I watched a video clip of the programme tagged “my advocacy” anchored by Liborous Oshoma Esq and for the records, it is imperative to state the facts in order not to get the public misled on the above subject.
Let me remind the public that before Kalu’s sojourn in the murky waters of politics, he had built a robust and well-known business empire, which provided employment for thousands of people across the globe. His involvement in active politics was borne out of his passion and commitment to selfless service.
As far back as 1989, “Orji Uzor Kalu Education Scheme” and “Orji Uzor Kalu Loan Scheme” were already providing succor for indigents in Abia state and beyond. Scholarships were awarded and interest-free loans ranging from N5,000 to N20,000 were given to petty traders and artisans.
In 1999, when Kalu took the mantle of leadership, the debt profile inherited from the military government was about N8billion. Despite the financial challenge, Kalu deployed his business dexterity to manage the accruable federal allocation and the state internally generated revenue. Kalu set out his priority with infrastructure topping the list and within 48 hrs of his coming into office, bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment were deployed to commence work on Aba roads.
In less than 100 days in office, Kalu had successfully constructed and rehabilitated Omuma, Umule, Ukwu Mango, Georges, Market, Azikwe, Mosque Ohanku, and Osusu roads (ranging from 5-20kilometres). These roads had been impassable for over 20 years. There were many other roads constructed in the hinterlands of the state. During President Olusegun Obasanjo’s visit to Abia State, Kalu was christened “Action Governor” for his giant strides in infrastructure to the admiration of Abians. It is laughable for the current Governor, Chief Okezie Ikeapzu to have claimed that he didn’t meet any single memorable road in Aba when he assumed office in 2015.
Kalu who knows the imperative of an educated population, shortly after assuming office, declared free education from primary to secondary school. University education was equally highly subsidized. Kalu upgraded Abia State University by providing good hostel accommodation for students, generators, conducive lecture rooms, and ensured lecturers and non-teaching staff members of the university and other higher institutions received their salaries timely.
The free mobile health scheme of Kalu’s administration attracted accolades from neighboring states. Indigents in rural areas had access to basic and quality health care and more importantly, primary health centres were constructed and equipped with modern medical equipment. The state government also provided on regular basis drugs to public health centres. Pregnant women in rural communities could access medical care at their doorsteps.
Abia state internal revenue was put at N6m when Kalu took the mantle of leadership. Knowing that the state could not depend largely on federal allocation, Kalu’s administration set out strategies to boost the state’s IGR while blocking leakages and other corrupt practices. IGR grew from N6m to N30m on a monthly basis within Kalu’s first year in office.
Coming from the private sector and coupled with his resolve to rebuild Abia, Kalu realized that for him to achieve his well-articulated goals, he needed to build the capacity of the state workforce. Civil servants were sent on training regularly locally and abroad. Capacity-building programmes were tailored to cover deficiencies in the system. Kalu equally motivated workers by ensuring timely payment of salaries, arrears, and pensions. It is on record that workers received their salaries on or before 27th of every month and the administration never owed salaries, pensions, and arrears. There were also regular promotions of civil servants.
Sports development was key in Kalu’s government. He promoted grassroots sports engagement and development. The story of Enyimba International FC winning the CAF Champions League back to back in 2003 and 2004 is still fresh in the minds of the people.
Kalu fought corruption in the system. Government properties that were sold at ridiculous prices were withdrawn and subsequently, a transparent bidding process for the sale of government properties was adopted. Inflation of contracts which was a norm before Kalu’s assumption of office was eradicated completely due to a well set-up procurement process initiated by Kalu’s administration. It was this initiative that made government detect fraud in the award of contract for the supply of automatic voltage regular to Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) at N47m. Eventually, the contract was cancelled and re-awarded at N7m.
Internal security was also restored during Kalu’s era as Governor. Extra-judicial killings perpetrated by unlawful bodies were eradicated. There was also the regular engagement of stakeholders on security issues. Police officers were also insured during Kalu’s administration as a way of motivating them in the fight against crime and other vices. Townhall meetings were equally held from time to time to promote feedback mechanisms between the government and the governed. The security vote of the Governor was judiciously managed and allocated for security intelligence, insurance of policemen, and other initiatives. Kalu’s achievements as governor of Abia state are enormous and too numerous to mention.
In conclusion, the current administration in Abia state should focus on people-oriented projects that will translate into a better life for the people as against peddling falsehood on the achievements of previous administrations in the state.
Emeka Nwaogu writes from Aba