That Media War On Senator Orji
SINCE former governor of Abia State and now senator representing Abia Central district, Senator Theodore Orji (Ochendo) parted way with his predecessor, Chief Orji Uzo Kalu, there has been no love lost between them. Before they parted way, Kalu the godfather had lorded it over Orji, the godson in the running of the affairs of the state for almost four years of Orji’s first term in office. Orji was then tagged Bishop without a cathedral by Abia people.
But immediately Senator Orji liberated himself and the state from the shadow of Kalu and his family, a well-planned and sustained media attack was launched on him, his government and families by Kalu and his supporters. Readily available to carry out the attack were Kalu’s two Lagos-based newspapers.
Followers of the column and the newspapers contents can easily attest to the fact that from 2010 till date, so much lies and libel have been written against Orji, his government and family. It would seem that attack on Orji formed part of the editorial policy of the newspapers. In the face of these media provocation by Kalu, Orji has remained focused and silent, refusing to be provoked into making counter attack; as if to say that silence is the best answer to such provocation.
Having completed his second term as governor, Orji was voted into office as senator in the last election. Many had expected that Kalu’s newspapers should have learnt to stop the pettiness, jealously, and attacks at Orji. But as a leopard that can hardly change his colour, he has continued to throw tantrums at Senator Orji in his weekly column.
In his column of July 4, Kalu asked why Abia State should seek financial assistance, whereas Orji wasted eight years as governor chasing shadow. Kalu seems to have forgotten that he was the mind behind mask during Orji’s first four years in office, despite the huge debt profile he handed over to Orji? If other states, viable and rich states like Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Lagos with huge monthly allocation and IGR seek financial assistance, why shouldn’t Abia? Have we forgotten that on assumption of office in 2007, Orji promoted all civil servants in the state that had their promotions delayed during Kalu’s administration? Orji was the first state governor to pay the minimum wage of N21, 000. It is of credit to Orji that during his administration, workers never embarked on strike in the state. Orji was the first governor of the state to give workers a standard and functional Workers’ Secretariat.
There is no doubt that Abia State is today among the least indebted states in the country courtesy of Orji’s prudent and accountable management of the state resources for eight years. There are so many capital projects executed across the state by Orji’s administration. They are verifiable and visible contrary to Kalu’s claim on the pages of newspaper that Orji was chasing shadow for eight years. Posterity will ever remember Orji as the man who laid for the first time solid foundation for modern Abia in all ramifications. Abia people and visitors to the state can attest to it.
On Kalu’s claim that he has written severally on how Orji allegedly looted Abia State for eight years, when has Kalu become the chairman of anti-graft agency in the country? When has trying somebody on the pages of newspaper become law in Nigeria? If truly Kalu has a dossier on Orji, doesn’t he know where to go and submit it? Is he afraid of going to the anti-graft agency because of his pending case there? Orji was one of the most accountable governors in the last eight years. While in office, he consistently accounted for the state income and expenditure. Neither Orji nor any member of his family was under investigation or prosecution for any fraud then and now. That does not mean that some people will not fabricate one anytime against them, if that will mean settling scores.
Since 2007, Kalu has contested two senatorial elections in Abia North and has been rejected by the people twice. Questioning Orji’s election to the Senate in the last election is the height of hypocrisy and jealousy. Kalu should be more concerned about his petition at the Tribunal challenging the victory of Senator Mao Ohabunwa of Abia North that defeated him in the poll. When has Kalu become INEC or Judge to conclude that Orji’s senatorial victory was fraudulently procured? Kalu has boasted in 2011 that Orji will not win his re-election in office. Orji won it by landslide, and Kalu lost his senatorial election. In 2010, Kalu claimed to have returned to the PDP parading membership card, only to make a u-turn to contest senatorial election on his party platform, Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) in 2011 and 2015.
Dr. Ugwuagha, a university don wrote from Aba, Abia State