In this report, Igbeaku Orji, reports on the giant strides made by former Governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, in ensuring that the people of Abia North Senatorial District enjoy the dividends of democracy through quality representation in the Senate
When the former Governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, declared his intention to represent the people of Abia North Senatorial District at the Red Chambers, many wondered what he wanted from the Senate. They argued that having served as governor for two terms he must have acquired a lifetime wealth and sustenance, therefore, would not need to seek any elective office unless he was materially insatiable. How wrong they were. They thought naively that public office was for material acquisition and personal or selfish ends.
Though many political office seekers and holders have that at the back of their minds, Senator Kalu evidently sought political powers as a means of reaching a greater number of people with life-transforming amenities that only political power enables.
At the last count, 19 road projects facilitated by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu have either been completed as in the case of Atan Ihechiowa, or at various stages of completion. The projects are in exclusion of empowerment programmes in which the beneficiaries went home with sewing machines, electricity generating sets and motorbikes. Unlike the hired crowds that usually attend such events, people came out in spontaneous expression of joy and appreciation to the Senator in Abia North communities where he visited to inspect projects.
It is pertinent to note that while the Senate was on recess, a time when most senators also take their vacation, the Senate Chief Whip was busy inspecting and inaugurating projects he facilitated across the five local government areas of Abia North senatorial district. From Arochukwu to Bende, Umunneochi to Isuikwuato and Ohafia, Senator Kalu has made indelible footprints hitherto unknown in legislative representation. He left no area of critical infrastructural need of the people untouched. Interestingly, the projects are tailored to suit the need of the people.
That is why his rural infrastructure projects cut across electricity, water, school renovation and road, according to the specific needs of the benefiting communities. Wherever he went the encomium reverberated. The question many are asking is, why are other senators not doing the same? In fact, the weekly radio programme, ‘Senator Orji Kalu Speaks, ‘ has become a medium of praise for Senator Kalu. Callers on the programme have forgotten that Kalu is only a Senator for a section of the State. Indeed, the APC Arochkuwu local government area chairman, John Okoro, captured it succinctly during the inauguration of the 2km Atan Ihechiowa road on April 9, 2021.
“Since the local government was created this is the first time the community has seen asphalt road and it is made possible by Orji Uzor Kalu. He started as a Governor. Before now we had a senator who represented us. He told us that a senator does not build road or house. He said he used his personal money to empower people with a frying pan and he did it because Orji Uzor Kalu empowered people with N25,000 cash. Today we have a senator that knows the people’s needs. When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice. He has transformed Abia North with a good network of roads,” he said. The traditional ruler of Atan Ihechiowa community, Eze Francis Okoro, poured his royal blessing profusely on Senator Kalu on behalf of the excited community in appreciation for the road project which he described as first in history. “We have never seen a thing like this before.
Our joy knows no bounds. This is the first time in the history of our village we have seen a road with a black substance. God will bless Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and will do more for us. “ A prominent son of Atan Ihechiowa and chief host at the event, Chief Joe Eze Aru, declared that the story of the actualisation of the road project was simply a product of sincere and loyal politics Senator Kalu found in him.
He reminded the people that the dividend of democracy does not come for anything but the natural result of support and loyalty and urged them to double their support for the senator and APC. According to him, politics is about connecting people to government and attracting development to them. “We have had senators Ike Nwachukwu, Uche Chukwumerije, Mao Ohuabunwa, but we never saw anything like this.” Chief Aru said Kalu as governor made several sons of Ihechiowa commissioners which they have not seen again since he left but has remembered them again as Senator, adding, “We need to support him.” The Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Dr Uche Ogah, was represented at the road commissioning by Prince Ambassador Chris Ogba.
He said he was excited to identify with the uncommon infrastructural transformation facilitated by Senator Kalu in the entire Abia North. “Our senator has proved that life is about service to God and humanity. The projects are verifiable and within six months of commencement this Atan Ihechiowa Road has been completed.”
He prayed that God would strengthen him in the good work. Also, the Director-General of Nigeria Film Corporation, Dr Chidia Maduekwe described Senator Kalu as the architect of good governance. “Today we have people following APC because of OUK. He is the architect of good governance through people refer to me as good governance. What he is doing in Abia North is a continuation of his work as governor, he has not changed. Abia North is blessed to have him as Senator.
“ Former Transition Committee Chairman of Arochukwu Local Government Area, Chief Onii Igbokwe, said he had no regrets about leaving the ruling PDP after attaining such high office because Senator Kalu has an irresistible personality. He said Senator Kalu was the only one who had remembered Ihechiowa as governor and Senator and therefore deserved support.
On behalf of the Atan Ihechiowa community, Chief Enoka Mmeri and Samson Aru said the completion of the road was the beginning of better things ahead. The community said Kalu was a special gift to humanity. They were excited that the Senator kept his word that whether he won or lost the election he would ensure the road is fixed. They appealed to him to extend the road to Okobo and assured of their unflinching support for him and his party. The member representing Arochukwu state constituency, Hon Mike Ukoha expressed joy for what Senator Kalu has done in Arochukwu local government area as a whole and Ihechiowa clan in particular.
“I want to thank the Senator for the road. Arochukwu local government area will continue to support you,” he said. Responding Kalu promised to do more roads in Ihechiowa and the neighbouring Isu clan to provide access to the river so that security agencies would have no difficulty securing the community from the frequent boundary attacks. He disclosed that the Atan road and others were made possible by President Muhammadu Buhari through the project intervention fund.
“When I was governor I did more human development programmes than roads because democracy is about the people,” he said. Kalu said it was regrettable that thuggery marred the Aba North and South Federal constituency by-election which he noted was the reason no development would take place in Aba in the next two years.
“My report card is here in Ihechiowa, Ututu, Arochukwu, Isuikwuato, Ohafia. These are the proud legacies about democracy, not being in the Senate for 16 years without attracting a single road project. Democracy must have an address. Youth and people who accept to be thugs must be ashamed. “When you collect N2000 to be a thug, you should not cry for democracy dividend. What we are doing here today is the address of democracy. Generations to come will see the road. Whoever comes for democracy should come with roads, schools, hospitals, rather than biscuits or N10,000 or indomie, rice. When I was governor were you paying school fees? Were civil servants paid? That’s what democracy is all about,” the Senator said.
Before commissioning the Atan Ihechiowa road, Senator Kalu had inspected ongoing road projects at Abia, Okoni and Isiugwu Ohafia as well as the Uzor Rubber road in Item, Bende local government area. He also inspected the ongoing construction of the Arochukwu township road and a number of renovated classroom blocks across the senatorial district. Nkporo people will remain eternally grateful for the two motorized water borehole projects and road project attracted by Senator Kalu. The overhead tanks would be raised in the next phase. Abia North is exceptionally blessed to have Kalu, a man whose joy and fulfilment is inextricably tied to the happiness of his people, as Senator.