AS you read this piece, former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, might be on his way to the home of another prominent monarch. In the last couple of weeks, he has embarked on cross-country visitations, preaching good governance, leadership and now Igbo integration.
From Ife where he visited the Ooni, through Owerri where he was guest to the Chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Ilonmuanya and Okigwe where he called at the home of the leader of MASSOB, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, it has been travel galore for the former governor who has been in hibernation for a while now.
He is making a ceremony out of the visitations. Yet, the cases await him in court. His track records run before him like an anxious forerunner.
Having kept mum and physically away from the globally celebrated funeral of Dim Emeka Ojukwu which lasted for over three months, people had conjectured that, perhaps, Kalu must have been sick or highly psychologically devastated in his self-inflicted confinement. It is uncharacteristic of him to keep away from such moments.
He looks for such great moments to shine. But, since after being banished to Siberia and forced into an untimely political menopause by the liberation forces led by the Ochendo of Abia, the ex-governor has been living like a recluse, cocooned in solitary confinement. He has been nursing his wounds with dignified silence.
Today, Kalu might be thinking that it is time to re-launch himself, to step out of his enclave. Like the ancient mystical phoenix, he has emerged from hibernation to take on a new life. And in this calculated mission of self re-invention, he has found a good strategy in the cross-country visitations. But, as he travels, there is a dark shadow trailing him.
There is a heavy load of moral burden hanging over him like the sword of Damocles. His preachments about leadership have ended as a self-directed sarcasm, a kind of self-mockery.
His clamour for Igbo integration or is it Igbo president is the same old gamji that climaxed with his speech at the palace of the monarch of Enugu Ukwu in Anambra State, entitled: “I am the Face of the New Igbo”, but which ended with the monumental “somersault” of 2003 when his second term bid was under threat.
The main irony or humour in the current moves by Kalu is that his case is still pending with the EFCC. He is being prosecuted for alleged abuse of office and embezzlement of public funds. Where the law is allowed to run its course, Kalu could be behind bars, serving long years of jail terms with hard labour.
Unlike his co-travellers who are facing trial by the EFCC, like the former governors of Adamawa State, Boni Haruna, Chimaraoke Nnamani of Enugu State, and Ahmed Tinubu, he is the only one with the effrontery and temerity of embarking on this open grandstanding. Others have chosen the honourable path of, at least, maintaining a dignified silence.
It would seem, by this gimmick, that Kalu is bereft of any sense of honour. How can somebody who threw Abia State backward for 12 agonising years have the moral guts to talk about leadership? How can somebody whose eight-year tenure as governor was characterised by recklessness have the peace to mention the word leadership?
The truth is that the Nigerian public is fully aware of Kalu’s antecedents and therefore cannot be deceived by the present tricks. But, the major blame goes to the EFCC which has slumbered on these cases and have, in the circumstance, given the room for this insult on our sensibilities as a nation.
As a reminder, Kalu’s trajectory in the political corridors of Abia State remains the worst tragedy that befell Abia people. It was an ugly throwback to the gains humanity has made through the ages. Today, his successor, Governor Theodore Orji has organised the house scattered by him.
Governor Orji has struggled to bring decorum to the State after those locust years of Kalu. During his eight-year reign, Kalu elevated recklessness into statecraft. Within this period, he expended three deputy governors, 262 commissioners and countless number of transitional chairmen. Everything was a game.
The ‘wonder roads’ he brought Obasanjo, Atiku, N’Abba and other personalities to commission in Aba could not last one year. He could not bring in one crane to construct a single outstanding public building in Abia State.
He rather introduced a new lexicon to the political dictionary of Nigeria known as mamacracy. It was a system where his deputy, Speaker of the House of Assembly, traditional rulers, commissioners, permanent secretaries and anybody of worth must take instruction from his mother.
This way, he humiliated and dehumanised respectable elders, stakeholders and even men of God all of whom must go and ‘see’ his mother before they could do any meaningful business with government. From his mother’s enclave at Nweke Street in Aba, Kalu ran the State.
Abians and indeed, the whole world are not in a hurry to forget his reign of terror orchestrated by his special terror group known as Bakassi, a murderous outfit that killed and maimed countless souls extra-judicially for mostly political reasons.
The highpoint of the activities of this group came when 40 people died after being locked up overnight in an abandoned shipping container in Aba. For this case, his Chief Security Officer was detained at Kuje prisons.
This is just a little of the history that Kalu has in his kitty as he embarks on his cross-country visitations. It is obvious he is merely trying to clean up by association. He is trying to pull the wool through the eyes of discerning publics.
He seems to think that Nigerians are caught by a collective amnesia as to have suddenly forgotten his spiral ring of controversies and all the notorieties associated with him
EFCC should therefore accelerate the case on Kalu and save us from this grievous insult on our sensibilities.
Mr. By GODWIN ADINDU, a social critic, wrote from tAbia State.