I really admire this guy’s guts, hate him or love him but the very ambitious Dr Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK for short), the executive governor of Abia state does have a way of affecting your sensibilities; he simply wears on you, or rather creeps under your skin with his antics.
In the days when every other governor was sucking up to the resident tenant at Aso rock to ensure their political survival, OUK it was who fired a poisonous salvo and threw missiles at President Obasanjo (OBJ) culminating in the now infamous interview with Omoyele Sowore in which OUK accused OBJ of corruption and called him a killer in addition to other unsavoury names. Obasanjo in turn retaliated and hit back where it hurts, he revoked the operating license of SLOK airlines, one of the companies belonging to OUK.
Before the father-son relationship between OUK and OBJ turned sour, the president had during a visit to Abia state nicknamed OUK the action governor, but that was then, when OUK used a the-more-you-look-the-less-you-see trickery on Abia indigenes. He had tried to tag on former governor Dee Sam Mbakwe’s coat tails of road construction, but unlike Mbakwe who used Monier Construction Company (MCC) and Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) for most of his road constructions, OUK opted for Elite Construction, a fly-by-night outfit belonging to him. Elite quickly rented moribund bulldozers which it positioned in strategic locations in the state thus creating the impression of work-in-progress. In the few roads that were eventually built, only below-par materials were used and the results became evident only after a few months, the famous Abia rains flushed away the substandard road surfacing along with any hopes Abia residents had of redemption but by that time OUK had already secured another 4-year term.
Worse hit is Aba; the commercial city of Abia state which eventually became the rubbish city of Nigeria. The indigenes wallowed in filth by day and dodged armed robbers’ bullets by night leading to a situation that many people including Eziuche Ubani, the This Day columnist described as a meltdown in his Friday back page column. And what did their governor do? OUK ‘abdicated’ his duties as the Chief Security Officer of the state and chose instead to write to his arch enemy (OBJ) for help. Aso Rock laughed, the people watched in bewilderment while many others succumbed to the hopelessness of their situation.
OUK and OBJ’s love hate relationship continued; perhaps with the intention of teaching the younger OUK a lesson, OBJ set the EFCC after him and his mother, Mrs Eunice Kalu whom the governor had elevated to the status of Mother Excellency, the title she bore until her sudden disappearance from the scene having previously gone into hiding from the EFCC.
But the questions still is; what makes this young man of my generation thick? For sure we can not fault him for lacking brevity and courage, in fact he has those in plenty but his undoing may lie in the fact that he only applies such cherished virtues when it concerns only his personal interests, else having risen to power he wouldn’t have reneged on his promise to Abia people, especially Aba indigenes. As an Aba boy or Aba Brought Up (ABU) as we are wont to call those of us born in the Enyimba city, he did not deliver and would be leaving Aba worse than he met it. We should have been campaigning for him but we are not and that is indeed a shame. He has not given us enough to work on, we trusted him with the little (Abia state government treasury) and he disappointed, how then can we trust him with the national treasury?
It is such a pity that the story of this Igbere man whose rise to riches, fame and political prominence should have inspired millions of other youths in Nigeria to greatness and even spurning off Nollywood films, but instead it has become a mocking example of what might have been.
As the presidential candidate of the PPA, a paperweight political party by every standard, one need not look into the crystal balls to see that both the party and their presidential candidate are not going anywhere in the May 2007 presidential elections, but such embarrassments will not be new to OUK, a man that rose to national prominence in 1985 when he allegedly donated the sum of 500,000 naira at the University of Maiduguri fund raising event but who ‘made good’ his promise by sending instead cardboard boxes stuffed with used newspapers, when confronted later, OUK exonerated himself from the debacle and claimed that the boxes were tampered by his messengers.
What should be OUK’s fate after 2007? He must have worked it out by now, one way or the other, heads or tails he would still win. He has been busy building bridges in the north and we thought he was stupid all along. He has cushioned a soft landing for himself because with power predicted to be going back to the North in May 2007 by soothsayers, and with OUK having been widely acknowledged for reconciling Ibrahim Babangida and Muhammadu Buhari, one could see that OUK will be safe and sound should the Northern Oligarchs have their way again in May. We should not be surprised if OUK is found lurking around the corridors of power in an unofficial capacity post – OBJ. Of course there is always his SLOK business empire to rebuild, many of which have suffered and benefited from his 8 year stay at government house Umuahia.
We will still expect OUK to eventually come round to telling us what went wrong with the dream, what ever happened to the promise of making Aba the Taiwan of Africa? Not that we would have cherished such an accolade since Taiwan’s days as an economic and commercial hub has waned, but still we may not have minded, didn’t our elders say that half bread is better than none at all. Also he may need to convene all the industrialists and budding entrepreneurs in Aba who have since relocated to other towns and tell them why the factories in Abia state decreased in numbers under his watch. Such promise, such waste!
Those that will write OUK’s legacy including Ohaneze Ndigbo surely would wish to include his love for sports and support for Enyimba FC as some of his achievements which is all good. Looking closely, perhaps the failed attempts at player transfer in the international market may weaken any arguments of good intentions on his part.
So what happens next in Abia state? Ngwa people may argue that it is their turn to produce the next governor, a struggle that has consumed their son Dr Chima Nwafor, OUK’s late embattled deputy. They had hoped that Chief Chuku Wachuku, an Ngwa man would fulfil that yearning. Only time will tell but perhaps that may still remain a dream, not with the likes of Aso Rock – anointed Onyema Ugochukwu seriously warming up to step into OUK’s small-sized shoes.
As per OUK, Abia people would be wishing that his era blows away so quickly, like the proverbial ill wind.