WANTED: Where is Senator Orji Uzor Kalu?

Beloved JohnJanuary 8, 20246 min

Despite being outspoken and vocal in the 9th assembly and the weeks before the 10th assembly began to function, Senator Kalu has been quiet and less visible in the last six months 

Sen Kalu
Sen. Kalu

In the weeks that preceded the inauguration of the 10th assembly, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia) made headlines owing to his utterances, stance on major political issues, and more importantly, his aspiration for the position of President of the Senate.

Sen. Kalu was considered vibrant in the previous assembly, sponsoring motions, bills and lending his voice to national issues discussed on the floor of parliament. However, following the inauguration of the 10th assembly, the senator has been noticeably silent, barely speaking or making contributions to issues discussed during plenary and other relevant proceedings. 

EFCC travails and imprisonment 

Sen. Kalu had almost always been a media sensation. And it is not because he is a media owner, being the proprietor of the Sun and New Telegraph newspapers. Even in the 9th assembly, he made headlines a few times, especially after his return from Kuje prison. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had a long-drawn prosecution of Kalu over a N7.1bn fraud case. He was arrested for the first time in 2007 after serving two consecutive terms as governor of Abia State between 1999 and 2007. Having lost his immunity, the anti-grant agency moved against him for allegedly abusing his office as governor .

Sen. Kalu stood trial for 12 years alongside Slok Nigeria Ltd, his company, and Udeh Udeogu, who was the director of finance and accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor. It was however while in the Senate in 2019 that he EFCC was able to secure a conviction and was consequently sentenced to 12 years in prison by a high court in Lagos. Things would take a dramatic turn when, in 2020, a Supreme court ordered Kalu’s immediate release from custody after just being incarcerated for five months. He returned to his seat in the senate and made headlines of how he plans to sponsor a prison reform legislation to improve the lots of inmates. That never happened till the end of the 9th assembly in June 2023.

And Kalu wept…

Sen. Kalu, who was the chief whip of the 9th senate, hugged headlines when he got emotional at the valedictory session of the assembly. The controversial politician lost his cool and wept as he narrated how he has been treated politically, especially by those he helped build, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on which platform he served as governor for eight years. He spoke of his recent experiences and broke down in tears, sayng: “Before I came into politics, I could buy anything money can buy. I’m not a thief. Those that put me in prison know the reason. They took over my businesses and wanted to kill me yet I survived it and I’m in the senate with you.

“I have never lacked, while I was in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where I served for two terms as governor, I brought the money that they used in forming that party, every penny, in 1997 and 1998, and I later became a thief. People I gave transport money from my house in Victoria Island became agents. This is what Nigeria represents.  Thank you for giving me these four years of uninterrupted support. This country is not fair.” This action created a media frenzy and a major conversation across social media platforms.

Emilokan of the senate…

Sen. Kalu was a frontline contender for the post of senate president following his reelection into the 10th assembly. The former governor trumpted his support for the APC and investments in the Bola Tinubu presidential as credentials that made him suitable for the top job. More importanly, and like the entitlement mantra of the President during campaigns, the senator insisted that it was his turn to become senate president.

“It is my turn to become the Senate President. If I’m elected Senate President, I will be Team Nigeria. I’m going to work in every corner of Nigeria. I schooled in Maiduguri, Borno State. I started my business in Lagos and spread it across all state capitals. My first name will be Team Nigeria, and my last name will be Team Nigeria. I’m hoping that Nigerians will pray for me to become Senate President because it’s my turn,” he once said.

Senator Kalu lost his bid to be the senate president, and instead, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, who was President Tinubu’s choice, emerged, defeating his closest rival, Sen. Abdulaziz Yari, to the number legislative position of the country. Since then, very little or nothing has been heard of Kalu in the 10th senate. Not even when he was named by dismissed Sen. Elisha Abbo as among five senators targeted for removal from the senate on account of their opposition to Akpabio’s emergence.  

The question on the lips of political observers is why has Senate Orji Uzor Kalu surrounded himself with a wall of silence in the first 6 months of the 10th senate?

STAR  Check: Nigerians and his constituents can keep tab on the legislative performance of Sen. Kalu in the 10th Senate here

Beloved John

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