FORMER Abia state Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu has dismissed rumours that he simply chickened out of Abia Senatorial race for fear of defeat by anointed candidate of his political rival, estranged ally and incumbent Governor, Chief Theodore Ahamefula Orji.
The billionaire businessman even boasted he would trounce Governor Orji in any election in and outside Abia. Kalu explained he had to abandon his ambition to save the ruling PDP from imminent implosion capable of causing them defeat and truncating President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid.
The popular politician and founding member of the PDP disclosed this through his Special Adviser on Media/Publicity, Mr. Ebere Wabara who had a phone chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Saturday, November 29, 2014.
“There is nothing like Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu chickening out of the Abia Senatorial race. He had to withdraw from the race for reasons that border on Governor Orji’s imposition of delegates who would do his bidding at the primaries for the election of PDP candidates. He knows the outcome of any election to be conducted through these manipulations. A thousand Orjis can’t beat OUK in any free and fair election in the country. Like I argued in a recent article, the idea of Jonathan giving Governors total control of the party for fear of losing votes is not the best. I don’t think he needs only the governors and members of the National Assembly to win the 2015 General election.”
On why Kalu didn’t decamp to another party to pursue his political ambition, his spokesman (Ebere Wabara) argued it was not in his best political interest. He also said that Kalu’s commitment to the Jonathan Presidential Project cannot allow him to jump ship again.
The Chairman of SLOK and Nigeria’s sixth richest man dumped PDP in 2007 to form the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA). He sponsored his Chief of Staff of eight years and the incumbent governor as the party’s governorship flag-bearer. And while in EFCC custody, T. A. Orji defeated Dr. Onyema Ugochukwu, the candidate of the PDP back then.
Unfortunately, Orji Kalu and T. A. Orji parted ways few years after his inauguration as Abia Governor. Kalu has since returned to PDP where his erstwhile political godson does not give him a breathing space.
Governor Orji would frustrate Kalu’s senatorial ambition in 2011 when Kalu sponsored his Deputy Comrade Chris Akomas (as PPA guber candidate) against him (Orji). Senator Uche Chukwumerije retained the Abia North seat at the end of the fierce electoral battle. Governor Orji also recorded landslide victory in the guber poll.
Kalu’s fresh senatorial bid in 2014 has now again been dashed with Governor Orji taking over the party structure in all wards and local government areas of the state.
Orji Kalu who said he is no longer running for senate on the platform of the PDP, has therefore asked the party to refund the N5.5m for the nomination and expression of interest forms he paid in respect of Abia North Senatorial district.
Kalu, in a letter to the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, dated November 24, said he was withdrawing from the race because the Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, has allegedly concluded plans to handpick PDP aspirants in the state.
“Since I was not screened, and neither did I go through any of the stipulated processes that lead to the emergence of candidates, I hereby also ask the party, as a measure of honour and good faith, to refund the nomination fees I paid. I will use the money to further empower my constituents in many other ways,” he said in the letter.
He lamented that the governor allowed some high profile members of the party to resign from their plum positions to contest for the PDP ticket when he should have advised them to keep their positions since he already had aspirants he has handpicked to fly the PDP ticket.
According to him, “Along the line, however, it became apparent that the Abia State Governor, Chief T.A Orji wants to handpick all candidates, both into executive and legislative positions. He wants to choose his own successor, fill the 24 House of Assembly seats, the eight federal constituencies and the three senatorial seats.
“Governor Orji knew ahead of time that he had a candidate in mind but deliberately allowed eminent Abia citizens like Dr. Alex Otti, GMD of Diamond Bank to resign from his lofty position when he should have advised him to remain there.
“He also allowed Chief Emeka Wogu, Minister of Labour to resign and lose Abia slot in the Federal Executive Council and other ministerial committees; he equally allowed two ranking members of the Senate in the person of Senator Nkechi Nwogu, chairman Senate Committee on Oil and Gas and Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, chairman Senate Committee on Media and Information to pick gubernatorial forms when he should have advised them to go for re-election in the senate.
“I find all these very disturbing. When Governor Orji was to be elected the first time in 2007, everyone knew where I stood three years before then that he was my anointed candidate. There was absolutely no ambiguity unlike now that he has allowed these people to lose their positions and resources chasing shadows. It is quite obvious that Governor Orji’s plan is to bring everybody down.”
Kalu also declared that an alleged earlier arrangement he claimed he had with the national leadership of the party that would enable him to be screened in Abuja was not adhered to.
He said, “I know that members of the National Working Committee have intervened severally and assured me that I would be screened between Thursday and Friday last week for the senatorial race.
“However, it did not happen, causing me to conclude that the party has perhaps acquiesced to the desire of Governor Orji to handpick all the candidates.
“If this is the true picture of things, I wish to defer on the judgement and decision of the party. Rather than be an intractable issue in the Abia chapter of our great party, I would rather subordinate personal ambition for party cohesion, and quit the forthcoming electoral race. I hereby formally withdraw from the bid to represent the good people of Abia North in the senate next year.”
Kalu, however, assured PDP leaders that he will remain a loyal member of the party and work for the success of all candidates of the party in the state.