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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Orji Uzor Kalu: The Hidden Reasons Why I Knew PDP Would Lose 2015 (READ)

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by Orji Uzor Kalu

There were many interesting things that happened that gave the just-concluded elections the hype it has enjoyed, particularly as it concerns the roles some persons played before, during or after it. Cu­riously, and sadly too, some of these things have been interpreted in diverse ways – depending on how each person sees or understands it. However, the interpretations given to some of these things have been twisted by politicians to suit their idiosyncrasies.

It is to set the records straight that I have decided to do this piece.

Let me quickly state that I think I am one of the single most misunderstood persons as far as Nigeria’s politics is concerned. Though this is for some inexplicable rea­sons! I am certain many Nigerians did not know some of the things I have mentioned here. Nevertheless, I decided to reveal them in order to correct some erroneous and malicious imputations some mischief-makers have made to achieve cheap politi­cal points.

Some people have even asked why I de­cided to stick to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) when I knew that the party was likely to lose the 2015 elections. They make this allusion referring to the report of a nationwide consultative tour I embarked upon long before the 2015 general elec­tions, which has raised much dust since it was released. There was also another issue bothering on the illogicality and lack of wisdom of the decision of PDP to throw its weight behind some candidates whose in­tegrity and capacity to deliver were clearly in doubt.

I will treat each one of these points in de­tail shortly. But permit me to quickly state, though unequivocally, that the PDP lost the 2015 elections out of sheer greed and lack of maturity and teamwork. Anybody who has been reading the articles in this column will attest to the fact that I had always ex­pressed indignation over the way the party was being administered, especially after its contentious primaries. I am certain I drew attention to the daylight robbery that took place in Abia State where it was evident that the governor, Chief T.A. Orji, had lost every credibility, integrity and trust among the people of the state. Even within PDP in Abia State he is seen largely as a destroyer, and not a builder, because of the hatred and division he has stirred in the party.

I have always given reasons the gover­nor would likely lead the party to doom in his morbid desire to control the party for his selfish interest. Forget all the shenani­gans involving the governor and his son, PDP was doomed in Abia State, if not the entire South east geopolitical zone, many months before the general elections. This is a matter for detailed discussion in future.

Let me state at this juncture, that contrary to the insinuations in some quarters, I nev­er conducted the nationwide tour I referred above on behalf of any political party, in­dividual or any business organization, for that matter. The tour was strictly commis­sioned by a US based Non-Governmental Organization {(NGO) which name I would not want to mention here}, which advises the government of the United States, the President of the United States, the US State Department and several other agen­cies connected to it.

The tour in question opened my eyes to some of the complexities of our socio-political system, including the challenges the various political parties in the country faced in the 2015 general elections. In the report, it was clearly stated that the PDP was going to lose the general elections and that President Goodluck Jonathan, if at all he was going to win, would do so with a very slim margin. The report also identi­fied those states PDP was going to lose. They included Ogun, Osun, Lagos, and almost all the states in the north, etc. For Ondo, I declared that PDP was going to fight the battle of its life to win it. And that was what happened.

Some of the reasons adduced by the re­port for the likely abysmal performance of PDP included lack of internal democracy, disenchantment among many Nigerians who were unmistakably desirous of change and the half-hearted attitude of some lead­ing PDP stalwarts who said one thing and did exactly another.

The report, which was submitted to the Presidency, the leaderships of PDP and APC, was shabbily treated by its recipi­ents. Why they behaved the way they did was best known to them. For me, I thought I was discharging my patriotic duty by drawing attention to the calamity that lay ahead. In fact, the leadership of PDP in­terpreted the report as confrontational and in bad taste. Some of them questioned my loyalty as they had expected me to state in the report that PDP was going to sweep the polls when it was evident it lacked the co­hesion and solidarity to do so. This proba­bly accounted for their gang-up against me to deny me the ticket in my quest for the Abia North Senatorial seat under PDP. It was after their ill-treatment that I opted to switch to PPA in the eleventh hour.

Let me point out, however, that there has never been any remarkable difference be­tween PDP and PPA in every ramification. This accounted for the unanimous decision of the party to adopt President Goodluck Jonathan as its sole presidential candi­date. And there are no regrets for doing so. Therefore, those who misinterpreted my intentions to stand for elections in PPA did so either out of malice or sheer ignorance.

It was painful that instead of the leader­ship of PDP using the report I gave to them to work to change the tide they embarked on unnecessary rigmarole and witch-hunt, which cost it the elections.

The decision to stick to PDP despite the ominous signs that hovered around its head was borne out of principle. For those who know me very well, I am a man of my words. I do not run from one party to another. Check it out: since we formed PDP in 1998 I have remained in the party. I left the party momentarily in 2006 to found the PPA out of sheer inevitability. What did anybody expect me to do when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, without any plausible reason, deregistered me, alongside other eminent Nigerians. We had no other choice than to seek ref­uge in other political parties to realise our political aspirations.

The decision to form the PPA later paid off with the winning of the governorship seats in Abia and Imo. We also won sev­eral seats in some State Houses of Assem­bly, Senate and House of Representatives. The fortunes of the party nevertheless nosedived when those we spent our hard-earned money, energy, time and ingenuity to deliver decided to stab us in the back. There is nobody alive in Nigeria today and who was of age in 2007 that did not witness the betrayal we suffered in the hands of Governor T.A. Orji and his co-travellers.

Today Governor Orji is doing every­thing humanly possible to destroy me, but the God I serve has always scuttled his wicked designs against me. Who does not know that Governor Orji is evil? He told President Jonathan all kinds of lies against me to curry favour. The President being the kind of man he is trusted him. In the end he (TA) betrayed and failed him.

Any time the names of those that con­tributed to the loss of PDP in the 2015 presidential elections are being compiled Governor Orji’s name would occupy a place of notoriety. This is a man whose only interest was how to deliver himself, his son and his entire family during the elections. He cared little about the suc­cess of President Goodluck Jonathan, yet he made the loudest noise about his ability to deliver him. From the result of the elections Governor T.A. Orji got only two votes in his polling booth. The two votes came from his deputy chief of staff and his wife. The rest of his Ibeku people voted massively against him. So, from where did he get the votes to deliver the President?

If truth should told Governor Orji con­tributed to the failure of President Jona­than. We worked out hearts out trying to convince the people to vote for Jonathan. Many Abia voters were against Jonathan because of the non-performance of Gov­ernor Orji.

The outcome of the petitions at the on­going tribunals will open a can of worms about what transpired during the 2015 general elections as the PDP is going to lose more seats in the south east. At least, I am sure that Governor T.A. Orji and his son did not win their elections to the Sen­ate and House of Assembly respectively. They are simply impostors and usurpers who, with time, will be stripped of the mandates they falsely and ignobly parade.

I wonder how Chief T.A. Orji would have the temerity to go about parading himself as a Senator-elect when what he stole belongs to another person. I know his conscience will torment him every day of his life until he abdicates the stolen mandate.

It is a thing of joy that President Jona­than has now realized who his real friends and enemies are. And Governor T.A Orji is definitely one of his morbid foes.

What I expect the shameless governor to do is to bear his cross alone and not drag other people along as he faces the recompense of his actions. The elections in Abia State had been won and lost. It is, therefore, wrong for the governor to create the impression that he was behind anybody’s victory and therefore they must tow his line. My take on the matter is that anybody who felt he won any election in Abia State should chart his own course, and not allow himself to be tied to the apron string of anybody else.

I feel appalled by the blame game go­ing on in PDP currently. Instead of taking stock of its performance in the elections to see areas of improvement it dissipates energy on inanities. Blaming one anoth­er will not solve any problem. Instead it will widen the gap among party members and create animosity between its leader­ship and the various interest groups in the party.

My decision to stick to PDP, as I stated earlier in this piece, even when it was clear the party was going to lose the 2015 general elections was borne out of princi­ple and in obedience to the instruction of Ohaneze Ndigbo that Igbo should support the re-election of President Goodluck Jon­athan. You could recall that the leadership of Ohaneze led by Chief Gary Ighariwey approached me one and half years before the 2015 elections to drop my presidential ambition in support of the re-election of President Jonathan. I gave them my word to obey their directive, and I did. I do not have any regrets for my action.

I have never had any other reason be­ing in politics other than to champion the cause of my people and millions of other Nigerians who are oppressed, and have no voice. I am not in politics for any pecuni­ary gains. It was the same reason that pro­pelled me to seek to represent the people of Abia North in the Senate. It is wicked and malicious, therefore, for anybody to allude to anything in the contrary.

Only God knows when our nation’s pol­ity would be manned by people of integri­ty, whose selflessness and candour cannot be questioned.

The undeniable truth is there was noth­ing PDP could have done to avert defeat in the 2015 general elections since the majority of the people wanted outright change. It is sad that our party bungled the many opportunities that came its way to control the political space of Nigeria for as long as it wished. But they allowed greed and tactlessness to overwhelm them.

The days and months ahead will be rough and bumpy for PDP unless it wears its thinking cap and re-jigs its future. Ni­geria’s socio-political environment gets sophisticated by the day. And this calls for tact and diplomacy.

It has never been my intention to ra­tionalize why certain things that ought to have been done were not done. My atti­tude to life has always been to take each day as it comes. As humans we are bound to make mistakes. That is not a problem in itself. The problem lies in the failure to learn a lesson whenever we falter.

The victory of APC in the elections was purely divine and it is only God that could give such victories. Instead of antagoniz­ing the party or making things difficult for it our party should give it maximum support to enable it to transit smoothly to power.

From east to west, north to south we are all one. Even the differences in tongue and culture should not pose any barrier to our avowed commitment to build a more united and indivisible nation.

Those that fan the members of hate and promote clannishness and religious bigotry should bear in mind that there is strength in unity. The challenges of the 21st Century world demand creativity, togetherness and consensual and strate­gic partnership to build strong institutions on which the continued existence of our country will be predicated.

As an individual I will continue to give my best to the peace, development and progress of Nigeria no matter the price I am made to pay. My little contribution to the political development of our fatherland through the thorough survey I conducted before the elections was one way I felt I could strengthen our political culture and fortify our democracy. Democracy can­not function well in the absence of strong institutions. It is the emergence of these institutions that should be the focus of the political actors and actresses in our nation; not the pandering to sectionalism and eth­nic jingoism that has been the order of the day.

Orji Uzor Kalu is former governor of Abia State, business mogul, and publisher of The Sun, where this article was first published.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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