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The demystification of the master strategist

THIS is a post-mortem. The 2011 election have come and gone, but it will go down in our lore as one election in which the fabled ‘masquerades” of the Nigerian politics were thoroughly demystified.

Among other things, one remarkable factor of the election is the demystification of these demi-gods who had bestridden the country’s political firmament like a colossus.

For former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, particularly, it is the demystification of a self-styled master strategist, the unmasking of the masquerade, and the humbling of the enfant terrible.

From the almost two-third  of the Senate members who would not return to the upper house of the National Assembly to key figures like Dimeji Bankole and Iyabo Obasanjo, it has been a deconstruction of the face of power in Nigeria.

Particularly, the greatest victim of this twist of fate seems to be the celebrated, self-acclaimed master strategist himself.

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 another of his 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, gradually descending into limbo.  In the days of his pomp and power, he had been celebrated as the quintessential political Maradona. Two popular journalists and authors were part of the band of eulogists.

Drawing from his schemes and his craft of manipulation, in a widely serialized biography, they designated him the “Master Strategist”.  And, indeed, he was. Kalu 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 Peoples 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.

But, the assumed mystique around the man came to its height in 2007, when, against all the weapons unleashed by the Federal Government against him and his fraternity, he led Governor Theodore Orji from prison to power. He doubled his crown with the emergence of Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State under the banner of the PPA.  But all these are now history.

However, his demystification was essentially a gradual process, which started 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. This was the last straw that brought Kalu 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 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. Indeed, his fate is the lamentable story of the classical tragic-hero.

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 balkanised 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. The irony is that two-third of these new traditional rulers were allegedly failed 419ers who needed another cushion to lay their heads.

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.

Mr. GODWIN ADINDU, Communication Director, Aba Union, wrote from Aba.


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