From the tone of the write-up, which was published on some online platforms a few days ago, it is not only glaring that the writer and his/her cohorts, have a common goal of bringing down the outstanding profile of former Governor of Abia State and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Orji Kalu. While I am not against anyone sharing his/her opinion, I am usually disturbed when lies and falsehood are being twisted as facts, thereby compromising the minds of the unsuspecting readers with fake information. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have wasted my precious time responding to the sponsored media blackmail but for future reference, I must give my objective and validated claims on issues raised in the sponsored article.
To start with, the Sun newspaper is a business entity and as such, it is entitled to take a position on issues without recourse to Dr. Orji Kalu. Let me remind the public that former Governor of Abia State was a successful businessman in all ramifications before venturing into politics. His sojourn into public sector was borne out of a clarion call for service. As far back as 1989, Kalu had set up Orji Kalu Education Foundation and Orji Uzor Kalu Loan Scheme, providing scholarships for indigents in Abia state from primary school to university level and interest-free loan for widows and petty traders ranging from N5, 000 to N50, 000. As at 1992, about N200m had been expended on these gestures.
In 1999, when Kalu took the mantle of leadership, the debt profile inherited from the military government was about N8billion. Despite the financial challenge, Kalu deployed his business dexterity to manage the accruable federal allocation and the state internally generated revenue. Kalu set out his priority with infrastructure topping the list and within 48 hrs of his coming into office, bulldozers and other earth moving equipments were deployed to commence work on Aba roads. In less than 100 days in office, Kalu had successfully constructed and rehabilitated Omuma, Umule, Ukwu Mango, Georges, Market, Azikwe, Mosque Ohanku and Osusu roads (ranging from 5-20kilometres).
These roads had been impassable for over 20 years. There were many other roads constructed in the hinterlands of the state. During President Olusegun Obasanjo’s visit to Abia State, Kalu was christened “Action Governor” for his giant strides in infrastructure to the admiration of Abians. Kalu who knows the imperative of an educated population, shortly after assuming office, declared free education from primary to secondary school.
University education was equally highly subsidized. Kalu upgraded Abia State University by providing good hostel accommodation for students, generators, conducive lecture rooms and ensured lectures and non-teaching staff members of the university and other higher institutions received their salaries timely.
The free mobile health scheme of Kalu’s administration attracted accolades from neighboring states. Indigents in rural areas had access to basic and quality health care and more importantly, primary health centres were constructed and equipped with modern medical equipmens. The state government also provided on a regular basis drugs to public health centres.
Pregnant women in the rural communities could access medical care at their door steps. Abia state internal revenue was put at N6m when Kalu took the mantle of leadership. Knowing that the state could not depend largely on federal allocation, Kalu’s administration set out strategies to boost the state’s IGR while blocking leakages and other corrupt practices. IGR grew from N6m to N30m on a monthly basis within Kalu’s first year in office. Coming from the private sector and coupled with his resolve to rebuild Abia, Kalu realized that for him to achieve his well-articulated goals, he needed to build the capacity of the state workforce. Civil servants were sent on training regularly locally and abroad .
Capacity building programmes were tailored to cover deficiencies in the system. Kalu equally motivated workers by ensuring timely payment of salaries, arrears and pensions. It is on record that workers received their salaries on or before 27th of every month and the administration never owed salaries, pensions and arrears. There were also regular promotions of civil servants.
Sports development was key in Kalu’s government. He promoted grassroots sports engagement and development. The story of Enyimba International FC winning the CAF champions League back to back in 2003 and 2004 is still fresh in the minds of the people. Kalu fought corruption in the system. Government properties which were sold at ridiculous prices were withdrawn and subsequently, a transparent bidding process for sale of government properties was adopted. Inflation of contracts which was a norm before Kalu’s assumption of office was eradicated completely due to a well set-up procurement process initiated by Kalu’s administration.
It was this initiative that made government detect a fraud in the award of contract for the supply of automatic voltage regular to Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) at N47m. Eventually, the contract was cancelled and re-awarded at N7m. Internal security was also restored during Kalu’s era as Governor.
Extra-judicial killings perpetrated by unlawful bodies were eradicated. There was also regular engagement of stakeholders on security issues. Police officers were also insured during Kalu’s administration as a way of motivating them in the fight against crime and other vices. Town hall meetings were equally held from time to time to promote feedback mechamism between the government and the governed. The security vote of the Governor was judiciously managed and allocated for security intelligence, insurance of policemen and other initiatives.
Kalu’s achivements as governor of Abia state are enormous and too numerous to mention. Precisely on February 8, 2018, An Abia State High Court sitting in Isiukwato ordered the restoration of Kalu’s university certificate, which was fraudulently withdrawn by a kangaroo panel set up Abia State University on the orders of a former governor in the state. After all, Kalu merited the certificate having attended lectures and passed examinations while meeting other conditions of the award of bachelor’s degree.
To say Kalu is seeking media attention is not only absurd but total disrespect to his person. Having been in national limelight for over three decades, Kalu is a household name in the business and political circles. Growing his business entity from a trading company to an empire with vast business interests across the globe and coupled with his achievements thus far, Kalu needs no sudden media garnishing for him to be well known or popular. Kalu’ s statesmanship has given him opportunity to be involved in numerous initiatives including Njiko- Igbo, G-37, Peace Advocacy Initiative and these platforms have made positive impacts on the society.
I recall during Kalu’s presentation on the state of the Igbo nation before a large audience at the British House of Commons in London in 2014, the former governor identified the unequal representation and allocation of federal resources to the South East. Back home, he has presented many papers on the marginalization of the Igbo nation on different occasions.
Just recently, Kalu, a detrabilized Nigerian took his peace advocacy to the South West, North West and other parts of the country. The former governor by all standards, is an enigma and a rare and patriotic Nigerian, whose passion for a united and indivisible cannot be compromised by cheap blackmail. Since the writer decided to drag Kalu’s mother and younger brother , Elder (Mrs) Eunice Uzor Kalu and Hon. Nnanna Kalu, former Member, House of Representatives (Aba North and Aba South) into his sponsored article, it is crystal clear that there is more to his write-up. Just for the records, the writer and his cohorts had at some point benefitted immensely from the generosity of the Kalu family.
Over the years, Kalu’s mum, whom had been engaged in philanthropy, had built and sustained large followers especially among the womenfolk, which later translated into enormous goodwill for herself and her children. Hence, the story that Kalu’s mum ran Abia State government with her son, Kalu, is far from the truth. Odiuko n’mba, as she is fondly called by her numerous admirers will continue to be relevant for her selflessness, generosity and community service. It is also important to state that the goodwill of the Kalus’ also paved way for Hon. Nnanna Kalu to represent the people of Aba in the National Assembly.
It is indeed worrisome that due to envy , a few individuals will continue to mislead the general public with false claims about people who have not only impacted lives positively but created a niche for themselves in different capacities beyond the shores of Nigeria. Kalu, an astute business mogul, a consummate politician and a philanthropist par excellence, whose milk of kindness knows no bounds, is one of the biggest employers of labour in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
His vast business interests have continually provided jobs, wealth and capacity for Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike Now, authors of pull-him down articles, may wish to have a rethink, as no amount of character defamation and misinformation will derail Kalu from his focus on joining other stakeholders in building a decent society.
●Anyim writes from Aba
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