Why Is Orji Uzor Kalu Struggling For Relevance In A State He Ruled For 8 Years? By Dodoh Okafor



1. It was brought to my attention recently that in 2015, Orji Kalu had approached a governorship aspirant in Abia state with an offer of support- cash and logistics. The governorship candidate was said to have demurred and politely told the former governor that he was running a campaign that promises a radical departure from the past.

2. The candidate appreciated Orji for his interest but asked him to stay away from his campaign. This man- like many in the state today- consider Kalu to be a huge political liability.

3. This is a cataclysmic change in fortune when one considers that for 11 long years, Kalu was the supremo, the headman of Abia politics- eight years as a governor himself and 3 years as the controller in chief of a successor he single-handedly picked.

4. At the beginning of the 4th Republic, Kalu was seen in several quarters as one of the rising stars of the Nigerian political system, he had a voice many respected and was not shy to take a position on national issues.

5. He was one of the lead actors that frustrated General Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term ambition, aligning forces with other strong men of the day like Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu and several others to torpedo a blatant attempt to manipulate the constitution in favour of one self-seeking individual.

6. Kalu would go on to register his own political party to compete in the 2007 general election. Perhaps to his own surprise, the new party PPA (Progressive Peoples Alliance) won the governorship election in Abia and Imo states.

7. Kalu had two state governors answering to him as their party leader, he also had so many of his men in state houses of assembly, the House of Representatives and the senate- Late Uche Chukwumerije was a PPA member.

8. Orji Kalu for the eight years he ruled as governor had a firm grip on the state’s socio-political space. He was in total control of the structures of the ruling parties- APC and PDP, he appointed heads of ministries and agencies, heads of tertiary institutions and as some said- had a firm grip of the goings on in the state civil service.

9. Orji Kalu achieved fame at a very young age, made money (however controversial) and had the world at his feet before he was 50 years of age.

10. He was destined to conquer new territories after handing over as governor in 2007, Nigerians expected much from him despite his several shortcomings.

11. It is indeed surprising that rather than make the upward swing many of us had expected having installed two of his men as governors in two different states, Kalu today is fighting tooth and nail to get attention through unbefitting political theatrics and childish stunts.

12. A lot of factors are at the root of Orji Kalu’s unravelling. First the revelation that he resorted to demonic tools and means to extract the loyalty of his appointees dealt a heavy blow to his profile.

13. The picture of Orji Kalu and Theodore Orji in a shrine where series of satanic oaths were administered on the would-be governor (Theodore Orji) as published by a leading magazine –TELL- dealt a huge blow to Orji Kalu’s image and person.

14. Then it emerged that he was having a suffocating influence on his successor, Theodore Orji, allowing the man no breathing space. The realization that Mr Theodore Orji had to pass every important decision- including appointment of aides and senior advisors- through Mr Kalu angered so many Abains.

15. Abians were enraged when documents began to emerge detailing how Kalu looted and stole the state blind in his term as governor. Images of Kalu being escorted to trial courts by EFCC operatives shortly after handing over in 2007 was a serious PR damage for the charming ex-governor.

16. More devastating to Kalu’s brand and person was Theodore Orji’s decision in 2010 to assert himself as governor. He weaved unpleasant tales and chronicle of the Kalu’s era and promised Abians liberation.

17. The nature of that “liberation” would be looked into some other time. But Theodore Orji, Kalu’s right hand man, chief of staff for eight years and anointed successor told Ndi Abia that Orji Kalu had kept the state in bondage and if progress must be made, he must be supported to “liberate” our people.

18. The nail was placed on Kalu’s political “coffin” when his former aides and associates began to jump forward to corroborate Mr Theodore Orji’s stories.

19. Abians were regaled with tales of midnight trips to shrines within and outside Abia state, the less known happenings at 29 Nweke Street Aba (the Mecca of Abia politics at the time) was brought to the fore, we were told of various categories of oath-taking and dehumanizing rituals administered on politicians and businessmen who approached OUK or the mother for favour.

20. Traditional rulers who sang Kalu’s praise only a few years earlier began to isolate him, churches kept their distance while groups that had hitherto aligned themselves to Orji Kalu’s political interests quickly transferred their loyalty to the “liberator.”

21. Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi, Sam Egwu were Orji Kalu’s political and governorship contemporaries. Today, these men are still important to the heartbeat of their states, enjoying large-scale support from millions of people, playing on the national stage and playing political pundits on national TV.

22. Why has Orji Kalu been reduced to a man fighting for relevance in his senatorial district, in his state and at the federal level?

23. Beyond his abandonment by his former associates, Orji Kalu failed to make the most of the golden opportunity presented him by some benevolent spirits. He had every opportunity to stamp his name in gold in the Abia state and Nigeria political circle. He blew it all away.

24. Kalu was deceitful. Propaganda hardly goes far, you will always be exposed and called out in the long run. While roads and public infrastructure built by Sam Mbakwe in the 80s are still functional today, roads built by Orji Kalu twelve years ago have all been washed away by the rain.

25. When you fail to create lasting values but elect to play to the gallery, eventually the public would see through your game and disdain you for playing on their emotions. That is the story of Orji Kalu today.


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