|Fmr. Gov. Kalu (L) and Gov. Orji|
By Olaniyi Olanike
In two separate series, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu who was former Governor of Abia State, published an essay titled, “My stewardship as Abia governor (1999-2007)”. It was published in The Sun editions of September 13, 2014 and 20, 2014. What has lured me to join my voice in the lucid expository treatises of the dude is that till this moment he published the article, some persons who had been deafening our ears with blackmails and vilifications of Kalu’s personality have all covered their faces in shame.
No one has ever said or written ‘pim’ in contradiction, thereby putting all the rofo-rofo against the Igbere-born multi-millionaire as beer parlour discussions that have no basis against Kalu. Many of us knew that Kalu was not corrupt and will never be corrupt. He was only ‘corrupt’ in the measurement of those who want him dead in Abia State, he was only ‘corrupt’ in the myopic stance of the government in Abia State, he is not corrupt in the eye of the law, he is not corrupt in the equation of Nigerians, he is an innocent man and a genuine personality who goes about his normal business without rancour, but in accordance with the laws governing the countries where his conglomerates of businesses are situated.
Kalu has told the world in the series and before that anyone with an evident that he pilfered any public funds should come forward, but none. Hence, all the noise by traducers in respect to this is today taken as a mere rumour, brickbat and wicked. No one is coming forward with genuine evident, but gossip and blackmail. So, Kalu is innocent of all the rumours of corruption and nuisance that we have been deafened with.
A clear conscience, they say, fears no accusation. Kalu has cleared the air. I must say that the propaganda that has cited the public in thinking that Kalu is corrupt was the make-believe stories that have always come from the government in Abia State against Kalu. This government has taken to blackmailing Kalu as one of its tools to blacklist oppositions. But at a point, the same government that has been blacklisting Kalu today is the one that is being led by Chief Theodore Orji, (his Chief of Staff then), a man whom at a point, Kalu said that nothing mattered to him, than to seeing that he was released from the prison.
And it came to pass, against the thinking of those who were against the government in Abia State from 1999-2007, who wanted the present governor to be in the prison until the date for his inauguration was over. Maybe, the ‘corrupt’ that this government is saying that Kalu is, was that he personally chartered a flight to take Chief T.A Orji from Lagos to Umuahia to prepare his inauguration – a few days away – when it was obvious to Kalu through information on his table that a man he has expended his wealth and energy to campaign for the election he won, was to be re-arrested after he was released from prison.
Kalu did not dump Orji who was so dear to him in the plane; he accompanied him on the flight from Lagos, where Orji was released from prison to Owerri, where Kalu had thought that Orji was safe. Kalu returned to Lagos the same day. When he returned to Lagos, he declared that the release of Orji from prison was the happiest day in his life. So, where did Kalu go wrong against Orji that the latter’s government continue to persecute him unjustly to the extent of blackmailing him left and right without an iota of retrospection that the governor was a member of the political ‘building’ that Kalu once built?
It is evident that Kalu has nothing against the governor because he has said it time without number that he gives God the glory that everything went well as was in his mind when Orji was released from the prison and that Theodore Orji sits atop the affairs of Abia State as governor. I’m not sure if those calling Kalu names regarding his stewardship as governor have read him thus: “Let me quickly state at this juncture, that on assumption of office on May 29, 1999, Abia State was something in the neighbourhood of a pariah state – infrastructure was non-existent, workers’ morale was down, because of two-month unpaid salaries, with pensions and gratuities of retired workers running into several years in arrears.
“Added to this bag of liabilities we inherited an N8 billion debt accumulated by past regimes, comprising arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities, contractual obligations and other matters relating to the administration of government. The foreign debt portfolio we inherited was 680 million United States dollars. The loan was secured during the NPP/NPN era for the building of Enyimba Hotel and Glass Industry – both in Aba, Ogwe Chicken Farm in Ukwa, and Metallurgical factory at Olokoro.
“Curiously, we were made to pay up the loan by then President Olusegun Obasanjo before the end of our administration. The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is there to confirm the veracity of this statement. Again, it is good to place it on record that our state’s share from the federation account reached the N1 billion mark for the first time in November 2004. After that it oscillated between N1.2 and N1.6 billion. It never at any time hit the N2billion mark. Despite the paucity of funds, we were still able to meet our statutory and contractual obligations.”
Upon the glaring truth above, Kalu’s detractors continue to circulate misleading essays against him, as if he did not do anything for Abia State when he was governor. But this is a man whose administration inherited hundreds of communities that had no electricity and pipe-borne water, school buildings were dilapidated and abandoned; facilities in existing health facilities were insufficient, while those available had no operable staff and equipment. The State Teaching Hospital was like a cottage hospital, not to talk of the palpable state of fear among the citizens of the state, occasioned by frightening rates of crimes. His government fought assiduously in making sure that dividends of democracy were extended to all the nooks and crannies of the state without divisions, unlike the divisions we can experience under the present government.
(Olaniyi Olanike wrote from Umuahia.)