Kalu and his Inexactitudes

By Okwuchukwu Ahaiwe

Kalu and his Inexactitudes
I enjoy reading the Saturday Sun for so many reasons. One of these reasons is reading Henry Akubuiro's arts column with scintillating stories and reviews which increased with the ripe exit of the father of African literature, Prof Chinua Achebe– with no apologies to Prof Wole Soyinka.

As I flicked through the pages of June 15 edition, I stumbled on Orji Uzor Kalu's June 12 lecture in Lagos. As a June 12 activist, paragraph 3 of the treatise in page 64 stung me like a bee: 'As the governor of Abia State, (1999-2007) I took a stand and declared June 12 a public holiday and it was observed as the de facto democracy day in Abia State.' Irritating as that was, I did not want it to foul my perusal of the lecture paper. The two-page newspaper version of the lecture was highly impressive especially the graphic references on June 12 and all that happened. His recommendation for restructuring the polity makes sense too.

Having exhausted the piece, I went back to the stinging paragraph that differed with my facts on June 12. Facts are sacred they say. When our assumed leaders speak; listeners should have confidence and make references to such believing that they are facts. Kalu may have forgotten or may want to rewrite history. History is history and fiction is fiction. History is a record of events that took place at a particular time and period in particular places where chroniclers considered them newsworthy events.

Specifically, Kalu claimed to have declared June 12 a holiday while in office and I state emphatically that he did not in his 8 years in office. June 12 was not a child's play to have unwarranted inflections like Kalu did. It was a revolution in electoral history that shook Nigeria to its foundations. It was a movement that stirred all democrats, all truth lovers and civil liberty organizations to join the fray irrespective of the looming dangers from the jackboots. Students demonstrated, market women closed shops, a new phrase came into the lexicon- Abiola riots. As Kalu admitted innocent Nigerians lost their lives. So it is not right for anybody to come out of hiding and try to impose himself on our psyche that he or she was a June 12 activist.

The other question is, outside attending and addressing people in OPC-organized lectures while in office, what was Kalu's contribution during June 12 1993 and after? Before then, he was elected into the Federal House of Reps and stood a big chance to be heard. What was his opinion when Abiola was in jail? What did he do when Abiola died? When the civil liberty groups championed by Oliver Agbakoba and others protested, where was Kalu? His action reminds me of a frightened actor who took refuge over a superior firepower in a cowboy movie, coming out to boast how he returned fire when the shooting had ended.

June 12 is a nightmare that blights our dreams. A question that begs for answer. Until it is answered, Nigeria will hardly get it right. June 12 is a political template for Nigeria waiting to be adopted.

Kalu got it wrong again when he claimed that there was election malpractice in the Senatorial election in Abia North. In quotes: 'I was a senatorial aspirant in the election and I can give you first hand experience. It was an exercise in which security agencies, particularly the military were used to subvert the will of the people.'

Is he trying to claim affinity with Abiola as one of the deprived? Kalu wants to be ascribed as a democrat but without the least democratic principles. The worst antidemocratic events happened in Kalu's eight years in Abia than any other. He used the impeachment clause one too many. Kalu dethroned the first speaker, orchestrated the second where Hon. Chris Enweremadu and his colleagues ran to Abuja and were impeached by a minority in the house. Kalu ignored all suggestions and recommendations of all stakeholders and exercised serious highhandedness in the party at all levels, ruling like a despot. Chief Tony Ukasanya is still alive and could inform on how he was removed as the first state chairman of the party. He changed deputies as if he was in a dress rehearsal- Abaribe, Nwafor and all.

Kalu should amend his ways. Age is on his side. He can re-strategize and rebuild. Endless hunting with the hounds and running with the hares cannot help him. Reputation is a potent factor in Nigerian politics. Your political sins of today will certainly haunt you tomorrow.

Kalu is a former governor of Abia. Nobody can take that away from him as you can hardly write Abia's history without him. In like manner, it is odd for him to make claims that insult Abia collective sensibilities. On his assertion of winning elections, that is neither here nor there. Is Kalu the type to keep quite under such circumstances? Why did he not go to court if he had a good case? Facts are sacred and opinion is free.

Okwuchukwu Ahaiwe

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