A former Attorney General of Abia State, Chief Umeh Kalu SAN has in an open letter addressed to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu titled: “State of Abia: Wake up call on Gov Ikpeazu,” charged the Governor to owe his loyalty to the electorate and not any godfather.
He alleged that Ikpeazu seems to believe he is not responsible to the people of the state, but to his predecessor, Senator Theodore Orji whom he alleged has on several occasions claimed how he made Ikpeazu Governor.
Kalu said that since he left office as Attorney–General in May 2019, he has variously been confronted in both private and public, with the poor and pitiable state of affairs in Abia State.
He said that attempts to put up some defence often fail as he comes out of the exercise looking stupid due to wanting justification for the parlous/pitiable state of affairs in Abia State.
Kalu who served as Attorney General under Ikpeazu said he is not by the letter denying culpability in all the inadequacies and/or shortcomings of the two governments he served in, including Ikpeazu’s.
He said he joins in accepting failure, though with a caveat and equally think that he should join hands with Ikpeazu and other well-meaning Abia people in salvaging the fortunes of Abia State.
He said that the letter is not intended to pass a judgment on Ikpeazu or query how he has handled the affairs of the State and the destinies of the over five million Abia people, graciously entrusted to him by God.
Kalu said that what he has done with the letter is to express his candid view as an Abia citizen, an interested party in the affairs of the State and one who offered service to the State for an uninterrupted period of ten years.
He added that all those who have been in governance in the state, including himself, owe the people of Abia State an explanation as to how they (political leaders) got the State to this sordid state.
Kalu said that as one who had been in government before Ikpeazu’s emergence as Governor in May 2015, he can attest to the fact that Ikpeazu inherited a State that was in distress and dire need of emergency attention.
The legal giant said that those who are objective and truthful know too well that Ikpeazu did not originate the prevalent rot but accepted it gleefully, and, instead of halting the drift, he has sustained it.
He said that the rain of terrible service started to beat Abia torrentially somewhere within the eight (8) years of Ikpeazu’s immediate predecessor, Senator T. A. Orji.
Kalu told Ikpeazu that on his assumption of office in May 2015, he made concerted and spirited efforts to hit the ground running and made a sharp departure from the wastefulness of the past, to the applause of many Abians, including himself.
Kalu said that the sudden cessation of the upward and progressive acceleration of Ikpeazu’s government towards the positive change Abia people desire is bewildering.
The Ex-Attorney-General said that he has no doubt whatsoever of Ikpeazu’s passion for service, as he professes lofty ideas at each given occasion.
He however said that what he finds wanting is the will and ability to implement these ideas, adding that there have been conjectures and speculations at arriving at the reason for lack of will.
“Some think you are acting on instructions, as your predecessors do not want you to outshine them. Some believe you are not in total control of the affairs of the State.
“A lot of people think that the terms and conditions under which you were drafted into the governorship of the State have made it difficult for you to operate maximally.
“All these I must say are in the realm of conjecture. I have however on two occasions listened to your immediate predecessor narrate how he single-handedly made you governor of Abia State.
“First, was at the grand reception organized in his honour by an Ukwa – Ngwa socio-cultural group, that was held at Ngwa High School, Aba, while the other was at another event organized by a Bende Union at the old Umuahia market arena.
“At both events, your predecessor stated that you almost fell off from your chair when he told you in the presence of his wife and your wife for the first time that you were going to be the next governor of Abia State. On each of these occasions, there was loud applause for him by the undiscerning crowd of people at both events,” he said.
Kalu also said that as an individual, he was shocked by that analogy, as he considered those statements from Senator T. A Orji as a great disservice to God and the Abia State electorate.
He said that the former Governor’s exposition as undesirable as it was had its purpose; which was to drive home the point that Ikpeazu was not expecting to mount such high an office, but that he made it possible.
He reminded Ikpeazu that some past governors in other States have ventured unsuccessfully to impose successors in their States, adding that he likens Ikpeazu’s emergence as governor of Abia State in 2015 to the emergence of the Biblical Esther in the Palace of King Ahasuerus.
“Esther was divinely situated in the Palace of King Ahasuerus to deliver the Israelites from persecution. So were you positioned in Abia State to change our story and place the State on the path of sustainable growth?”
He urged Ikpeazu to come out of the belief that his predecessor made him Governor stressing that Abia elders had long come to an agreement that the governorship seat of the State should shift to the Ukwa–Ngwa axis in 2015 after T. A. Orji’s tenure.
Kalu told Ikpeazu that the making of a governor is not an event but a process. He told Ikpeazu that his immediate predecessor and few persons around him may have initiated the process for reasons best known to them, but God saw him through the process and unto its realization.
“The Scriptures have it that Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the increase. Recall even, that you were twice removed as the governor by the Courts. Firstly, at the Court of Appeal at Owerri and secondly by Justice Okon Abang at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“At these crucial moments, your predecessor was already out of the equation and had absolutely nothing to do with the reversal of the Court judgments. God used other persons to see you through those dire moments.
“I relay all these things because it does seem obvious that you are so fixated on one or two persons who claim to have made you governor and as such will not disobey or harm their interests.”
Kalu said that while he will not endorse ingratitude, he, however, warned that the idea of unalloyed blind loyalty to an individual to show gratitude has the innate capacity of eroding one’s sense of judgment, performance and capacity to deliver on the arduous task of governance.
He said he does not and will never believe that T. A. Orji and/or members of his family made Ikpeazu governor, adding that it was God who did it, as his predecessor (T. A. Orji) and members of his family were only tools in the mighty hand of God.
“I have devoted some time to the issue of your predecessor’s claim of making you governor, as it does seem to me that therein lies your reluctance to depart from the past and effect the needed positive change in our State.
“The moment you accept that God and only God made you governor of Abia and that you are answerable to God alone and to no mortal being in whatever name called, then will you commence your journey of the redemption of Abia.”
Reacting to Kalu’s letter, Jude Ndukwe, the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Hon. Chinedu Orji accused Kalu of being among an aggrieved gang of politicians who are bent on pulling the government down.
He alleged that there are former government officials who were booted out of office due to gross incompetence, redundancy and or crass ineptitude resulting from over-stay in a particular office in government who have decided to use all in their arsenals to pull the government down.
According to him, the latest action from the “Gang of the Aggrieved” Kalu’s “Open Letter” Ikpeazu reeks of a vicious underlying intention to upstage the peaceful political atmosphere the state is enjoying by vigorously but vainly trying to plant seeds of discord in the polity.
Ndukwe said that such plots will continue to fail as their targets are well aware of the antics of this gang of aggrieved persons who have turned emergency crusaders because they were rightly eased off the system.
“Or how else can one explain that Umeh Kalu who was in office as Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the State for ten unbroken years, spanning over two administrations, would be the same person penning an open letter bitterly denigrating those same administrations with such bitterness without even a modicum of decency to give credit to them even if only for appointing him to serve for that long?
“One of the targets of Umeh’s letter to the Governor of Abia State is the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji and the Ochendo family (T. A. Orji’s family).”
He alleged that Kalu is still carrying the pains of not being supported by the speaker to become Deputy Governor of Abia State after expecting to run on a joint ticket with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
“With the benefit of hindsight, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji was right in pitching his tent with Rt. Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu, the current Deputy Governor rather than with a cantankerous element like Umeh who will not mind pulling a government down simply because he was asked to step down from such an exalted office after ten whopping years to give room for somebody else to serve.
“Should a similar opportunity present itself again, the Abia Speaker will still choose Rt Hon Ude Oko Chukwu over Umeh without any qualms or apologies. This is the crux of Umeh’s petitions against the Ochendo family.
“If he was serving as Deputy Governor, would he have written any such letter? The obvious answer is no! So, his intentions are far from pristine but laced with puerile vengeance and bitterness.
“The Speaker cannot turn back the hand of the clock to influence the nomination of Umeh as Deputy to the current Governor.
“The Speaker has since moved on and does not owe Umeh Kalu any iota of apology and will not transfer any popularity to him. Umeh should move on and concentrate on criticising government objectively while he continues his endless nocturnal meetings of the gang of the aggrieved.”
Governor Ikpeazu through his Chief Press Secretary, Onyebuchi Ememanka said that his boss will not engage in any public exchange with any of his appointees, former or serving as it will be disingenuous and inexpedient, administratively and politically, to do so.
Ememanka said that if Kalu was truly desirous of passing any information or concerns to a Governor who found him fit and proper to serve as Chief Law Officer of the State for the entire first tenure of his administration, he sure knows the proper channels to use.
He said that it is preposterous for Kalu as a man who served as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice for 10 out of the last 14 years, under two consecutive administrations, and with a perfect understanding of the political and administrative environment to claim that “he is told that the Governor no longer reads sealed letters.
He said that Kalu neither discloses who told him such “tales by moonlight” nor the basis for his belief in such a story. He said that Kalu did not also disclose if he made any attempt at all to reach Ikpeazu and failed.
Ememanka went further to say that even an average final year law undergraduate knows that weighty decisions, such as this, should not be taken based on hearsay evidence, let alone a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“Chief Kalu is well within his rights to choose to engage in publicity stunts but he should be assured that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu will not join him in such absurd displays.
“As 2023 draws near, different individuals with different political ambitions will adopt different kinds of strategies to announce themselves into the political arena.
“Finally, Governor Ikpeazu assures the people of Abia State that he will remain relentless in the discharge of his responsibilities until his last day in office, and will not be distracted by needless publicity stunts.”