The former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, is opening old wound. He is touching on the sensibilities of the people by daring to remind them of a past they have struggled to forget. In the last couple of days, Kalu, in his characteristic disdain, has been insulting the person of the liberator of Abia, the current governor, Theodore Orji, the great Ochendo. He has also commissioned his boy, one Ebere Wabara, to not only defame the character of Governor T. A. Orji, but to denigrate the personality of the well-meaning leaders and elders of the state. This is rudeness taken too far.
Truth is that Kalu’s name is today inscribed in the hall of infamy. His time and age in Abia have been swept into the dustbin of history. He is a fallen emperor who is still living in the self-delusion of a kind of self-importance. No amount of insult from Kalu and his commissioned agents against the person and personality of Governor Orji or his son, Ikuku, can diminish the towering profile of the governor. Reason is that Governor Orji’s achievements and reputation are well ahead of him. There comes in a century when God brings a leader that comes to provide a pathway for the people. Governor Orji is this agent of change.
Instead of his new-found preoccupation of throwing invectives on Governor Orji and using his boy to insult Ikuku, Kalu should rather embark on a self and critical post-mortem to understand the errors that led to his downfall. He should examine his life to know when and how he contravened natural justice. The 2011 elections for him was a strident demystification of a self-styled master strategist, the unmasking of the masquerade, and the humbling of the enfant terrible. Kalu did not only lose the election for the senatorial seat of the Abia North, his brother, Nnanna Kalu also lost his seat in the House of Representatives, and yet another brother who was the Chief of Staff to the governor also lost out in the power games that culminated in the liberation of the state from the stranglehold of their family’s political dynasty.
Today, Kalu is a dimming star who has descended into political limbo. In the days of his pomp and power, he had been celebrated as the quintessential political Maradona. And, indeed, he was. He deployed a combination of street intelligence, desperate manipulation, outright deceit and selective generosity to build a cult of loyalists and a fortress of power under the banner of the Progressive People Alliance (PPA). Confident that he has conquered the state and consolidated his regime, he then boasted that his structure would rule Abia for 50 years and that his daughter was going to be the youngest governor in Nigeria.
Thus, having conquered the state, he became the very personification of power. At the national level, he courted controversy as a way of gaining cheap popularity. This was benchmarked by his open confrontation with the then President Obasanjo whom he called names. Kalu’s popularity was later to soar when he took up the populist posture of a self-appointed advocate of Ndigbo. But, following from his pedigree of controversy and inconsistency, many discerning Igbos were not deceived. They were proven right when he suddenly somersaulted as his second term bid came under serious threat in 2003.
However, his demystification was essentially a gradual process which stated with the self-assertion of Governor Ohakim, who quickly extricated himself from the PPA fraternity and abandoned Kalu mid-way. Indeed, to everybody’s shock and bewilderment, the lesson of that incident did not crystallize on him, for before long, it became obvious that this self-acclaimed strategist was not even a good student of the history of power. In his illusion of being in control, he tried to humiliate a sitting chief executive of the state with his deputy. He dared to query a man who has power in his hand. This was the last straw that brought him to his ruins. It was a tragic error with consequences that have been terribly devastating than he had imagined.
From that moment, Governor Theodore Orji took the bull by the horns and orchestrated the liberation of Abia out of the captivity of the Kalu dynasty. Today, Kalu has been stripped naked at the market square. The once enfant terrible of Abia has been de-robed. All the simulations that created the Kalu mystique have been unveiled. He is today a loner, denigrated and deflowered. He is as lonely as an orphan, abandoned by even his greatest die-hard followers.
What is obvious is that Kalu is now coming to grips with the bitter lesson of the aphrodisiac of power. The self-acclaimed master strategist is now a wandering minstrel, with no political worth or value. His fate is the lamentable story of the classical tragic-hero. He should pause and re-examine his life to identify the critical point of departure and not to insult a man that God has used to bring succour to Abians.
For the entire state of Abia, it has been celebration and jubilation galore. For the eight years of his reign and the first three years of his successor, the master strategist held the state by the jugular. From the leadership of the Okada Riders Association, traditional rulers, market associations to every political appointment from local government councilors to even the aides of his successor, he held a suffocating grip on the state. Power started and ended at his doorstep.
His first casualties were the elite. He rubbished the elite by marginalizing and sidelining them out of power, and elevated commoners and miscreants as a way of insulting the intelligence of the well-meaning elite of the state. The strategy of the elevation of the commoners was to have a congregation of sheepish loyalists. These men were to forever deify him as their “maker”, and as the man who brought them out of the dark abyss of hopelessness to the daylight of hope.
In this mission, also, he deconstructed the entire Abia society, reduced the revered traditional institution into a calling for commoners and ridiculed even the political class. He balkanized many ancient kingdoms and appointed miscreants as traditional rulers for these new communities. In his own Igbere community, he created 21 communities out of a single community.
Thus, Abia inherited from Kalu, a burden of a societal anomie that resulted in the regime of crime with many youths taking to kidnapping and all manners of vices. He created Frankenstein monsters that later came to haunt the peace of the land. This is why, to Abians, his demystification amounts to liberation. It is a well-deserved end of a dark era and the dawn of a new society.
By: Godwin Adindu