By Fortune Archibong
Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Abia State, incumbent senator representing Abia North Senatorial District and chief whip of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,is a nebulous politician. Nebulous politicians could hardly be defined, unpredictable and mostly misunderstood. Whereas he had hit fortunes quite early in life when he was the chairman of Commerce Bank in his early twenties, he nearly became a governor during the botched transition programme of the late General Sanni Abacha era and finally clinched it at the dawn of democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999 and served for two terms.
Let me reserve the dossiers on Orji Uzor Kalu for another day and hinge on his current romance with the Senate president, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan of Yobe State; until where it is absolutely necessary to refer to it. Suffice it to say that Senator Kalu is a fine politician whose business acumen has driven his political odysseys to where fortunes could be struck from the worst of mess. He started with a turbulent journey into the red chambers of the National Assembly which he earlier lost, he nearly lost the mandate he is currently enjoying, and upon his final victory into the Senate, he miraculously became the chief whip of Senate. As one of the founders if not the financiers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it started in 1998, especially his rumoured donation of N100 million naira to aid the political cum personal “rehabilitation” of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo from prison in 1998 to the Presidency in 1999, his political skills ensured his attainment of a pole position and relevance in the All Progressives Congress (APC) he defected to.
He has proven a cat with nine lives for his “over miraculous” release from prison where he was sentenced for several years on account of corruption charges while he served as governor of Abia State. The judiciary reversed itself and acquitted him of an earlier prison sentence and he returned to his seat in Senate as the chief whip to the chagrin of hapless Nigerians who had concluded his fate in life and politics.
The burgeoning relationship of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu with the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan, is still the subject of bewilderment and its implication to the avowed political principles which Orji Kalu was known for. Nigerians, especially those from the south east geopolitical zone, had high hopes on the possible aspiration of Orji Kalu as the expected President of Nigeria from the Igbo extraction in 2023 only to be massively disappointed by the recent overtures of the Senate chief whip to the presidential moves of the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan. Many are confused to what must have transpired in the few months of Orji Kalu’s confinement in prison and suspected that he might have been brainwashed to abandon the fight, struggles and agitation for Igbo Presidency. He may have been dangled a cannot to decline the Igbo presidency to the power that-be to secure his release from the prison. Or, was he given the office of the Senate chief whip as a bait to kill his desire to be an Igbo President come 2023. Also, on a personal note, as Senator Lawanis known to have schooled in University of Maiduguri where Orji Kalu also was a student for a period before abandoning it under circumstances this write-up is not in the mood to unravel; hispaths may had crossed with that of Lawan, hence the renewed friendship in the politics of Senate and 2023 Presidency.
It therefore appears that at the release of Orji Kalu from prison, he had buried the known Igbo patriotism for survival politics especially as no one joined him to face the prison incarceration except himself, and must have come out a reformed player of political individualism and not the Igbo socialism, which he was a known advocate. Senator Kalu had professed openly his support for a northern presidential candidate in the person of Senator Ahmed Lawan even when the South did everything in conjunction with northern All Progressive Congress (APC) governors to forge power shift to the South in Nigeria. In fact, it is alleged that Orji Kalu was one of the forces behind the purported announcement of Senator Ahmed Lawan by the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdllahi Adamu, as the consensus cum “anointed” candidate of the party and presidential candidate for the 2023 presidential elections, until the President later denied.
The open political friendship of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu with the Senate president appears as a political anathema to the socio-political cause of the South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Had the Ahmed Lawan presidential flagbearer project succeeded and Senator Orji Kalu assumed his role as the campaign director-general as envisaged, that would have signalled the cul-de-sac of the Igbo presidency in Nigeria. No Igbo man would have been taken as a serious presidential contender and would have beenseen as a clan of cash and carry politicians who can only bark earlier and later cow into submission when wads of cash are exchanged. If one would erroneously regard the Kalu style of politics as an act of national integration and response to the ONE NIGERIA mantra, closer investigation would sift the motives behind his political escapades as a yeoman survival politics of self-aggrandisement. While the Ebonyi State governor, Mr Dave Umahi, is crying for the unity of Ndigbo to forge an alliance to successfully persecute the Igbo presidency project in Nigeria, the likes of Senator Orji Kalu take delight in political sabotage,servitude and other ignoble roles to frustrate the political causes of their own people.
One had expected the chief whip to use the rich Hausa in his language faculty to woo his northern friends, classmates, business associates to support the Igbo cause; in fact, his romance with the former President Ibrahim Babangida is limited to his family and benefit especially as he keeps his imperialmother who is too powerful for him to ignore her directives. His tenure as Abia governor was said to be a government run by the dictates of his mother which Abians described as “mamacracy”.
Senator Orji Kalu is not alone in the voyage of individualistic politics against the political collectivism of the Igbo cause. Another case is that of the Governor of Imo State, former Senator Hope Uzodimma. Uzodimma is alleged to have pledged heaven and earth to some northern political masters at the detriment of the Igbo cause. It is said that from “Fulanisation”, Rural Grazing project for herdsmen and other religious affinities, Governor Uzodimma is alleged to have consented to strange and “ungodly” demands to further his personal political interests against his people. It would have since graduated beyond the present situation if the likes of the late chief of staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, had lived. He would have used the likes of Hope Uzodimma, Orji Uzor Kalu, Dave Umahi, Rochas Okorocha and other spineless Igbos to wreak havoc on the commonwealth and interest of the Igbo race to advance their selfish political conglomerates in the Nigerian polity.
The capitalist and cosmopolitan nature of Nigeria may have contributed to the individualistic politics of some Igbo politicians which has rendered the Igbo presidency project into a tall pipe dream. For a people with investments scattered all over Nigeria; most of them believe in the survival of their private investments than the Nigerian Presidency. This might have caused the failure of their late pointman, the late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu and his Biafran project. Until most Igbo politicians learn to choose nationalistic political friends beyond the Lawans of this world who aspired for the Presidency regardless of northern governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) resolutions for southern presidential candidate; the zone would only produce political bootlickers for northern political masters and leave the zone in quandary.