- By Peter Eze
He is a household name, especially since his foray into politics. This name has been targeted at various times, but the enigma remains who he is – Orji Uzor Kalu.
In order to tarnish his image, this hard-earned name was aimed at, especially during his ordeal in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). But the man continues to live the life he knows best- to serve his country in different capacities, to serve and love his people to the best of his ability and to aspire as all human must as long as they still have breath.
Kalu is a politician who understands the political terrain of his country, and always and often, he walks that terrain with utmost care and tenderness, which oftentimes appears annoying to those who think he should be more aggressive and apply the cunning and guile style of typical Nigerian politicians.
Before politics, he was a self-made man, which is often forgotten. Instead, many would prefer to center their thought on his political life, which is not bad in itself, but for the bitter players in the country’s politicking.
Here is a young man, a typical Nigerian Igbo man with high spirit to succeed, the first child of his parents, who understood the responsibility on his shoulders as the first child who must never fail because any such failure would mean a lot to the family. He was restless, understandably so.
The ‘Aba Boy’ as he is popularly known, grew up in that commercial city with plenty to study and to learn from, and he indeed studied and learnt a lot from that city, which would sharpen and propel him for the future in the world of business, which he succeeded and continued to succeed in.
At 62, nothing has changed about him. He still inspires hope in many Nigerians, young and old, rich and poor. He still motivates. He still gives hope. He is still ambitious. And essentially, the love of his people and his country has never diminished. He cries daily and within that Nigeria has everything it takes to compete with the rest of the world and could even better it.
Kalu believes that leadership has continued to be the bane of the country. And he is so sure about it that once the country could get to the climax of leadership principle and discipline, the sky is only the limit for the people and country.
When he was the governor of Abia state, with near to zero funding, either from the federal government or little to nothing coming as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), he was able to carry the state on to a state of recognition, stamping out the silly politics and politicking of subjectivity that hampered growth and development that would in the future, place him in the hated list of the good-for-nothing in the society.
On his 61st birthday, he was asked this question: How much do you love your people? His answer was as breathtaking as you can ever get as he is always at his pragmatic helm. Hear him: “My people? I think this is an attempt to draw me into the tribal war that has not helped anyone in this country, which has continued to malign our humanity as a people. I love humanity. I do not care wherever they come from as long as they as humans, continue to possess the true character and characteristics of that same humanity all of us should and must lay claim.
“I love everybody, everyone; every Nigerian, every member of the world’s citizenship, which cannot in any way be limited to Igbere, Abia, the southeast or the Igbo tribe; I love everybody; I love every Nigerian and every member of the world’s collective society.
“Take a look at my face, what do you see? You only need to take a deep look at my face to see the face of a vibrant and true Nigerian, because in this house where you are interviewing me, everyone is represented here, working here as my personal staff, and, as my personal staffers, you enjoy all the freedom there is and you can get. I am committed to loving any Nigerian or human being irrespective of the person’s geography.”
A few may not have cherished some words in that interview because they have always expected him to love his Igbo tribe against the humanity which all mankind belongs and must strive in working towards a peaceful coexistence.
At 62, should he stop dreaming or bury his ambition? Age does not stop or limit the dreams or the drive of any man, perhaps this is the time he should dream more and be even more ambitious. “Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself,” John Locke stated.
At this ripe and eventful age, the Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate popularly called the Chief Whip of the Federation by his colleagues, is a property to himself which only himself has the right to and nobody else. So, the right to dream along with that property belongs entirely to him and he can do whatever he wishes with it.
That property he took with him after many years of absence from partisan politics until he was elected into the Senate of his country. Since his entrant into the senate, he has continued to prove that he knows what constituency and the representation of the constituents at the federal level is all about.
His constituency and constituents have continued to benefit from his rich leadership which had been denied them over the years. Roads have been constructed, schools and hospitals have been built. Just few days ago, the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, was in Abia North to commission some road and school projects built by Kalu. In his three years as senator, Kalu has built 53 roads in his Abia North Senatorial District. His excellent outing in the senate has earned him great honor and admiration from Nigerians as he has become an exemplary senator. He has never stopped being philanthropic and charitable. And he has continued to show that the redemption of any society lies in the enlightenment of the minds and the kind of education entrusted to the occupants of such a society.
Until recently, one out of his numerous bills to establish a Federal College of Education in Arochukwu has scaled through its first and second reading on the floor of the Senate.
What does this entail? The bill seeks the amendment of the Federal Colleges Act Cap F8 N143 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, for the establishment of the proposed tertiary institution to be established in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, which follows, once the bill is passed into law, the existing College of Education [Technical] in Arochukwu would be upgraded and become a College of Education. For him, as in the pursuit of happiness and the fulfillment of it, education matters most.
For the ebullient and energetic sixty-two-year old young man, his thoughts concerning leadership is quite different. He is more practical than theoretical and this is something he puts into practice day by day. Leadership for him is all about not being the best; instead, a continuous work in progress to make sure everyone in the society becomes better.
A country he is as old as, what does he think is the way forward? Investment in the youths – they should be given a sense of belonging, the environment should be conditioned such that it is enabled enough to fit into the drive and energy of these youths where they can thrive to harness and develop their skills. The country, he continues to maintain, should not have any reason to complain and be lagging behind in the comity of nations if only it could readdress its mindset.
Would he run for the highest office of his country? Why has he not joined the bandwagon of declarations being seen and read in the media of the surplus aspirants who want to lead the country after President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office?
Why not? He is capable. He has been grilled and drilled for it since the very day he found himself in the floody waters of his country’s politics with all its many ordeals and conflicts and riches of experience. He should be well-grounded in the tackling of the security issues of his country as attested to when he was the governor of Abia State. He is very strong in economic thinking, he is a successful businessman and well connected and with relevant contacts in the right places locally and internationally. He is a friend of the North, South, West and East of his country and far yonder that gives him the know-how when it comes to international politics.
Yet he maintains a stoic silence amidst the ocean waves of declarations even though his billboards, pictures and adverts are everywhere in the country being sponsored by private groups and individuals who believe in his leadership qualities that he would make a great leader, and his pragmatism and daring mien would be a plus in the redemption of the country.
He is a party man, he believes his ambition cannot supersede that of the party. The party has to make a decision as regards its zoning formula on what region of the country it wants the presidency to go. A zoning he expects to land on the doorstep of the southeast, if not for anything but for fairness and equity and to prove to the world that indeed, all the preachment about the unity of the country is a practice to write home about. And besides, what are the qualities in the other regions of the country that cannot be easily found in the southeast as well?
Then the declaration would happen once the party reaches its decision, as he is one man that has everything it takes to lead the country into awakeness.
As you clock 62 on April 21, May God bless you with the brilliant beams of the sun on your life, satisfying it with your every desire!
Happy birthday to one of the greatest sons of the Southeast of Nigeria and the most detribalized Nigerian ever liveth.
Eze , Special Assistant to Distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu wrote in via email@example.com