VERY HOT (OPINION): CHIKWENDU KALU: A CLOWN OR SPEAKER ? – By Ebere Uzoukwa
The attendees of the funeral of Late Ugoeze Lady Catherine Ijeamaka Nwachukwu (Née Ekemezie), the late mother of Prince Uzor Nwackwu, on Thursday 13th December 2018, at Nneoyi, Isiala South LGA, will quickly gasp the essence of this write-up.
The simple poser making the headline should elicit a clarification of sort or simply a good and convincing response given the dishonorable conduct of the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Hon. Chikwendu Kalu when he stormed the funeral arena ostensibly in a bravado style leading a handful of a rag-tag supporters. Speaker Kalu would storm the arena shortly after the deceased was interred to rest in the blossom of The Lord, our Creator.
In his ranking as the number three citizen of the state and head of the state legislative body, Kalu is expected to be conversant with the basic tenets of protocols and etiquette. That among other things will diligently guide him on critical issues with moral affinity and mostly glued him to proper conduct and actions expected of a high public office holder and Speaker of a state legislature.
I was among the supporters of Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for Abia State that accompanied him to the funeral. The APGA Governorship candidate enjoys a very close but cordial relationship with Prince Uzor Nwachukwu, the son of the deceased. Prince Uzor Nwachukwu is a member of APGA and close political ally of Dr. Otti.
Apparently relishing on the strength of the relationship, Dr. Otti considered it gratifying and worthwhile to stay and remain with Prince Nwachukwu and his family as he suspended other political engagements to attend the funeral/church service which took place precisely at St. Martins Anglican Church, Nneoyi. After the church service, Dr. Otti, his supporters and APGA members soberly moved to the deceased family compound for the final burial rites and internment.
On his arrival at the Nwachukwu”s compound, Dr. Otti, some his aides and campaign managers quietly walked down to a canopy designated to the VIPs. While the clerics performed the final rites at the graveside, Dr. Otti and his people remained decorous and calm while the musician and the “Uncle J. B” jesters entertained the soberly crowd.
It was at this very point that Speaker Kalu stormed the arena in his Toyota Prado Jeep and a Ford Ranger Pick Up used as his back up. He quickly alighted from his vehicle and walked straight to the family house apparently to see and condole the bereaved members of the family. Speaker Kalu cannot feign ignorance of the presence of Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, also from Isiala-Ngwa South and a Governorship candidate and other notable dignitaries already seated in the VIP canopy.
As one imbibed with the fundamentals and rudiments of protocols and etiquette, having worked closely with a Governor, I expected Speaker Kalu to show decorum by walking down to the VIP stand and exchange greetings and pleasantries with the dignitaries including Dr. Otti that were seated before his arrival. That he never did.
After spending some minutes in the building, Speaker Kalu apparently displaying his political swag and followed closely by his hungry-looking supporters, moved as a war commando to the music stand situated closely to the service point of the caterers. You could imagine what happened next.
Speaker Kalu’s supporters suddenly hijacked the microphone and began to sing his praises and that of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, the Governor, who wasn’t even present. Rather than conduct himself in a desirable manner and probably show good conduct, Speaker Kalu despicably disorganized the hitherto peaceful gathering and ignited a palpable tension. Gentlemen and ladies, that’s exactly what Speaker Kalu displayed at the funeral of the Late Ugoeze and wife of a traditional ruler where all and sundry were expected to be sober.
Assuming but not conceding that Speaker Kalu committed a protocol blunder by not greeting the dignitaries including Dr. Otti upon his arrival, and when the atmosphere was peaceful and calm, what then stopped him from doing the needful immediately he came out from the building? Why didn’t Speaker Kalu call his supporters to order if actually their action was deemed undesirable and unapproved by him? What didn’t Speaker Kalu respect the dead? Was he not aware that the event he attended was a funeral and not a political rally? Was he not aware that members of two competing and opposing parties were present at the funeral, a singular factor that ought to have guided his conduct and actions?
After creating unnecessary tension, Speaker moved to greet Dr. Alex, Otti. That was also after the security aides of the APGA Governorship candidate had cleverly taken adequate and proper cover to protect their principal.
There and then, Speaker Kalu was embarrassingly stopped and prevented from shaking hands with Dr. Otti and other dignitaries seated at the VIP arena. He was practically turned back as he shamefully vamoosed with his poorly fed supporters.
To be candid, my points are very salient. Political office holders and Leaders should be very mindful of their conduct and actions especially when appearing in the public. Speaker Kalu’s sheer display of improper and immoral conduct as well as playing politics on the graveside of the dead instantly fetched him a public embarrassment and disgrace. And no apologies as Speaker Kalu deserved that rebuff and reprisal.
When Speaker Kalu took to his heels alongside his hungry-looking supporters, I remembered a past but sad event that shamefully reduced him and his exalted office. I remembered vividly how he handled a minor misunderstanding that ensued between his wife and some officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) sometime last year. Speaker Kalu proved his immaturity, and as a power drunk, deployed some security personnel attached to him, unleashing them for a kill. He literally charged them to kill innocent FRSC officials carrying out their legitimate duties somewhere after Umuikaa junction, along Enugu-Portharcout Expressway. Speaker Kalu, consciously or unconsciously may have induced and badly railroaded his wife into imbibing unruly attitude of disrespect and arrogance. Little wonder his wife never thought of handling such none-damage but minor issue that many drivers and road users do encounter almost on a daily basis. That could have also informed the rationale of deploying his security aides to such an illegal and deadly assignment. The FRSC officials survived by the whiskers and mostly by the grace of God.
I have one advice for Speaker and co-travelers. Advice they say is never a curse. I want them to remember that Power is transient and momentary. What did I say? Political Power is transient and momentary. That Speaker Kalu and his party, PDP, are in power today in Abia State is never a guarantee that they will remain and control political power in the state beyond 2019. Those in power should be very careful and cautious of how they treat or denigrate others who equally have the potentials and capacity to take over power. That’s my solemn advice to Speaker Kalu and members of the PDP in Abia State.
Also before resting my pen, I will kindly make a candid suggestion that will definitely help Speaker Kalu. I will recommend that he urgently attends a workshop on Protocols and Etiquette. Honestly, Speaker Kalu should come down from his high horse and submit himself to some consultants and experts in Protocols and Etiquette. I had personally attended two of such workshops in the past and can authoritatively testify that such tutoring has its derivable benefits. It refines and redefines one in different ways as a public office holder. It also prepares and makes public office holders to be charismatic and colorful in their outings. Speaker Kalu needs such tutoring especially now the campaigns are gathering momentum to among other gains save himself from incurring further embarrassments and public disgrace.
I rest my pen.
Ochiagha Ebere Uzoukwa
SSA to Dr. Alex Otti & The State
Campaign Council on Media & Strategy