1. Adolphus Wabara was Nigeria’s senate president between June 2003 and April 2005. In the national order of protocol, he was the No. 3 man, only behind the president and his vice.
2. Orji Kalu was the governor of Abia state between May 1999 and May 2007. For those eight long years, he was the most powerful man in Abia state politics.
3. As the senate president, Senator Wabara was the leader of the national assembly, the first amongst equals, the man on whose table every legislative initiative and debate ends.
4. Orji Kalu at a point was the leader of the south east governor’s forum. In this capacity, he was the go-to man on high stake politics and consultation in Igboland.
5. When Senator Wabara was the senate president, he built contact with the other 108 senators from all over Nigeria and a good number of the 360 members of the House of Reps.
6. Both Orji Kalu and Wabara at the time were leading members of the Peoples Democratic Party- PDP, the dominant political party in the land at the time.
7. Both men reached very high points in their political careers, they had the world at their feet, they achieved what many more talented, richer and more adroit politicians fought long and hard for but still failed to achieve.
8. They had the opportunity to write their names in gold in the annals of Abia’s politics and history, they would have earned immortality through their works and vision.
9. But what did both men do with the rare opportunity handed them by fortune? Well, I would draw a perspective on this so you make your independent assessment.
10. If you hear or read about Mr Orji Kalu in the news today, it would likely be about one or two things- labouring to gain the favour of Mr Buhari and the APC hierarchy or engaged in a shadow boxing contest with so many politicians who in his prime would have queued up to have a handshake with him (Kalu).
11. He recently admitted to being an accessory to political assassination during his days in the PDP when things don’t go his/their way. He has also been involved in cold war with Mr Rochas Okorocha of Imo state over who shall pick a putative APC presidential ticket in 2023.
12. Senator Wabara on his part has gone largely anonymous, a forgotten man if you ask me. Perhaps I should ask you- when was the last time you saw him on TV? When last did you see him on the front pages of newspapers? When last did you see him at a public function where the interest of his community was on the top agenda?
13. Is it not embarrassing that this man who reached very highpoint in the nation’s politics recently turned himself into a champion of Kporakpo politics, disrupting the entrenched merit system at Abia state University Uturu where he is pro chancellor, creating ethnic tension in the academic community and in the most debased manner, acting as an errand boy for some ethnic brigands in a university community?
14. What is Adolphus Wabara’s legacy? What did people of his native Ukwa benefit from his eight longs years in the Nigerian senate? How many Ukwa sons and daughter rode on his back to achieve career or political or business success?
15. You would have thought that a man who attained the height he did would be a major stakeholder in the nation’s politics, providing guidance and support to younger politicians, intervening on critical national issues and acting as a strong bulwark against impunity.
16. I may be wrong but it does appear that is pettiness ingrained in the DNA of most Abia politicians. They become way too irrelevant soon after they vacate whatever office they occupy.
17. Who still remembers Senators Chris Adighije, Nkechi Wogu, Bob Nwannunnu, Messrs Onyema Ugochukwu, Emeka Wogu, Vincent Ogbulafor and so many other who headed government offices in the not-too-distant past? How many Abia sons and daughters did they lift? What did they attract to their native communities?
18. Compare Abia politicians with their counterparts from other states like say Peter Obi, Ike Ekweremadu, Sam Egwu, Chuba Okadigbo (late), Ben Obi and other former office holders who continue to command respect wherever they go.
19. The last time Peter Obi spoke on the Platform- I think in 2016 or so, his speech grossed millions of views on Youtube in less than 24hours. Just last week, Peter Obi was on TV baring his mind on a few national issues, the ideas raised by the former Anambra governor are still resonating in the polity today, his speech at the Platform on Independence Day was a major topic of discussion for months.
20. It’s possible Senator Wabara faded away because he had no value to the polity and had to survive by running errands for Mr Okezie Ikpeazu? Orji Kalu made a mess of his long moment in the sun and an opportunity for ammendation may never come his way again.
21. Are there lessons in this for today’s office holders? Of course they are many but I will just list out a few.
22. You will not stay at the top forever, one day you will have to exit the office. Make the most of your time in office in the service of the people, care genuinely about them, deploy the resources available to your office to lift the people, build partnerships with those in the public and private sectors and see that you get the best deals for your people.
23. It all boils down to value. What value are you creating today? Will they outlive you tomorrow when you are no more? How many people are you genuinely lifting? How many people get relief when they run to you for assistance? How do you relate with the ordinary folks when you find yourself at the top? Think about this.
24. Till date, Dee Sam Mbakwe is still being used as a yardstick for assessing the performance of governors in the whole of Igboland. Many of us have not been born when Mazi Mbakwe was deposed by Buhari and his men in jackboot. Almost 40 years after Sam, no one has come close to making the impact he made in only 4 years.
25. If Orji Kalu and Adolph Wabara offer us any value, it is the understanding that one can climb the Iroko tree and still fail to gather firewood and as we all know, you don’t get the opportunity to climb the Iroko tree everyday. Messrs Wabara and Kalu’s biggest values lie in being object of censure, the bad examples we point current and future leaders never to emulate.
Thanks for reading today again. May God bless and keep you all. Please in whatever capacity you find yourself, there is a whole lot of good you can do. Do not wait until you become a political office holder, do whatever you can from wherever you are, with whatever is available to you. By Dodo Okafor
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