By Emeka Chidiebere
Senator Orji Uzor Kalu happened on Abia politics during General Sani Abacha’s ignominious transition to civil rule on the platform of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). The party was among the rogue four that had all its roots and branches inside Abacha and gleefully adopted the dictator, who was transmuting into a politician as their consensus presidential candidate in a transition programme that was a sham and shambolic.
Of the defunct parties, scorned as five fingers of a diseased hand by the late erudite Bola Ige, the UNCP stuck out in every material sense as the thumb. Barring Abacha’s sudden passing, Kalu was primed to win its nomination for Abia Government House.
But obvious was that the politicians who endeavoured to deodorized the skunk that Abacha’s transition was, unfurled in no unclear terms to Nigerians as solipsistic dregs, who lived in the dictator’s rectum.
Whatever Abacha wanted, Kalu and others were present and available as tools to confer a semblance of legitimacy on it. Kalu and the few who volunteered as pawns in Abacha’s chessboard were in those heady days, the only politicians in the country who walked free, lived free and slept with both eyes shut.
All others were endangered. Among Nigerians who despised Kalu and the rest of the cheerleading rump in the Abacha’s political programme of annihilation was the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Tinubu and NADECO members were the conscience of the Nigerian society, which Kalu and company on the other hand endeavoured to suppress. Tinubu and other pro-democracy figures offered the mass of the people hope against the Abacha moving train and its occupants. Outside the murderous train and its obnoxious occupants, every citizen who dissented risked life and limb; faced hell and high waters and all manners of every day existential threats. Scores were dispatched, trying to redeem our society from the cut-throat political space Abacha, Kalu and others transformed it to.
Those who went down fighting did so for the enthronement of unfettered participatory democracy and decent clime.
Nigerians craved for a breather as jail houses swarmed with opposition figures; as bullets flew at against them at every turn and hurried self-exile the only life line for opposition voices. While the evils raged, Kalu and others worked for the perpetuation of the repugnant system, which only benefitted them.
With the dawn of democracy in 1999, it was incongruous that Tinubu and Kalu who pursue diametrical ideals would sail in the same boat. The former found family in the progressive hue Alliance for Democracy (AD) while the latter nestled in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose successes had the fingerprints of the departing establishment.
One of the peculiar oddities of the Nigerian political space is its high turnover of itinerant politicians. In our country a politician can change his political leaning far much quicker and at a frequency more eerie than the famed British weather. Here, it fits perfectly for politician to be a progressive in the morning, a conservative in the evening and anything in-between the belts. This best explains why the likes of Tinubu would beat their chests as progressives and a Kalu we all know would materialise to claim the same badge.
Sharing the same party makes it even all the more dizzying to some observers. But not to many because our land is that of absurdities, perhaps the only place in the Universe where light and darkness cohabit in a perilous union against everything that enhances life and living for the citizens.
Kalu is the subject of this discourse simply because of his treachery against his party, the APC and its presidential candidate in the lead up to the February 25 presidential election in both his Abia State and the South-east region.
His public display of his ballot paper, thumprinted for APC in the presidential election scarcely obliterates the fact that he didn’t show up in any South-east, APC presidential campaign for Tinubu. Kalu was not seen any of the presidential campaigns held across the entire six regions of the country.
It will not obviate the fact that he neither sponsored a single Tinubu campaign poster in the whole of his Abia State, much less a billboard advertisement. Those who walked their talk for the party, particularly in Kalu’s Abia pinned him pants down in negotiating off the patronage of his Abia North voters to a rival political party for the presidential election and the opposite for the National Assembly election in which he contested.
Few posers have become compelling: Why did Senator Kalu ensure that he shied away from APC presidential campaign rallies in all of the South-east? Was it for nothing that he did not identify with his party’s presidential flag bearer during the campaigns in his Igboland? Knowing the disadvantages the APC faced in his Abia, Abia North Senatorial District and the entire South-east was Senator Kalu incapable of financing the production of campaign materials as lowly flyers and hand bills for his party’s presidential candidate? Was it possible he wasn’t acting out a personal agenda against Tinubu? These are not hypothetical questions, they’re fact-based and demands meaningful answers from the Senator.
While a few may have forgotten that all Kalu wanted was the APC presidential ticket for his former classmate, Senator Ahmad Lawan-the outgoing Senate president-not a few expected that he would work for the presidential candidate of his party with the primary won and lost.
There are no surprises that Kalu right now has his eyes fixed on the position of the Senate Presidency, which may be micro-zoned to his region but what circumstances would support for a man to reap where he did not sow? Kalu should be reminded that the same Bible he now quotes copiously disapproves that a man who did not work should not eat: 2 Thessalonians 3:10. This engagement is a fair challenge to Kalu to make known his efforts at working for the electoral success of the President-elect, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the APC for all to hear and see besides his thumb print for the party and the public show he made out of it.
Voting for Tinubu after laying traps and preparing the terrain for his fall at the electoral field is a classic facade which takes the definition of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds to a whole new level.
Who exactly is Kalu afraid of when he hurriedly took to his social media handles to appeal to other contenders to eschew campaigns of name callings? While it is Kalu’s prerogative to seek to be Senate President, he needs not be reminded that it is only fair that those who worked or at least made attempt to work should be numbered first for reckoning.
Any system that rewards treachery and betrayal cannot guarantee peace and cohesion. It only beckons on unavoidable implosion.
Again, Kalu also needs not be reminded that every ruling party has a responsibility of ensuring that who ever is to emerge a Senate president will not be a saboteur to the president or seen to be one.
Emeka Chidiebere writes from Aba