Orji Uzor Kalu: The chameleon in Gov. Theodore Orji

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For 8 years he worked as my Chief of Staff, I never used a foul language on him or berated him. Rather I treated him with utmost respect and love, even where he had visibly wronged me. I left virtually every­thing pertaining to the administration of the Government House under his care and di­rection. He was in charge of almost every­thing in Government House – from security to routine administration. I, working with one of my closest aides then, Victor Oye, and commissioners, concentrated on policy formulation, key-decision-mak­ing and supervision of the ministries. There were no-go areas for him. In fact, he had uninhibited access to my bedroom, my of­fice and every place. Each he travelled abroad he stayed at my private residences. [eap_ad_1] I recall with deep pain (because he stabbed me in back) the day he came to the Governor’s Lodge to see me. I was in the bathroom. Time was 6.30 in the morn­ing. He had come with a letter for my sig­nature. The letter was urgent as the Attor­ney-General was to travel to Abuja with it first thing in the morning of that fateful day. When my personal aide drew my attention to his presence I asked him to bring him up into my bedroom. When he knocked, I asked him to come straight on to the bath­room, because of the urgency of the letter, not minding that I was naked. I used a dry towel to hold the pen he brought for me to sign the said letter. Before I signed the let­ter I told him that now that he had seen my nakedness there was nothing else I could keep away from him. I also told him that if he chose in future to betray me there would be nothing else to talk about. He was jolted by my comment and stood fixated for some minutes, barely controlling his shock. I am sure he recalls that statement each moment he goes out of his way to malign me. That is if his conscience pricks him.

There was nothing good I did not do for this man. I gave him his first executive car in life and money to build a befitting house, encouraged him to send his children to good schools, entrusted him with administra­tion of Government House, including the management of financial resources due to the governor and the Government House. He also rose to the enviable position of di­rector, and later permanent secretary within the same period. I cannot list everything here, because the list is long.

I capped my goodness to him by mak­ing him governor (by grace of God and the unflinching support of our people), while he was in detention at the Kirikiri Minimum Prison, Lagos. As I indicated earlier in this article, many people openly opposed his candidature for the position of governor for many reasons. Somebody – a very close confidant of the governor now – approached me then and warned against making him governor. He gave a very grave reason I should never make him governor. Even the then President Olusegun Obasanjo told me pointblank not to make him gov­ernor. He struck a deal with my mother to instead choose one of my younger brothers to succeed me as governor in place of Theo­dore Orji.

To all advice, I said no. I told who­ever cared to listen then that Chief Theo­dore Orji would succeed me. The reason I settled for him was simple: I thought I had groomed him sufficiently enough to step into my shoes and continue the good works we had started. If I had wanted somebody that would do my biddings blindly, defi­nitely it would not have been Chief Orji. I would have settled for one of the more doc­ile aspirants. I saw in Chief Orji humane­ness, humility, simplicity, resilience and hard work, not the haughty, stiff-necked, abusive and cruel personality he currently showcases.

For those who did not know: we went through hell (figuratively speaking) to make him governor. Imagine somebody in detention, without spending a dime or casting his own for himself, becoming governor in a hotly-contested governorship election in a state like Abia! Recall we had to contend with enormous might of the Federal Government, which had earlier thrown its support behind another candi­date. Again, the Progressive Peoples’ Al­liance (PPA) – the political platform that was used to deliver him as governor – was formed barely four months to the governor­ship election. So, you can see, he got power on a platter; probably that accounts for the levity with which he holds the office today.