By Chidi Ogudiegwu
Overtime, I have heard some self-acclaimed political pundits, especially of Abia extraction, come hard on the person of Honourable Mascot Ụzọr Kalu ever since he started nursing an ambition to represent the people of Aba North and Aba South constituency at the National Assembly. Listening to these people on the radio during the campaign period prior to the 2019 general elections and reading their opinions on social media platforms, one begins to wonder what exactly they hold against Mascot aside from hateful antecedents against his family and the political party he belongs. Up till today, I’m yet to hear or read any of these people come up with any cogent reason as to why Mascot is not good enough to represent his constituency. All I see is a recycling of the old stories we are already used to. Here are some notable critical points:
1. APC is northern party. They will allow Fulani herdsmen in our territory:
Really? If APC is a northern party, how come some people in the south east won elections under the same platform even when the party was newly formed? Chris Ngige won the senate in Anambra using APC. Today, Abia and Imo have senators who are products of APC. How come there was no record of Fulani herdsmen in Imo under Rochas Okorocha as APC governor, while we had similar records of same in Abia, Ebonyi, and Anambra that are not governed by APC people? Who are the governors that formed Amotekun to curtail the onslaught of Fulani herdsmen in the South-west? Are they not APC governors?
Truth is there is no political affiliation with Fulani herdsmen in any state. The menace they constitute cuts across all boundaries of Nigeria. It takes only a determined will by a political leader to stop the onslaught.
2. His brother laid the foundation for bad governance in Abia:
I really don’t want to dissipate energy on Distinguished Senator Orji Ụzọ Kalu as he is not the major subject of this article. But it is imperative to give little attention to his personality as critics have refused to detach him from his younger brother, Mascot.
It won’t be expedient of me to paint Orji Kalu a saint as I have never had direct contact with him, neither will I vilify him, as I have never seen any mortal leader anywhere in the world without shortcomings. The major level-headed way to assess a leader is by comparing him with his counterparts elsewhere or those before or after him. But since Orji Ụzọ Kalu has left the seat of power about 14 years ago and Abia has had two other governors after him, can these critics tell us how his successors have done better than him? I was not in Abia when Kalu was the governor, but the stories I have heard from most politically-neutral residents prove that Kalu stands tall compared with those after him.
There was a time I visited Umuahia in a commercial cab. That was about ten years ago. Having noticed that almost all the roads in the state capital were narrow, I asked the cab driver why the roads were not expanded by the government. In response, he said Orji Kalu had the opportunity to expand the roads, but he didn’t have the mind to demolish people’s houses. Of course, demolishing houses ought to attract compensations for the owners, but with limited resources in the state and the need to save cost, he considered the would-be plight of the house owners and by extension, the residents, over road expansion.
From the story, I could only fathom a compassionate and very humane figure in the person of Orji Kalu. I’m still expecting Orji Kalu’s critics to tell us how he is the worst thing that has ever happened to Abia. As far as I know, the plights of Abia public workers under OUK were not as bad as it was under the administration of T.A Orji. Their situation is worse presently (I stand to be corrected). Just less than two years old as a senator, OUK has surpassed all those before him in Abia put together since 1999, in terms of physical constituency projects (I still stand to be corrected). How bad was Aba when OUK was the governor and how is it today? Can we put sentiments by the side and be truthful for once?
In as much as this point of criticism does not hold water, the conceptual meaning of “foundation” here is what appears unfathomable. This is the most laughable point of attack I have ever heard since I started developing an interest in politics. Let’s even assume that these critics are correct, does the so-called foundation entrap his successors from doing better than him? The last I checked, these so-called loyalists have fallen out with Orji Uzor Kalu for many years now. Is it not funny that these same people who attack Mascot simply for an unfounded sin of his brothers are the same people supporting those after him who are in no way better than him? Why is it so difficult for his successors, now enemies and oppositions, to collapse the building with a faulty foundation and erect a better one.
Abịa was not worse than Anambra before Chris Ngige came in as governor. Ngige was a product of a cabal that never meant well for Anambra, but how did Anambra fair as a state after he fell out with his godfathers? Since these people, Orji Kalu brought in have fallen out with their “godfather”, what has stopped them from transforming the state. Let’s still assume that Mascot has a bad person as a brother, have we not seen or heard of tales of siblings with different character traits? I have seen true men of God who have notorious criminals as siblings. I have also seen great native doctors give birth to sons who ended up as great pastors.
3. His brother represented the constituency in time past:
This is not only laughable, but lame. Nigeria adopted the United States of America system of democracy, and if America is our role model, it is time these critics shut their mouths. Since John F Kennedy died having ruled America many decades ago, his children had been in government and his grandchildren are today serving in different capacities in American government. The Bush family is still fresh in our memories where both father and son won elections to become US president at different times. At the home front here, the Saraki family of Kwara has always been in the helms of affairs from time immemorial. Some families are like that all over the world. You just can’t detach politics from them. Those who come up with this point in the name of criticism only do so out of sheer bitterness and jealousy. It is no fault of Mascot that he was born into such a family. It is akin to being born into royalty. You have no choice but to live with it.
4. How can we have two siblings at the National Assembly at the same time?:
Ignorance is truly a reproach. The only justice I will do to this is to educate critics of Mascot. I will not stress them into going through deep research as there are many hundreds of incidents where two, three, four or more members of a family had represented their people at a particular time. We have the most recent one where Sri Lanka’s newly elected president, Rajapaksa swore in his elder brother, as prime minister, cementing the powerful family’s political comeback. You have to be a member of parliament through popular votes before you can ascend to become a prime minister. The younger brother was not handpicked to become a parliamentarian. He was elected, yes elected.
In Britain, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had a brother, Jo Johnson, who was a member of the UK’s House of Commons the same time Boris too was a member. The younger Johnson recently resigned as a member of parliament due to personal reasons. In the US state of Alabama, two sisters are currently in the bench of Montgomery County. These are nascent situations. At the home front here in Abia, we have a senator whose son is the speaker of the state’s House of Assembly. Let’s not go deep into time past, please.
UNTOLD TRUTHS ABOUT MASCOT:
Before I get crucified as a paid agent of Mascot or anybody, I want to make it clear that I was not induced to put up this article. A lot of people who know me in person and those who follow me on social media know I am a man of honour. I don’t belong to any political party, neither am I a firm promoter of any candidate. I followed late Prestige Ossy in his lifetime. I helped promote his image simply because he was a good man. My article is simply informed by some unfounded lies against an innocent man. The only thing I knew about Mascot before I met him in person in 2018 is him being a former chief of staff to a former governor of the state. Since I met him, I have carried out independent investigations about him and his MUK foundation and realized that he is simply a man with the heart of gold. He is very accessible to people irrespective of social status. He is his own man living in his own world. To the best of my knowledge, Mascot has raised numerous families out of poverty through his foundation. He has empowered some youths and numerous widow’s in Aba.
Any doubting Thomas can carry out an investigation on this, then come back to prove me wrong. Even his loss at the previous election did not stop him from doing his good deeds to people.
Prestige Ossy has done his best and he actually represented the people well. I don’t follow political parties, I only follow good people, and Mascot is one. Among those aspiring to replace Ossy at the National Assembly, Mascot is the only one who has gone through the electioneering terrain. With every sense of confidence, I am assuring Aba people that Mascot will deliver if given the opportunity to represent them. People like him end up disappointing his critics who are only waiting for him to fail. I urge Aba people to give Mascot the litmus test in the remaining two years left before the next general elections. If he fails to deliver, 2023 is around the corner.
Chidi Ogudiegwu is an Aba-based political scientist, public analyst, and conscience writer. He is a former News Editor of Rhema Radio Aba.
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