Orji Kalu Plays The Ethnic Game Card



By James Ubadike

Like most Nigerian politicians who resort to playing the ethnic card when cornered in a tight situation, Orji Uzor Kalu, the controversial immediate past governor of Abia State, has now alleged that his new mansion in the highbrow Park View Estate in Ikoyi, Lagos State, has been sealed off by the state Land Use Charge Office, a parastatal of the Ministry of Finance, for his recent public criticism of the government for the relocation of 14 destitute individuals to Anambra State.

Kalu’s residence was sealed off yesterday by the agency for Kalu’s refusal to pay the land use charge after three notices have been sent to him in the last three months.

But in an attempt to give the state government an ethnic colouration, Kalu instructed his publicity consultant, Emeka Obasi to issue a statement on his behalf alleging that the Lagos state government is persecuting him for not only criticizing the government’s relocation of the beggars from Anambra State but also for threatening to sue the authorities after a seven-day notice.

Though Governor Babatunde Fashola directed that Kalu’s eye-popping property be de-sealed on hearing of the action of the parastatal, his special adviser on the media, Hakeem Bello, has dismissed the allegation that the state government is punishing the former governor for the threat to sue the Fashola administration.

Mr Fashola is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, so he is not afraid of law suits”, he said to correspondents last night on the phone. “In fact, litigation is a civilized way of resolving disputes, rather than allowing people to take the law into their hands.”

Bello said that no one who knows Kalu “very well would have taken the threat seriously. He was merely grandstanding just to receive applause from those who do not know him. The only court he goes to is the one in his village of Igbere which he established when he was a governor.

At the end of his so-called ultimatum, he laughably said that he backed down because unnamed Yoruba people were on their knees begging him not to press the so-called charges”.

Bello accused accused the ex governor of playing to the gallery by attempting to rush to the media and shouting victimisation so that he would be projected as a victim of government hard tactics.

But he knows that he is a land use charge defaulter, and the law does not smile at those who deliberately run afoul of it. Let him tell Nigerians how much land charge he has paid after paying hundreds of millions of naira to acquire the building”.

The Park View Estate property is one of the known capital assets acquired by the erstwhile governor since he became the Abia State chief executive in 1999. He moved into the place from his residence on Samuel Adedoyin Street in Victoria Island where he was living before becoming governor.

Kalu’s house in Potomac Park, Maryland, United States, is one of the biggest in this estate which is among the most expensive areas of the United States inhabited by the likes of General Colin Powell, the first African American Secretary of State who also made history when he became the first black to serve as the National Security Adviser under Ronald Reagan and later became the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton.

Kalu put the Potomac Park property on sale last year after his divorcee female friend, Chinwe Masi, died mysteriously in it in August, 2010.

“He had begun to find it pretty difficult to maintain the palatial because money is no longer flowing as it when he was a governor”, disclosed an online report in 2011.

While serving as governor, Kalu established the SLOK Airline but the licence was withdrawn by the aviation authorities after a series of serious sharp practices were discovered.

Kalu shifted the airline to the Gambia but it has since collapsed.

Another major asset he acquired while working as governor is The Sun newspapers based in Lagos. His earlier periodical newspaper which he set up as a private businessman in Apapa before his sojourn into the lucrative Nigerian politics, Every Woman, failed due to poor management and a lack of financial resources.

Though Kalu always asks his spin doctors like Emeka Obasi to cast him in the image of an Igbo fighter for political purposes, he has always opposed popular moves by the Igbo people.

He led the Abia State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) delegates to vote against the former highly respected vice president, Dr Alex Ekwueme, in the PDP primaries in Jos in 1999 and in Abuja in 2003.

In fact, he still boasts of how he donated N100m to General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1998 to ensure Ekwueme’s defeat, even though this was the brightest chance the Igbo had to produce Nigeria’s president since the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970.

Kalu is one of the erstwhile governors standing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for monumental corruption.



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