‘He’s an embarrassment to Abia’
- Eze Chikamnayo, Commissioner for Information and Strategy
FORMER governor of Abia State and billionaire businessman, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu has been accused of flaunting the multi-million naira 400-room Igbere, Abia mansion for cheap population and socio-political relevance. But his associates say his critics only want to paint him in bad light.
First to castigate the former Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) presidential aspirant and senatorial hopeful was the Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Eze Chikamnayo, who accused him of being an embarrassment to the state. He described the chairman of Slok Group in more unflattering terms, “Orji Uzor Kalu is a disaster! He is a good example of how not to be a governor. While in government for eight years, he operated from a rented government house bequeathed to the State from the former Abia Military Administrator, Emeka Omeruah. The so-called 400-room Igbere mansion is in bad taste and in bad light because if Kalu had built a Government House and fixed the state, the present administration wouldn’t be spending so much now in building schools, hospitals, industries, international market, state secretariat and more. All these funds would have been channeled to the developmental needs of the state. He is a locust and an embarrassment to all Abians, anywhere in the world.
“We have also observed that, these days, he speaks for Ndi Igbo. Orji Kalu does not speak for Abia. He is not a conveyor of the ideal Abia society. In an ideal society, Orji Uzor Kalu should have been in jail. He should get sober, crave for a good image instead of making empty noise and flaunting his ill-gotten wealth.”
When ENCOMIUM Weekly called Orji Uzor Kalu’s media aide, Emeka Obasi, on Saturday, August 17, 2013, it turned out that the said Obasi is not Prince Emeka Obasi, his former Commissioner for Information and Culture and publisher of Hallmark Newspapers. But one of his associates, who said he didn’t have his permission to comment on the statement credited to Abia State Government, he explained that those calling him names are just being malicious and mischievous.
“Orjo Uzor Kalu is a man of the people. He is one of the most successful Igbo businessmen and politicians today. He did well as governor as well. I don’t think he is the one promoting the story about the over N5 billion Igbere mansion.”
The former Abia State governor neither answered ENCOMIUM Weekly’s repeated calls on Saturday, August 17, 2013 nor replied our SMS for his side of the story.
“Good afternoon, Your Excellency, ENCOMIUM Weekly wants your reaction (or your media aide’s) over a statement by the Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Exe Chikamnayo that you are a locust and an embarrassment to the state. He was reacting to the controversy trialing your 400-room Igbere mansion,” our SMS read.
Some Abia citizens and social critics had, since the photograph of Kalu’s multi-million naira 400-room Igbere wondrous edifice, accused the one-time governor of wasting funds he would have invested in the state for a worthless venture. Another source also told ENCOMIUM Weekly that the so-called mansion is grossly exaggerated and not as magnificent as being portrayed by Kalu’s image makers.
“I’m from that area of Abia State. A mansion of this magnitude does not exist here. Yes, he has Camp Neya, but it is extremely exaggerated,” our source, a gubernatorial aspirant, who pleaded anonymity claimed.
Named Camp Neya, after his daughter and only child, the eye-popping edifice is in Kalu’s ancestral town, Igbere, Bende Local Government of Abia State. He started the exotic structure in 1998 and completed it before he left office in 2007.
The multi-million mansion reportedly has 400 rooms! In it are 36 jumbo size sitting rooms, 12 presidential lodge, Governors’ Lodge for all the 36 state governors and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and a 500,000 capacity conference hall. There is also a banquet hall, 22 kitchens, 102 toilets, 76 bathrooms, 187 bedrooms, a golf course, a football pitch, an Olympic size swimming pool, one indoor swimming pool, basketball court, lawn tennis court and a sports centre.
Kalu’s promoters also told the world that the building in question made provision for a church, mosque, filling station, ATM machines and a bush bar, amongst other facilties.
- UCHE OLEHI
This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, August 20, 2013