor in office, T. A. Orji, on Abians. The celebrator has profusely apologised to the people of Abia State for that misadventure adamantly engineered by him.
First among equals and his peers, Dr. Kalu has brought creativity to business and politics. This novelty has made him to be a master-strategist in whatever he does, especially in entrepreneurship and politics. In the process, he has had to ruffle feathers and moved on magisterially, not allowing any concomitant drawback, arising from economic or political miscalculations to derail him. He is never deterred by failure – as he is always resolute on what the future holds in store for him.
Attributes that distinguish our subject today include courage, determination, vision, focus, forthrightness, empathy, astuteness, fear of God, hardwork, kindness, love, candour, thoughtfulness and pan-nationalism. These are some of the motivating factors that keep OUK on, as he strives for the betterment of his environment and humanity, irrespective of one’s ethnic group or language. For him, humanity is universal and should not be bogged by mundane and divisive elements.
A devout Catholic, Dr. Kalu does not indulge in excesses, as is typical of most moneybags. He enjoys the company of friends and staff more than any other thing. In ardent subscription to this lifestyle, he spends long hours, holding courts amid dining and wining with various groups and individuals all day long. For him, there is no time for perishable/ worthless engagements. There are no airs of superiority or haughtiness around him whatsoever. He sits at the table for meals with commoners without anyone knowing who the master is. Timidity puts him off. For him, boldness is a great source of joy and happiness. In the same breath, he does not flaunt his wealth or live the life of aristocracy. You know great men by the way they treat people of lower rungs.
Dr. Kalu, the Aba boy of yesterday, has grown to become a global citizen. Indeed, the young chap of no spectacular beginning has come of age and overflowing wealth. With business portfolios and tentacles spanning four continents and still counting, he is now the grandmaster of investments. By dint of diligence and God’s blessings, he has become a household name that there is hardly any hamlet in Nigeria where his name does not ring a bell and even opens doors. The name, Kalu, is now synonymous with dynamism, accomplishments and vision. The superfluity of goodwill he attracts is so confounding that one wonders what the magic wand is. He is at home everywhere in Nigeria. People’s love for him surpasses that of a mother for her child! Only very few Nigerians have this kind of cross-border personage and overwhelming acceptability.
His passion for sports is so legendary that it does not require rehashing here. The only point to underscore here is that under his tutleage, Enyimba International Football Club of Aba, became three consecutive winners of the biggest elusive title on the continent, the African Champions’ Club Cup of the Confederation of African Football. Dr. Kalu has gone ahead to become the Pillar of Sports in Africa after the late M.K.O. Abiola.
Dr. Kalu’s pan-Nigerianism is unprecedented so much that virtually all his companies are headed by non-Igbo. Only a few entrepreneurs can entrust their conglomerates in the hands of people outside their geopolity. I know the murmurings among my Ndigbo brothers about this externalisation of our “right” and “entitlement” in the Nigerian thinking! In corroboration of this intriguing philosophy, most of his domestic staff in Nigeria and worldwide are not from the South East!
Somewhat, there is obviously God’s hand in the fortunes of the man we are all toasting today. Despite his human frailties and occasional misjudgments, everything seems to work in his favour. The only setback he has probably suffered in life is electoral banditry, but with time, he should be vindicated by the revalidation of his latest senatorial victory. The bandits and other hypercritics of this Adonis helplessly and haplessly appreciate his large heart and sportsmanship in politics and holistic attitudinal disposition to life. Some of them confide in me.
Dr. Kalu has just done the first leg of a tripodal journey on earth. The second eminent leg begins tomorrow and the last lap will commence 56 years thence – in other words another 56 years from now! We all in your global media team – including blue-blooded, charming and humble Prince Kunle (an untrained but highly cerebral and arduous “journalist”/ writer whose regular interventions catalyse my work) – wish you many more fruitful years in service to humanity!
Once again, happy birthday, Sir, from all of us in the media team, as we celebrate robustly and profoundly to the toast of your continued good health, prosperity and long life.
My own personal birthday wish to you is with the memorable words of Thomas Jefferson: “If you would have a happy life, remember two things: In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current.”
Mmiri riri enyi, it is well with you whether any envious tribe likes it or not!
- Wabara ([email protected] com/08055001948) is the media adviser to Dr. Orji Kalu.