In 2016, when former Governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu officially joined the APC, he said that it was due to family pressure and that his mother Eunice and some of his siblings were in close relationship with APC. But many political analysts sneered at him, insisting that he joined the APC to avoid comeuppance of the lawsuits filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the time. Others implied that it was a strategic move to increase his chances of becoming the first Igbo president in Nigeria.
The former governor of Abia failed to run for presidency in 2015, and there are speculations that he may throw his hat in the ring in 2023. In fact, various groups have sprung up across the country to “persuade” him to become president. He is considered one of the best in Nigeria, although he has not yet announced his wish to run for public office.
Surprisingly, Orji Kalu has received a lot of support from the north, including groups such as the Coalition of Northern Nigerian Youth (CNNY) and the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum.
The former governor of Abia State spent most of his adult life in the north. He was a student of the famous Barewa College in Zaria. Many northern elites attended the same school, and from there he went to University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) where he played a key role in the student activism. This allowed him to be completely immersed in the cultural traditions and basic politics of the North. From the perspective of the North’s emphasis on true friendship, Kalu is a good “poster-boy”.
As an end result of his years in Northern Nigeria and his enterprises within that locality; Kalu has made many Northern allies (many of whom he schooled and grew up with). It is safe to say that the North feels secure with Kalu.
But whilst Orji Kalu can be famous within the North, the equal can’t be said of him in the South East. The average Igbo man views Orji Kalu as a key member of the political hegemony that underdeveloped and impoverished the region.
Under his leadership as governor, Abia State literally became the ‘land of disrepair’. Most of the roads became dilapidated, the streets where littered with refuse and unemployment was rife.
Will the votes of the North be enough to secure Kalu’s presidency? Time will tell.