The Sun News

Kalu’s political arithmetic

By Carl Umegboro

FORMER governor of Abia State and founder of the Peoples Progressives Alliance (PPA), Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, recently joined the national ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC). He anchored his decision on the collective interest of the South-East geo-political zone vis-à-vis the gross sidelining it has experienced under the Nigerian project.

Kalu apparently believes that since elections are over, astute leaders ought to sacrificially do realignments towards actualizing some set goals.  Indisputably, all the political parties in the country are so far identical in terms of manifestoes and ideologies, and therefore, defections are mostly myths.  Nothing apparently changes as the parties have similar modus operandi. Nonetheless, a political leader at any given time, as the baton is presently held by President Muhammadu Buhari, determines the direction of the society. If the leader sees the nation as no-man’s land, government will be encircled by political contractors.

Thus, democracy as a game triumphs on political calculations and schemings. Apart from the deceased former Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, who explicitly espoused the political arithmetic formula, a former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, embraced the philosophy and it worked excellently for him. As the governor under the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Obi saw things beyond party identity. He penetrated and maintained an outstanding relationship with the then President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).

Certainly, Obi understood clearly that the purpose of political delineation is merely for the contest, and therefore did not take it to the extreme after elections. Despite his natural low voice, he maneuvered his way powerfully, winning the heart of the president even though from an opposition political party. He could have been endorsed as best-man if Jonathan and Patience were to renew marital vows while in office, amidst PDP governors, ministers, even though he was from the opposition.

What is the use of shouting, racketeering or yelling like motor-park touts when these may not make one’s voice heard, as seen among some governors in the name of opposition? What can make a difference are well thought out calculations and diplomacy. Obi utilized his relationship and communication skills, knowing that as a state governor, he could not operate meaningfully in isolation from the central government.

Obi, albeit APGA leader then, prioritized the mandate entrusted in him by Anambra people, and blithely played party politics, thus, getting the president and all the support he needed to deliver, and indeed conquered. Certainly, by his closeness to Jonathan, one or two of his recommendations must have been considered even as a member of an opposition party. That’s leadership par excellence; reigning in the camp of the opposition.

Weighing the reasons adduced by Orji Kalu for his defection, his move to the ruling party was largely a desideratum as it affords him enormous opportunities to relate closely with the present leadership towards a paradigm shift from the marginalization which has become synonymous wiath the South-East geo-political zone over the years. Good political know-how awesomely supports dynamism, flexibility and adjustments at critical times for achieving uncommon goals. Politics is more a game for dribblers than conservatives. Opposition, as allowed in a democracy, ought to be centered on issues and policies instead of over-enthroning partisanship at the expense of governance and service delivery. To endlessly bark and roar along political lines when governance should be a priority is the height of naivety. It is indicative of vacuity of ideas and diversionary tactics.

Without a doubt, opposition is an essential element of democracy but that should be left to the political parties. In fact, once inauguration takes place after elections, any elected office-holder that obstinately plays partisan politics is an amateur. An oath of office signals the mantle of leadership of a state or country, and not of a political party. Any leader elected in error without a concrete blueprint will end up with endless commotion for cover-ups. Constructive opposition connotes proffering practicable solutions to problems and not being alarmists.

As Kalu integrates with the ruling party now as one of its chieftains from the South-East, his voice will no longer be heard from outside but as one engaged in a family deliberation. His opinions, at least on the marginalization of the zone as well as ideas on how to move sports in the country to another level, will count. No one can query Kalu’s remarkable exploits in sports, which led to the revival of the State’s football team. Thus, he has something good to contribute.

Above all, for the South-East to receive exceptional attention, political arithmetic is inevitable. Democracy allows the majority to have their way while the minorities have their say. People of the South-East geo-political zone cannot be comfortable to have just their say in the Nigerian project. They need to have their way as a major ethnic nationality.

Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and publisher

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