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Nigeria Masterweb News Report

    Kalu: Next target of PDP grim reapers

    (Sunday, 18th  November, 2001)

    By Dele Sobowale, Vanguard

    "He who speaks without modesty will find it hard to eat his words." ó Chinese Proverb

    GOVERRNOR Orji Kalu needs no Daniel to interprete for him the handwriting on the political wall. After the scalpers in the PDP had collected as trophies the heads of Gemade and Nwodo, the next item on the agenda is how to achieve the political decapitation of Governor Kalu; moreso as the new general secretary of the party is one of Kaluís self-created political foes in Abia State. Right now all the political forces that matter in Abia State and the NEC are anti-Kalu and very soon he might find even the Stateís Assembly infiltrated by his enemies; there might be a move for his impeachment as his deputy governor, never a friend, had deftly allied himself with the powerful forces arrayed against him now.

    It will be a miracle and an act of great magnanimity if his antagonists donít scuttle his first term making a second term impossible. Today, even amongst South-East governors, Kalu has become totally isolated and he can no longer even count on the masses which once idolized him in those heady days when he was the champion of the Igbo Presidency for 2003. Itís a pity because youthful, energetic and purposeful Kalu meant well for his people but over-exuberance, boastfulness and the failure to obtain wider counsel from more matured people has been his undoing. At one point he was not only controversial, he became an insufferable egomaniac believing that he had not only the people of Abia but all Igbos in the palm of his hands. Disaster was waiting round the corner.

    Kalu probably never heard the pieces of advise passed down the ages by wisemen; some of them, if practised, might have cautioned and saved him. For Kalu and for other politicians who might be embarking on the treacherous road he had travelled to his disadvantage let me offer a few.

    First, the Yorubas have a saying: "If you attack a king; you must kill him". When Kalu took on President Obasanjo and became not only highly critical but abusive while asking for the Presidentís resignation, he embarked on a crusade which can only end with the political death of one of them. Every military and marketing (thatís my profession not journalism, please) strategist knows that to assault an entrenched position held by your adversary you must have superior force generally or at the point of engagement. And one doesnít need to have read the Karl ron Clausenwitz (1780 - 1831) classic On War or Sun Tzuís The Art of War, to know that "a victorious army wins its victories before seeking battle; an army destined to defeat fights in the hope of winning", or Marshall Turenneís (1611 - 1675) observation that: "God is always on the side of the big battalions" to know that for Kalu victory was out of the question ab initio. With luck he will achieve matyrdom; without divine intervention he is headed for political oblivion; if not worse.

    And there was again the advice by good old, witty Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900): "A man canít be too careful about his choice of enemies." Kalu had been careless in his choice of enemies: when a young man imitating David, without the assurance of Divine support, takes on the President controlling N430 billion budget and 100,000 top level appointments; two Ministers with combined contract awards totalling N50 billion; the Chairman of NDCC which could have N30 billion per annum to spend while all he has is a state he has declared "broke" and a state where most people would do anything (casting a vote is nothing) for a contract, he should know that these Goliaths will not fall dead. The requiem will be his own; not theirs.

    His last and final hope was in the masses, those immeasurably feeble throng of humanity who are consistent for their inconsistency and who would shout "Hosannah" today and "crucify him" tomorrow. As long as he continued to play the "Igbo President for 2003" tune he had their support even if many of them had doubts about its practicability. A man shouting at the top of his voice claiming that he can move mountains receives the support of those who want the mountain out of the way. He was on sublime heights then and he could have become a 21st century political maverick and untouchable. If he kept it up. He faltered.

    Mrs. Olusegun Obasanjoís visit to Abia State to attend the birthday ceremony of Kaluís mother was the kiss of death. Perhaps out of gratitude; may be because of his youth, Kalu felt like reciprocating the Presidentís good gesture by abandoning, even if slightly, his hardline stand on Igbo Presidency by announcing regard and support for Obasanjo. It was a mistake of monumental proportions; the one for which his opponents were waiting and which astonished his supporters. It was like David dropping his bag containing sling and stones engage Goliath in hand-to-hand combat. Something in Kalu might have convinced him that once he announces support for the President, his enemies will forgive him and his friends will be understanding. He was doubly wrong: the masses he dropped by switching were his shield; his enemies saw before them a defenseless foe. And politics is merciless.

    Sometime in the future, perhaps shortly after a successor is sworn in as the Governor of Abia State, Kalu will think back on all these perhaps with regret that he had sacrificed a brilliant political future on a single issue for which the Igbos were not even ready. A man alone in politics hasnít got a chance. Finally, Governor Kalu, if he chooses to run for re-election will have a serious problem with regard to keeping promises. He had publicly boasted in an interview that he would convince any media person about the positive changes he had brought about in Abia before he declared the State broke. I had accepted his challenge to "come and see" (not come and chop, please). He gave a date which was unsuitable and since then I have been trying to get Kalu to redeem his pledge. No luck.

    Meanwhile, I met someone at the National Stadium who drew my attention to the plight of Eyimba Football Club and the Governorís unfulfilled promise; and in Maiduguri someone else reminded me about a pledge made in the 1980s to UNIMAID. Everywhere I turn people say the same: Kalu does not keep promises. Itís a pity. P.S. This for me closes the chapter on Orji Kalu; I have no joy in post mortems.

    Related Story:  Kalu Back in Trenches, Says Obasanjo Govt Irresponsible

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