Orji Uzor Kalu, also known as OUK is the former governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007. Before his exit, he worked to see his political platform – the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) emerge victorious in Abia and Imo State.
Although the PPA later suffered monumental political setbacks in the South East orchestrated by the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], the fact that the party that was registered barely one year could achieve such a political milestone of winning two states in the 2007 governorship elections, is a testimony of the political sagacity, acumen and the energetic approach to politics that was brought to bear by the founder (Orji kalu) and his team.
For some inexplicable reasons, OUK who vied to represent his people in the Senate during the 2011 election was manipulated and rigged out by the political machinery of the ruling People’s Democratic Party which was bent on producing all elective positions to score cheap political victory in Abia State.
Unperturbed by this profanity that was carefully couched as hire wire conspiracy, this gentle-man, OUK, has proceeded with his legitimate chain of business activities which he left to contest the governorship position which he won by a landslide in the 1999 election.
But unlike other political aspirants who would either lose at the polls or rigged out and completely go into their cocoon or disappear to do their private business without working to promote peace, democracy and growth of the nation’s economy, Orji Kalu is not one who will turn his back on his country especially during trying moment.
Since losing out to the rigging machine of the ruling party at the center and made to face a Kangaroo anti-graft trial, Orji Kalu has remained a consistent patriot who is unhappy that his country has slide into anarchy, lawlessness, and terror-related violence.
Realizing that the only way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, Orji Kalu has severally proffered workable intellectual and pragmatic panaceas to the challenges of insecurity, poverty and corruption which confront Nigeria.
His latest intervention is his acceptance to mediate in the on-going terror-related killings in the North on the delegation of the federal government to dialogue with the dreaded armed Islamic terrorists – Boko Haram. A self acclaimed commander of the dreaded insurgents had two weeks ago listed some terms of possible truce with the government of Nigeria which included the appointment of former Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari as the head of the team from the Islamic rebels to engage in peace talk with the Nigerian government.
In what is seen by many analysts as a wise decision, General Buhari has turned down the offer in the proposed dialogue. He (Buhari) stated that he does not know any member of the group and that he completely dissociates himself from the murderous terrorism of the group which has claimed several thousands of innocent lives in the last few years.
But in a surprise move, the former Abia State governor who grew up in Maiduguri, Borno State, the hot bed of the on-going religious insurgency has offered to be part of the federal government delegation to dialogue with the insurgents should the Nigerian government accept to enter into dialogue. Most Nigerians are opposed to the peace talk proposal.
The Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka for instance believes that there are no bases legally or morally, for the Nigerian government to dialogue with these same persons responsible for the killings of thousands of innocent Nigerians. Soyinka said negotiating with mass murderers would not end the cycle of violence tearing the country apart. He also suspects that some crooked politicians had a role in Boko Haram’s early rise. Soyinka called the prospect of the government engaging in peace talks with the armed Islamic rebels “abysmal appeasement.”
But the former Abia State governor said his decision to offer his services to bring about lasting peace was because the majority of Nigerians who have lost their lives and livelihood are from the South Eastern part of Nigeria.
There is the need for peace to return to the volatile Northern region. I believe that the federal government has failed to carry out the primary constitutional duty of protecting lives and property by abysmally failing to put to an end to the growing armed violent insurgency in Northern Nigeria.
I believe that any peace regime institutionalized without first and foremost delivering justice to the thousands of persons whose bread winners have been killed by the terrorists will not be sustainable and is inherently unfair, unjust and unconstitutional.
But I do also view the offer of mediation by the former governor of Abia State as historic, salutary and heroic. The federal government is hereby advised to weigh this option comprehensively in the best interest of Nigeria. Government must put an end to all forms of support for terrorism.
In his beautiful book, There Was A Country, Professor Chinua Achebe stated rightly that the federal government is guilty of tolerating terrorism. His words: “Nigeria’s federal government has always tolerated terrorism. For over half a century, the federal government has turned a blind eye to waves of ferocious and savage massacres of its citizens – mainly Christian Southerners; mostly Igbos or indigenes of the Middle Belt; and others-with impunity”. The federal government must demonstrate strong political will to deliver social justice to the thousands of people that have lost their bread winners in the on-going terror-related violence in the North. Any peace without justice to the victims is peace of the graveyard.