The first thing that would strike any person meeting Theodore Ahamefule Orji for the first time – 16 years ago – was his humble personality. I doubt if he still carries himself with the same simplicity and candour, for which I have known him, now he has tested power as governor. I say so, because power has a way of intoxicating some people, especially those who never dreamed of getting it. I must openly submit that I was taken in by his facial appearance, not knowing that deep inside he was a different person all together – a chameleon. Subsequent events have since proved me right. Up till this moment, I still do not believe that it was the same Theodore Orji, whom I met at Chief Mark Uka Ogwo’s house, that is hauling abuses at me on a daily basis and walking the corridors of power like a colossus. He calls me all kinds of names and uses every available medium to castigate my person.
His speech at every public or private event begins and ends with my name, as if he has no other business in governance other than to abuse Orji Kalu. Not only that: he goes about telling all kinds of naked lies in order to soil my reputation.
He also goes to gossip to the President and his wife about me, telling them unprintable things, just to disfavour me. He tells anybody he encounters – businessmen and women, politicians, the clergy, traders, farmers, drivers, carpenters, bricklayers, the high and mighty, lowly people, and just anybody – that I am his sworn enemy. He also takes his campaign of hate against me to the Diaspora. The situation is really getting out of hand.
The funny part of it is that some of the people he tells lies about me still come back to find out what exactly I had done to the man to make him hate me so much. When I ask them what reason or reasons he gave them for hating me so much, they would say, none. So, what then have I done to Theodore Orji?
I am certain by now the President and others he had lied to against me would have known the truth – that the man is a pathological liar and a usurper. No God-fearing person would go to the level he has gone in seeking vengeance, if indeed I had done any wrong against him.
I had kept quiet all this while in the hope that commonsense would prevail somewhere along the line. Instead of the man minding his constitutional business of governance and thinking about how to better the lives of our traumatised people, whom he has abandoned chasing shadows, he has spent scarce resources fighting me and everybody related to me. There is no single day that passes that he does not use the state government-owned radio and television to pour invectives on me and my relations. Not only that, he has as well been going about concocting all sorts of tales in order to destroy my reputation and create conflict between me and others. To show how heartless the man is, he has even leveled some grievous allegations against me in order to get at me for no justifiable reason.
Is it not sheer wickedness and the height of meanness for him to station his boys at the gates to my houses in Abuja, Lagos and the village to write names of people who visit me and report back to him? He in turn punishes those people. Is that how governance is done? This is a democracy where people have some freedoms, including freedom of association and movement.
Since May 2010, when he chose to part ways with me and others (so it seems), he has never ceased insulting me and doing things that are unimaginable and repulsive – all in a futile attempt to paint me black. Unfortunately, all his gimmicks are not working. Instead he has succeeded in making a mockery of himself and exposing how callous and vindictive he can be.
Indeed, I have been forced some times to do an introspection, trying to find out what exactly I had done against him to warrant such hatred and malice. But after each exercise, I could not lay my hands on anything. The only sin I know I committed against him was that God used me and the good people of Abia State, who believed in me, to make him governor while he was in prison, contrary to the opposition of some close aides, family relations and confidants against his choice. As I wrote last week, there was no sign at all that he would do any of the wicked things he does these days against my person, because he pretended to be a good man when in essence he was a chameleon. He hid many things about himself from me and put up a very pretentious and false personality for the 8 years he served as my Chief of Staff. How he managed to do it without being detected is something only him can tell. All I know is that I trusted him and treated him like an elder brother and confidant.
For the 8 years he worked as my Chief of Staff, I never used a foul language on him or berated him. Rather I treated him with utmost respect and love, even where he had visibly wronged me. I left virtually everything pertaining to the administration of the Government House under his care and direction. He was in charge of almost everything in Government House – from security vote to routine administration. I, working with one of my closest aides then, Victor Oye, and the commissioners, concentrated on policy formulation, key-decision-making and supervision of the ministries. There were no-go areas for him. In fact, he had uninhibited access to my bedroom, my office and every place. Each time he travelled abroad he stayed at my private residences.
I recall with deep pain (because he stabbed me in the back) the day he came to the Governor’s Lodge to see me. I was in the bathroom. Time was 6.30 in the morning. He had come with a letter for my signature. The letter was urgent as the Attorney-General was to travel to Abuja with it first thing in the morning of that fateful day. When my personal aide drew my attention to his presence I asked him to bring him up into my bedroom. When he knocked, I asked him to come straight on to the bathroom, because of the urgency of the letter, not minding that I was naked. I used a dry towel to hold the pen he brought for me to sign the said letter. Before I signed the letter I told him that now that he had seen my nakedness there was nothing else I could keep away from him. I also told him that if he chose in future to betray me there would be nothing else to talk about. He was jolted by my comment and stood fixated for some minutes, barely controlling his shock. I am sure he recalls that statement each moment he goes out of his way to malign me. That is if his conscience pricks him.
There was nothing good I did not do for this man. I gave him his first executive car in life and money to build a befitting house, encouraged him to send his children to good schools, entrusted him with the administration of Government House, including the management of financial resources due to the governor and the Government House. He also rose to the enviable position of director, and later permanent secretary within the same period. I cannot list everything here, because the list is long.
I capped my goodness to him by making him governor (by the grace of God and the unflinching support of our people), while he was in detention at the Kirikiri Minimum Prison, Lagos. As I indicated earlier in this article, many people openly opposed his candidature for the position of governor for many reasons. Somebody – a very close confidant of the governor now – approached me then and warned against making him governor. He gave a very grave reason I should never make him governor. Even the then President Olusegun Obasanjo told me pointblank not to make him governor. He struck a deal with my mother to instead choose one of my younger brothers to succeed me as governor in place of Theodore Orji.
To all the advice, I said no. I told whoever cared to listen then that Chief Theodore Orji would succeed me. The reason I settled for him was simple: I thought I had groomed him sufficiently enough to step into my shoes and continue the good works we had started. If I had wanted somebody that would do my biddings blindly, definitely it would not have been Chief Orji. I would have settled for one of the more docile aspirants. I saw in Chief Orji humaneness, humility, simplicity, resilience and hard work, not the haughty, stiff-necked, abusive and cruel personality he currently showcases.
For those who did not know: we went through hell (figuratively speaking) to make him governor. Imagine somebody in detention, without spending a dime or casting his own vote for himself, becoming governor in a hotly-contested governorship election in a state like Abia! Recall we had to contend with the enormous might of the Federal Government, which had earlier thrown its support behind another candidate. Again, the Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) – the political platform that was used to deliver him as governor – was formed barely four months to the governorship election. So, you can see, he got power on a platter; probably that accounts for the levity with which he holds the office today.
Certainly, if he had spent his personal resources and energy to become governor he would have appreciated the sacrifices we made to make him governor. Today the same party (PPA) and the people who delivered him as governor are his arch enemies. He has done many atrocious things to destroy all of us, but God has been merciful to us.
I have challenged him on a number of occasions to tell the world what really I did to him to warrant such detestable behaviour and enmity towards me. And if in the end I am guilty, I will apologise. I repeat the challenge through this column. Let him go to any national television and tell the whole world what I did to him to make him hate me with such venom. I have wondered why he has suddenly realised that I am such a bad person. Why did he not resign as my Chief of Staff if he knew I was a bad person as he would want Nigerians to believe?
What many people might not have known about the relationship between Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji of Abia State and me until now was how I came to know him. The meeting between us was per chance. Truly, I met him just once at Chief Mark Uka Ogwo’s House. For clarity sake, Chief Ogwo was my kinsman and a former Head of Service of Abia State. He is now late. It was Chief Ogwo who recommended him to me after all entreaties for him (Chief Ogwo) to be my Chief of Staff failed. He turned down the offer because, according to him, he was getting old. He suggested, instead, that I appoint Theodore Orji in his place. True to my promise, I appointed Chief Orji Chief of Staff.
I remember all the promises he made in the presence of Chief Ogwo: how faithful he would be and how ready he was to stand by me, no matter the circumstances. What has happened at last? He has jettisoned everything good he stood for and now wears the garb of wickedness and hatred. How I wish Chief Ogwo were still alive to testify to all this. I know wherever he is he would be full of regrets for recommending such a chameleonic and deceitful person to me.
Did I do anything wrong by telling him to buckle up and deliver the dividends of democracy to our people? This is the grouse he holds about him. But I do not have any regrets whatsoever for telling him the truth. Any meticulous follower of events in Abia State would agree with me that the man has not performed. To show how mischievous he can be he has gone ahead to label some of the projects executed by our administration between 1999 and 2007 as having been done by his own administration. Abians know who did what. He cannot pull the wool over their eyes.
All the evil machinations he has designed against me have continued to fall through. When I told him not to go for a second term, having not performed in his first, he went to town with the story that I held him hostage. He claimed that I was the person responsible for his inability to perform. Between May 2010 and now (since he claimed to have been liberated) what has he done to prove that I was the one that held him hostage? It is still the same story of non-performance. Let us face the facts: let him tell Abians what he has done for them to justify the huge amount he has collected from the federation account. What he runs in Abia is a government of deceit, using intimidation and vendetta to cow people into submission. That was why I drew the attention of the law enforcement agencies to the seething anger of our people who have condoned his excesses for too long.
There is no question that the people’s anger would have boiled over if we had not persuaded them to remain calm. But there is a limit to how much a people can bear. For me, I have nothing to lose by his constant insults on my person. But our people have everything to lose if we all kept silent and allowed the governor to do as he likes. We are honourable people, which was why we had kept quiet all these years believing that one day soon he would change. However, from all indications, there is no sign that he is ready to come down from his high horse. Instead he has continued to acquire new tricks as day breaks.
Right now there is total confusion and frustration in our state. People walk about hopelessly, not knowing what the future holds for them. As if to add insult to injury the governor has polarised the state by ganging up with some PDP members to zone the governorship of our party to Abia South. That negates the principle of equity. What has always been the sentiment of recent is that the governorship position should go to the old Aba Zone (which they now call Ukwa-Ngwa) in 2015. Ukwa-Ngwa comprises 9 local government areas: Isiala-Ngwa North and South, Aba North and South, Osisioma, Obingwa, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East and West. In real sense, there has never been zoning of the governorship slot in Abia State. By zoning the governorship to Abia South he has succeeded in weeding out the heartland of Ukwa-Ngwaland. How could any reasonable person talk of a governor of Ukwa-Ngwa extraction in Abia State without Isiala-Ngwa North and South and Osisioma? This again shows how myopic and selfish the man can be.