Orji Uzor Kalu, 'Mmadu Oha Nile', MON!

by SOC Okenwa

Orji Uzor Kalu, the immediate past Governor of Abia State and Publisher of “The Sun” newspaper is a controversial politician and businessman who seems to court and enjoy controversy as it comes his way every now and then. Even before getting himself elected as Governor of the “God’s Own State” OUK (as he prefers to call himself) has had a public life that has positive and negative connotations. Positivism in the area of his ambitions and goals and negativism in the area of morality lapses and character-less background.

It is a great tribute indeed that an Igbere-born barely-educated youngster could navigate through Nigeria’s shark-infested waters of corporate world from a humble beginning to become today a billionaire with chains of companies in Nigeria and abroad. Kalu had made it before becoming Governor of Abia State in eastern Nigeria but his long road to the top was marred by allegation of dirty deals and even fraudulent conducts one of which was said to have taken place in Maiduguri Borno State where he allegedly donated a carton-ful of fake bundles of naira notes in a fund-raising event!

Much after he took over power in Umuahia (after the swearing-in ceremony in 1999) Orji Kalu was exclusively interviewed by “Tell” magazine and the interview provided a lot of insight into the world-view of this political animal in his enigmatic excellence. Asked to respond to allegations of his modest academic acquisitions and fraudulent past OUK launched into a staccato of verbal grammatical somersault. The “Tell” reporter who did the interview reported how OUK almost ‘murdered’ the Queens language while trying to play a grammarian.

As “action” Governor Kalu used his first term in office to mobilise Abians for a huge developmental tasks ahead. He set in motion mechanisms geared towards improving the lot of the masses from Umuahia to Aba, to other towns and villages in the hinterland. He performed above average as people applauded him for his sense of mission and leadership qualities. And when he won a re-election his opponents and critics accused him of using his first term (full of achievements) smartly to prepare for his re-election.

From 2003 when he got re-elected for a second terminal term OUK became inactive almost abandoning the vigour with which his first term was characterised. Cities like Aba were overtaken by garbage as Kalu prepared himself for higher federal office. When it dawned on him that the former President Obasanjo was not prepared to cede power as the constitution stipulates Orji Kalu took an opposing position declaring openly that there must be vacancy in Aso Rock come May 2007 and saying a loud NO to third term.

For this principled stand Kalu was marked out by the Obasanjo tenure elongation machinery as enemy number one whose political and economic fortunes must be given a deadly blow. Seeing danger of a political eclipse from the PDP Kalu dumped the party and created his political party, the Progressive People’s Alliance, PPA, with which to negotiate for power and guarantee of political future. PPA, during the last general elections, infamous April 2007, bungled by Maurice Iwu and OBJ, won Abia and Imo states with Kalu failing predictably to clinch the presidency which he sought.

Even out of office since May 2007 Kalu has been in the news for wrong or right reasons. Few months after guber immunity he had enjoyed for eight years elapsed the Ribadu-led EFCC cornered Kalu and three other ex-Governors and charged them to court for corrupt enrichment and looting of state treasuries. Kalu and his colleagues which included Jigawa’s Sumaila Turaki, Taraba’s Jolly Nyame and Plateau’s Joshua Dariye spent weeks in prison as they awaited bail. Among those ‘big men’ caught and caged Kalu was the most vibrant in detention consoling those shedding tears and playing table tennis. Kalu blamed Obasanjo for his travails as the Ota business tycoon blamed him also for his incest blues.

Orji Uzor Kalu has since argued that left for him Olusegun Obasanjo should be made to go back to prison to continue a second term of imprisonment for his many crimes against the Nigerian state and Nigerians. Rtd Gen. Danjuma has corroborated OUK saying in addition however that OBJ should be sent to prisons in far north where “the mosquitoes are far bigger and more entrenched”!

Just last week monday “ThisDay” newspaper in Lagos reported what Abia Elders’ Forum had called a “challenge” thrown at Kalu. Kalu writes a weekly column in a national daily titled “Leadership Series”. Kalu, it is said, graduated from the Abia State University in a degree-awarding programme he did while still in office. He can of course express himself very well. He’s not publicity shy being the proprietor of the highest-selling tabloid “The Sun”.

The former Governor was challenged to a televised spelling contest with a promise by the pressure group to pay him N100,000 for every word he spelt correctly and another N100,000 for the one he knew the meaning! In a statement signed by one Uchenna Kalu, the Forum accused Kalu of masquerading himself as an intellectual when in reality he’s “anti-intellectual”. The statement read in part: “It is ironic that it is Orji Kalu’s latest gimmickry of being a newspaper columnist which has awakened interest in his character, or indeed lack of it. The column stunt is, of course, part of his anti-intellectualism, which delights in deriding scholarship, whenever he can. The reasoning here is to show that there’s nothing special about the writing of columns: Anyone can do it”.

And continuing in a deliberate attempt to cut Kalu to size the Elders’ Forum declared: “is not the writer of the so-called column, to which he appends his name. We know who the ghost-writers are; some of them [are] doubling as Kalu’s attack dogs. We in the Abia Elders Forum challenge him to a simple test: If he can spell five words, chosen randomly from each of two of his columns, and give their meanings correctly, we shall give him N1million. That works out at N100,000.00 per word, and ought to be attractive enough to even a self-proclaimed ‘billionaire’.”.

And to show its readiness for the televised debate the Elders’ Forum told Kalu point-blank: “If you are ready, we shall pay the amount to any appropriate account nominated. We are sure that the whole world will soon see that Orji Kalu cannot even spell, not to mention giving the correct meanings of word taken from a column which he pretends to have written”.

And moving away from the spelling contest the Abia Elders’ Forum accused Kalu of appropriating a national honour “MON” to himself. The statement read further: “As everyone knows, Orji Kalu appropriated the National Honour of ‘Member of the Order of the Niger, MON’. The MON was added to his official photograph from 1999, and is still there. In his first term, 1999-2003, his name could not be announced without the mention of the MON.

“Then in 2003, it was discovered that Orji Uzor Kalu was never awarded any national honour by anyone. He had simply taken the honour. When confronted with the criminal app

ropriation of a National Honour, he turned around and claimed that his own MON was not a National Honour, but was derived from an Igbochieftaincy title of “Mmadu Oha Nile”, meaning “man of the people”. He never said who gave the title and when it was given. He has continued to parade himself as an MON”

Dr Orji Uzor Kalu is of course an intelligent man with a complex pedigree. He has successfully weathered many storms on his way to the top. Whether he had dismissed the recent challenge from the Elders’ Forum as a rant of rabid opponents or taken up the challenge to shame his critics is not yet known. But one thing is sure: OUK is a survivalist! Whether his ‘MON’ means ‘Member of the Order of the Niger‘ or “Mmadu Oha Nile” is inconsequential. All hail OUK, MON!

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Chi Chi, Us April 15, 2009 - 1:25 pm

What did the ex-Governor improve in Abia State? My deduction of this article is that you threw in praises in this article out of fear. If you were really, really left to write what you feel, you will see that Orji Uzo left Abia State in a state of emergency – There is no security in Abia State, legacy of Orji Uzo, There are now many armed killers and robbers in Abia State, legacy of Orji Uzo, Kidnappers abound, legacy of Orji Uzo, No drinking water as used to be, legacy of Orji Uzo, Electricity is a forgotten issue, legacy of Orji Uzo. Aba Port Harcourt Road – a death trap legacy of Orji Uzo. Umuahia a was peaceful city prior to Orji Uzo Kalu, but now is a killer zone and 419, legacy of Orji Uzo. Many achievements?, please give me a break. Go to villages of people who did not agree with him, see how they are living, then come and tell me of his many achievements. Many people are worst off after Orji Uzo. I just hope T Orji, though a crony of Orji Uzo, will leave a better legacy. One can only hope. You almost got it right.

Chux March 11, 2008 - 6:24 am

Quite frankly, I thought your article had salt until I got to ‘all hail OUK, MON’. I wonder why someone who’d write an ulmost flawless piece would close on a very very low note of hailing for orji uzo kalu even after you had ‘enumerated’ his shaddiness. We should not praise those who would do things the way orji uzo kalu and his likes would. Our disgust should know no bounds.


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