Date Published: 06/10/11
Orji Kalu: The end of a Political Dynasty by Alaribe Ugochukwu, Aba
Former governor of Abia State and chairman Board of Trustee of the Progressive people’s Alliance (PPA) is seen as a successful man in his business and political endeavors. Since he parted ways over irreconcilable differences with his godson, Gov. Theodore orji, whom he installed at the Abia seat of power, Kalu has suffered from one political misfortune to the other.
First, the defection of the Gov.Orji from the PPA to the PDP meant loss of patronage. Source who were close to both Kalu and Gov. Orji, revealed that, from may 29,2007 to July 2010 when they parted ways, Kalu and his mother Eunice, were the “Alpha and Omega” as every decision started and ended with them, with the Governor surrendering to their whims and caprices. It was a case of grab whatever you can while the spree lasted.
Kalu was said to be in charge of “things” at the State level while the mother, popularly known as “Odiuko” ran the 17 Locals and appointed her stooges. The system accounted for some social misfits managing the affairs of the councils as chairmen. On appointment of commissioners, special advisers and assistants, the Kalus were reported to have always insisted on taking the lion share, most times, leaving a slot or two for the state chief executive to fill. Other members of the Kalu family were not left out as Nnanna uzor kalu, a two term member of the House of Representatives used his Classic Front International Club as a clearing house where prospective office seekers were “screened” and made to pay heavily Membership of the club cut across state Assembly members, commissioners and other political appointments. With the family loss of power, sources, hint, the club had cease to exist as it is now a political sin in Abia State to associate with the Orji Kalu family
As a result of this, kalu’s famed political prowess had steadily being on the decline. In quick succession, his party, the PPA lost two states to the PDP as his godsons, Gov Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State and Abia Governor, Theodore Orji left the PPA platform. Investigation revealed that the duo would not have left at the time they did but for Kalu’s meddlesomeness.
In the just concluded general elections, PPA ran for various positions in Abia state. In the race for the Abia North senatorial district which is clearly the most politically sophisticated zone in the state, it was a test for the much touted political wizardry of kalu. Across the 5 local councils that make up the zone – Arochukwu, Bende, Isikuwato, Ohafia and Umunneochi, it was taken as a communal project to diminish the famed political strength of the Bende born maverick. On Several occasions, his campaign train became a subject of controversy as his hosts were divided on whether to allow him into their town or not. Even in his home council, Bende, all known political leaders who benefited from him, abandoned his camp for that of the state governor as he could only polls 34, 188 votes, a far cry from senator Uche Chukeumerile’s 83,206 votes.
In all the 3 senatorial zones, 8 house of representatives seats and 24 Assembly seats in the state, kalu’s PPA failed to secure a seat, even in his own state constituency, Bende North, where his arch rival, Chief John Orji Lekwauwa who held sway as a third term lawmaker since 1999, has now handed over the baton to Ndukwe Ojukwu, scion of late senator simeon Ojukwu.
The result of the general elections was a bitter lesson for Kalu and his party as the PPA maintained a distant third position in most constituencies of the state. For instance, in Abia south, PDP’s Enyinnaya Abaribe won with 90, 773 votes to 12,430 votes scored by Simeon Eme of the PPA. In the same vein, Chief Uzo Azubuike of PDP polled 21,787 votes to humiliate the incumbent, Hon. Nnanna Uzor kalu, younger brother of Orji Uzor Kalu, who scored 4,459 votes for Aba federal constituency seat. In Umuahia/Ikwuano federal constituency, the PPA’s flag bearer , Nnaemeka Odunze also lost to a debutant, Oluchi, Ibeji, a Lagos based lawyer.
In the present circumstances, it looks like the PPA is dying a natural death as the party did not fare better in the governorship poll. A PPA source who confided in Newspoint hinted that Chris Akomas, the candidate of the party was almost close to tears as he was giving out a paltry N100.000 each as mobilization fund to state Assembly candidates of the party. The source also confirmed an earlier information that, until the day preceding the Polls, Akomas was still waiting for the mobilization funds that his godfather, Orji Uzor Kalu promised to dole out to him for the elections. Few days to the April 26 polls, many Chieftains of the PPA across the State were reported to have defected to the PDP. A keen observer of the situation who confided to our correspondent alleged that Kalu’s greatest problems were his greed and inability to keep to promises.
“Orji kalu cannot change and that is why Abians are not happy. Nobody wants to hear the name, “PPA”, in Abia. He and his mother were consumed by greed and they have paid dearly for it”
Indeed, the non acceptability of the PPA effectively worked against most the party’s flag bearers who were seen as “saleable candidates” and even paraded better credentia. It was evident that their personality and promises could not sway the Abia electorate. To the average electorate, candidates like Akomas, Solomon Akpulonu, Chibuike Jonas and their likes were good but the platform on which they contested was faulty as the people saw PPA as a party for mother and child.
The poser now is, will the Orji Kalu political dynasty continue to dwindle or rise again? Only time will tell but the truth remains that the men who made him thick in hey days like Emma Omokwe, Iboko Imo Iboko, Allen Nwachukwu, Stanley Ohajuruka, Uzo Azubuike, Christopher Enweremadu, Anthony Agbazuere and the others have all abandoned him and may not be back soon.