The former Abia governor is not waiting till 2015 to begin his campaigns.
Stealthy, or perhaps not quite so, maverick former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, Thursday, crept into Ile Ife, ancestral home of the Yoruba in Osun State, for a hush-hush meeting with the Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuwade, the main goal of which is to lobby the powerful monarch for his presumed 2015 presidential ambition.
In essence, Mr. Kalu has effectively flagged off the 2015 presidential race by covertly jumping the gun.
The meeting, held in the afternoon, saw the former governor arrive with at least 17 aides all dressed in black suit. The meeting was held at the Oba’s palace in Ile-Ife, Osun State. The Ooni of Ife is considered by many to be the number one traditional ruler among the Yoruba’s, one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups.
Mr. Kalu is the leader of a weakened People’s Progressive Alliance whose only governor coming out of the 2007 elections, Theodore Orji of Abia state, defected to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. The Abia governor was a former aide of Mr. Kalu, who helped the former to win the 2007 elections. Both men fell out with each other, after which the governor decamped to the PDP, under whose platform he won his re-election in 2011.
Mr. Kalu told our palace source that the visit to the Oba’s palace was part of a wider consultation with traditional rulers across Nigeria, a preface to his formal declaration for the 2015 presidential elections. Mr. Kalu is apparently not relying on traditional rulers and political leaders alone for his yet to be formally declared ambition. To court the social media community which is growing in political relevance in Nigeria, Mr. Kalu has built a sleek website which he intends to fully utilize, on his formal declaration of interest, for the election. It is still unclear which political party the former governor intends to run under.
String of Failures
In 2007, Mr. Kalu, contested for the presidential election under his party, PPA, and lost. Though a successful businessman, the former governor relied on funds, anti- corruption officials believe was fetched from Abia State accounts. In the 2011 general elections, he also contested his local constituency senatorial seat but lost to his estranged ally, Uche Chukwumerije, who defected to the PDP to win the seat.
Since leaving office in 2007, the Pan-Igbo politician has breezed through several scandals and business failures.
Shortly after leaving office in July 2007, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigned Mr. Kalu before an Abuja High Court on a 107 count charge bordering on money laundering, official corruption and diversion of public funds totaling over N5 billion. The case is still in court. His airline, Slok Air, believed to be a proceed of corruption, was subsequently shut by the EFCC.
In 2010, Mr. Kalu was questioned by the American police after a female friend, believed to be his mistress, died in his U.S home.