The incumbent governor says his predecessor is a burden.
A former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, is an embattled and failed politician who lacks even basic academic qualification such as the senior school certificate; his successor, Theodore Orji, said, in a ferocious rejoinder to a week long public row between the two men.
Mr. Orji spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, Wednesday, in his first response since Mr. Kalu was stripped of a bachelors degree by the Abia State University-a decision Mr. Kalu blames the incumbent governor for.
Many also view the decision as the climax of the political confrontation between the two former allies. Mr. Orji was Mr. Kalu’s Chief of Staff for eight years during the latter’s tenure as governor.
The school said it found out the former governor’s admission and graduation, done while he held office and acted as the visitor to the school, were flawed.
In a reaction weekend, Mr. Kalu said the decision, coming six years after he left office, was induced by his successor, whom he labelled a “political neophyte”, unpopular among his people.
The incumbent governor, Mr. Orji, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Ugo Emezue, said the former governor was attempting to evade a scandal he brought upon himself. He denied instigating the decision to strip Mr. Kalu of the degree.
“We are hesitant to react because that is pure blackmail. Abia State University is a full-fledged institution and its senate has the right to decide anything it likes,” the governor’s spokesperson said via phone.
“Truth is that Abia State Government has nothing to do with that. He should face his certificate scandal alone.”
Mr. Orji denied he was aware, as the Chief of Staff, of the arrangement leading to Mr. Kalu’s enrolment in the school, and his graduation.
“The chief of staff is not involved with his admission. First of all, he wouldn’t tell anybody if he is doing something bad. When you are carrying a woman, will you tell your chief of staff?” he asked.
He rejected the notion of a “neophyte”, and lambasted the former governor as the one lacking in qualification and experience.
“This is an elected governor, graduated from the University of Ibadan, seasoned civil servant for 35 years, worked at INEC, chief of staff for eight years and governor for two terms.
“Compare side by side with a man whose school certificate is even in doubt. In fact that is even the one the world will soon hear. He does not have a school certificate,” the incumbent’s spokesman said.
Mr. Kalu’s dispute with his former trusted aide, and the irony of his post-office experience, have surprised many.
As governor, Mr. Kalu founded the Progressive People Alliance, PPA, and deployed state and party machinery to install Mr. Orji as his successor; even when the new governor was detained over corruption charges.
Both men have since fallen apart, and Mr. Kalu has abandoned the party, seeking to return to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP; years after the incumbent did the same.
The distrust between the two men has been fuelled by more than is known publicly, Mr. Orji’s spokesperson said.
Part of it, he said, was Mr. Kalu’s attempt at perpetuating his influence after he left office.
“In life, when you give birth to a child, you want that child to be greater than you. But in this kind of situation, the father wants to be the greatest forever,” he said.
He said part of Mr. Kalu’s grouse, was the new governor’s refusal to fund his family and their profligate lifestyle.
Once, in the mid of the tense relationship then, Mr. Kalu, issued the current governor a query on the platform of the PPA, accusing him of non-performance.
“Can you imagine giving a sitting governor query?”
“He was more or less like a burden to the governor, milking everything. So what do you expect the man to do? When he’s pushed to the world he said no, enough is enough.
“We cannot continue to cater for your mother, cater for your brother, cater for your family, taking jet to the U.S., the state government will be paying. The people of Abia state said no, this cannot continue. So that is what happened,” he said.