BY Obinna Amaechi
It was Peter Drucker who said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”
The quote above perfectly encapsulates character and personality of the man His Excellency, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State who today is marking his glorious, impactful and result-filled 61 years of existence on this planet. For this writer, what is outstandingly notable is not only that he shares April 21st birthday with Distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (Miri Riri Enyi) but he was a beneficiary of the Senator’s people-oriented projects during his tenure as governor, including his free education scheme throughout primary and substantial part of his secondary education, a record which has till date remained unbroken in the history of governance in Abia. He draws inspiration from the sacrificial, purposeful and focused leadership with which Sen. Kalu has proudly written his name in the golden page of our history as a man who came, saw and demonstrated commitment and willpower to leave Abia better than he met it as its helmsman.
Undeniably, Sen. Kalu’s popularity has continued to wax stronger in Abia and Southeast generally 14 years after he left office not on the account of speeches he made or his oratorical erudition but strongly anchored on the number of lives he has touched from his days as number one man in his God’s Own State till now that God has bestowed on him the responsibility of reversing years of locust and self-serving representation the people of Abia North have been visited with. Little wonder the people are left astounded and indeed astonished as to whether a Senator can bring home such basket full of democratic dividends and life-touching initiatives, which for long has remained a mirage.
People of Abia North and indeed the entirety of Abians have always wallowed in age-long assumption that being a Senator or member of House of Representatives is about playing to gallery, living in ostentatious debauchery in Abuja and in total disconnect from the people. All thanks to God the giver of good gifts for a representative like Kalu through whom our consciousness has been aroused and leaders with scintilla of shame put on their toes to offer quality representation to the people so that they can muster the courage to look them eyeball to eyeball someday. Sadly, some Senators who otherwise should be described as ‘ranking’ have used their years at the Red Chamber to feather their nests and advance personal agenda, leaving the people totally disconnected, denied, cheated and impoverished. Barefacedly unperturbed and shamefully so, for lack of further excuses over their record-breaking ineffectual and visionless representation, they have adopted “speech making” and egregious rabble-rousing as their own hallmark for effective representation. After 12 years in the Senate, they don’t have any access road to their community.
At the risk of sounding immodest, when God wants you to feel what it means to have a leader you can count on, a leader who will see your welfare as his core business, a leader who will not live in another world from his people, a leader who looks into your eye and say ‘I’m here to be a solution not a problem’, a leader who sees opportunities where others see obstacles, a leader who sees the people where others see self, a leader who is eager and willing to go the extra mile to right the wrongs of the past, he sends you a leader like Distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. Despite the octopus hitches implanted by the very enemies of the country, which saw Sen. Kalu oscillating between his office in Abuja and the federal high court in Lagos even when he barely settled down to serve his people and his eventual malicious and envy-birthed six months incarceration in Kuje correctional facility, his eye was on a goal he has for long set – to bring smile to communities in and around Abia North through massive infrastructural renewal, economic empowerment as well as advancement of their general security and welfare.
The Creator of the universe who is permanently attracted to the hated and oppressed heard the cry of the poor from across Abia and everywhere else Sen. Kalu has touched lives and eventually, the bearer of their hope was released from a chain that was never his ab initio to the embarrassment of architects of misery. A man green with passion and desire to make a difference, he hit the ground running, making the entire Abia North landscape a construction site. In little above a year in office, Senator Kalu has attracted not fewer than 19 road projects. These projects have further bridged the gap between the rural and urban dwellers, opening up the communities for economic viability and development, giving farmers value for their efforts courtesy of the motorable roads available at their disposal to convey their produce to the market where they are needed more. Added to this is the tendency of these road projects to attract the presence of factories which will, in turn, take our youths out of labour market. That is where Sen. Kalu derives his satisfaction from.
When his colleagues are taking a deserving rest at choice locations within or outside the country each festive period, Sen. Kalu is somewhere in Abia North, either under a scorching sun or heavy rain inspecting projects just to make sure he delivers in the promises he made to his people of changing the narratives. From Isuikwuato to Umunneochi, Arochukwu, Ohafia, Bende, and indeed all the local governments in Abia North, anywhere you step your leg, there must be a legacy project by Sen. Kalu to revive your hope in our governance system. This cannot be extricated from why the people are shielding tears of joy wherever Sen. Kalu steps his foot to inspect projects. He represents hope for them. He conveys joy and healing to their broken hearts. His words breeds comfort. The shout of “Uzor n’aru uzo” which means Uzor the road giant heralds the air and this is what gives him fulfillment.
He breaks ancestral jinx with utter disregard to status quo, constructing potable water systems where the people have never seen one before, mounting roads with asphalt in ancient forests, meeting and surpassing the expectation of those that elected him. In Nkporo, Ohafia local government where the deputy governor hails from, the Senator recently commissioned a 7-kilometer road which cuts across Abiriba, Amurie, Etitiama to Agbaja which is first of its kind. This is in addition to the two motorized borehole expected to be commissioned in the community early next year. With this, the Deputy governor will drink from the well of Sen. Kalu’s visionary representation in addition to the roads he is already enjoying.
While this intervention is grossly inadequate to highlight all that Sen. Kalu has done in a short while, suffice to say that under him, we saw the construction of 8km road with asphalt and drainage at Bende road — Itumbuzor in Bende LGA, provision of motorized borehole each at Amaekpu, Amangwu and Federal Government College Ohafia in Ohafia, Umuobasi, Igbere Secondary School Ezeukwu, Okagbue Item, in Bende and about 25 other communities in Abia North. Under Kalu, we saw the construction of 3 km (2km phase 1 ) rural road with asphalt and drainage at Amaiyi Amaibo in Isiukwuato LGA (chief Obi Chima’s Place). These are aside the hundreds of schools that have been rehabilitated in the constituency under Sen. Kalu’s watch, human capital development projects as well as health centres constructed in Abia North within his short stay in office. As a man of the people, he mixes with them freely, either in Abia, Anambra, Sokoto or anywhere in the country because of the strong bond of unity, love, and tolerance he has built over the years.
Recently, a man who gave his name as Nwata Anayoeze staked N200,000 to know any Senator of the Federal Republic from South East that has exceeded Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s performance in terms of reaching out to constituents. Till date, that has not happened.
I count myself privileged to share my birthday with this eminent and detribalised bridge builder whose acceptance cuts across ethnic and religious considerations in our great country. Given another opportunity, I will love to be born same day with His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.
Your Excellency, God is no doubt preparing you for a higher assignment for our dear country. Happy birthday Sir.
Amaechi, social commentator writes from Abuja