For former Governor of Abia State, the 12-year legal battle came to an unexpected end on Thursday in Lagos. From the Senate to the prison, that is the story of one of the most prominent of the political gladiators in Nigeria.
Let us view Orji Uzor Kalu from the robustness of his most current profiles. A potential presidential candidate, a senator of the Federal Republic, a Chief Whip of the nation’s hallowed chambers. The status obviously makes this conviction one of the most sensational in recent times.
The jail term speaks of so many interpretations. First, Kalu joins two other former governors who have been in jail over diversion of state funds for personal uses and despite long and unwinding trails, twists and turns, still eventually got their dues and are currently serving out their jail terms.
Former Governors Jolly Nyame of Taraba state and former Joshua Dariye of Plateau would be the first set of governors to be slammed different jail terms under what is considered to be the renewed statements of the present administration on its anti-corruption crusade.
Of course, such sentences have come to establish the fact that no matter your status, you are not going to be above the laws of the land for eternity and even if the trials are made to suffer years of delay, judgment would still be served and be seen to be served.
With a government that rode on the back of anti-graft campaigns to be accepted, its thus illustrates the fact that Nigerians admit that a huge chunk of the national headaches are caused by the unbridled and insatiable crave for wealth at the dangerous expense of the toiling masses.
People get elected to positions of trust, and they emerge with stupendous wealth flaunted even in the faces of the hungry and deprived owners of the mandate.
“Fantastically corrupt” is a phrase that has come to be associated with Nigeria and Nigerians all over the world. A supposedly poor country whose leaders flaunt their riches to the utter amazements of other leaders of the world who sit atop fortunes of their countries but dare not help themselves to the public till.
The campaigns to oust the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration in 2015 could not have been anchored on better message to Nigerians and the global community.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who has gone down in Nigerian records for his no-nonsense mien perfectly fitted the description of a new Sheriff who could personify that true desire to clear the Augean table.
Quite unexpectedly, by the time the elections were concluded in 2015, the new opposition Peoples Democratic Party found it easily condemnable that the party that profiled itself as a house of saints was already being populated by a huge number of those who had been accused of corruption. Truly, the Buhari administration has been derided by many for the contradictions in its campaigns against corruption and the seeming harbouring of prominent Nigerians standing trials for graft.
Perhaps, one of the sleazy moments the APC, Buhari-led government must have found uneasy to wash off came up after the inauguration of the new Federal Executive Council. Imagine the combination of a Minister who had been on trial over corruption and his Minister of State is the very lawyer who was prosecuting him! The case of Chief Akpabio and Festus Keyamo before their separation stood out as a sore thump and a major minus for the image of the administration’s campaigns.
On Thursday, many of the APC-Buhari critics could either summon the courage to admit that the Kalu case is a positive loud statement or just maintain their silence at least for a while as the dust raised by this conviction settles.
And the lesson here!
As the news of the sentences went viral on Thursday, most could only imagine the shock waves it must have sent to the spines of so many other office holders with one bad case of corruption or the other. The judgment further reinforced the fact that no matter your political affiliations, the law will be allowed to take its due course. In a way, the allegation of selective pursuit of the anti-graft crusade can for some time take the back seat.
As the former Governor of Abia commences his new journey and new life behind bars, leaving behind a vast estate of riches, let us see how this again reforms the minds of those who are close to the treasuries and rape them at will. Remember it might take long but the judgment is always very near. And the question now is: Who is next?