In 2004 when I visited the current Senate Chief Whip, Dr. Orji Kalu, who was then Governor of Abia State at the Government House in Umuahia, I met him having breakfast with members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) comprising graduates from Nigeria and abroad. To my my surprise, after dining with these young and vibrant youths, Kalu, who was clad in white shirt and black trousers, while exchanging pleasantries with the corpers, shared historic and memorable experience of diverse cultures of virtually all his visitors. I was astounded when the former governor recalled his visit to Argungu, Kebbi State, as a young businessman in his late twenties. Kalu recalled his unforgettable experience at the rich Argungu Fishing Festival and warm hospitality of Argungu people.
To the corper from Osogbo, the Senate chief whip went on to share good memories with a close friend, Mr Ade Olumide, who was a big importer of building materials with his business headquarters in Osogbo. Kalu wouldn’t forget the hot amala, ewedu soup and ogufe (goat meat), a local delicacy, he enjoyed during many of his trips to the ancient city. For Chinaza, Kalu spoke deeply about the culture of the people of Anambra State and Ndigbo in general. Kalu went on and on to share good moments and relationships he had over the years built across the country in reference to the states of origin of the corp members. I was not only thrilled but encouraged to embrace people from all tribes and religious divides after my encounter with Kalu and the corpers.
The former governor’ s action changed my perception about life as I live happily with many of my friends and associates from the North and South – although I am of Enugu origin. Kalu didn’t understand the message he passed to the corp members but I am convinced that these corpers today, must have built friendships and relationships beyond boundaries both in their professionally and socially endeavours.
Hence, in any situation and environment these Nigerians find themselves, I make bold to say that they can never be perpetrators of division rather promoters of unity among all Nigerians regardless of religious and ethnic sentiments. My final world, we are all leaders either in our home, workplace or community, let us sensitise our folks on the subject: Nigeria’s strength lies in our diversity as exemplified by Kalu.
Ugwu writes from Owerri, Imo State