Kalu: A true financier of PDP
The former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu recently withdrew from his Abia North senatorial objective, giving his point on what he said were the inconsequentialities that had become Governor Theodore Orji's convention in the state's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Kalu contained that in a letter he addressed to the PDP's national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu and, President Goodluck Jonathan. Subsequently, Kalu demanded that the money he had expended on purchasing his intent form be refunded to him.
One thing those who do not know should know about this puzzle is that Kalu has been a great and true financier of the PDP. And it baffles mammoth onlookers in and out of the country why PDP in Abia State should toe the line of frivolities ahead of the 2015 elections, owing to the fact that Kalu is a great figure anywhere that should not be toyed with, because he has always been useful to the PDP.
For example, for his love for the PDP, Kalu had to borrow N500 million from Hallmark Bank in 1999 to finance the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) elections in 1999. That was when the party and those in it could not afford a dime for the welfare of the party.
Conversely, instead the party would reward him handsomely, President Olusegun Obasanjo who later thought that Kalu was a thorn in his neck, told the party's national chairman at the time, Chief Barnabas Gemade, not to repay the loan.
As if that was not enough, Nigerians knew that Slok Airline and Hallmark Bank businesses belonging to Kalu, were shut down then by Obasanjo-led PDP government.
At that time, Kalu also gave Obasanjo N100m for 1999 elections and another N100m to the PDP prior to the 1999 elections, which opened the eyes of many that the party had a millionaire in it, who would stop at nothing in making sure that the party was a formidable one.
In retrospect, while as 'Guest of the Week' on a Kaduna-based Liberty FM radio programme in 2013, Kalu said: “I made millions before joining politics. I was doing business between Maiduguri and the East. I carried fish from Maiduguri to the East and palm oil from the East to Maiduguri. So, I had money and invested so much in the PDP.”
Kalu believed that if the party was a company, he would have been a major shareholder. It was obvious that Kalu and (Saminu) Turaki spent more on the party than any other Nigerian. Something that the likes of President Goodluck Jonathan should understand so that the party does not lose Kalu is that he was the first to give the party N100m to register and also the first to give Obasanjo N100m to campaign during the 1999 election.
If Kalu had not been obstinate in donating money to the PDP, perhaps, there would not have been the PDP of today, where so many Johny Just Come (JJC) are calling the shots. In a place like Abia, these sets of persons are jittery that with the re-entry of Kalu into the PDP, would be exposing them for ridicule, hence they are fighting him up and down, the same way Obasanjo fell apart with Kalu then, for the simple reason that Kalu was against the former's Third Term Agenda.
If not for Kalu's love for the PDP, he would have been a sycophant and allow Obasanjo to have his way: like many some notable Nigerians did. In the words of Kalu, “Obasanjo wanted to perpetuate himself in office as President… It was the then President of America, George Bush, who genuinely derailed the third term agenda. I told Bush about it and that is why Obasanjo hates me. Bush told him that it was not possible in a constitutional democracy. I try to avoid him (Obasanjo) at public functions.”
Nobody can tell Kalu that Obasanjo was not interested in a third term, because he would tell anybody that huge money was involved in the project; two senators from Abia State even came with the money to bribe Kalu and he asked them that he was not interested in the money.
Nigerians knew that before the Ohaneze mounted pressure on Kalu to jettison his project of gaining Igbo presidency, he had said, “Igbo are going to vote for Igbo in 2015. Jonathan has the constitutional right to run but he is not an Igbo man. There are many qualified Igbo men. I am not saying I'm running for President now but there are possibilities that other Igbo men are thinking about that. Northerners should support us for the presidency in 2015 because we supported (Shehu) Shagari. We supported (Umaru) Yar'Adau, (Yakubu) Gowon and Tafawa Balewa.”
But for his love for the party that he has always assisted greatly, Kalu had to give up his project in 2015, for the betterment of the PDP he had said that his return to, was to give the party a second chance and to see if he could make positive changes in the party, unlike some persons in the party who have grabbed the party with their two hands and two legs, would not want some persons to join or re-join the party, especially in Abia State-led by Governor Theodore Orji.
Kalu has suffered for the PDP than any member of the party. It could be recalled that when neither the party nor Obasanjo wanted to repay Kalu's N500 million loan and there was a disagreement, the same PDP-led government that Kalu had done this good for, ordered for his arrest by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, immediately he stepped out of office; Kalu was charged with money laundering before both the United kingdom and America came to his rescue. Imagine!
If he was corrupt as the PDP-led government of Obasanjo era wanted the world to believe, the two countries above would not have intervened. However, Kalu remains an enigma. He did not fall despite all the setbacks faced by the Slok Group of Companies, where he is the Founder; it had no fewer than 13,000 in its pay roll and planned to employ up to 25,000 Nigerians by 2015.
Even though that Kalu had jettisoned his project for an Igbo presidency for the unity of the PDP, Kalu had said in an dialogue when reporters thought that there would be problems on the issue of ethnic presidency between the different tribes thus: “It will not generate anything, let me tell you the truth, I'm an Igbo man, I'm asking for Igbo president, but that wasn't what we agreed in the PDP in 1999, the PDP agreed that the rotation should be between the South and the North, so that at any given time, if it comes to the South-and since the South West has taken theirs, it will now be either South-South or South-East.
“When it goes back to the North, it will either be North Central or North West or North East, that was what the PDP agreed. And by that, nobody will be bothered, you know it will soon be your own turn and many issues that have not been addressed will be taken care of.”
Olaniyi Olanike writes from Umuahia.