By KunleOyewumi

When eminent businessman and former Governor

of Abia State, Dr. Orji UzorKalu, embarked

on a visit of the South West a fortnight ago, it

was with one message: building peaceful coexistence

among Nigerians irrespective of religious, tribal

or political affiliation. And that was the core of his message

during his whistle stop visits that cut through Oyo, Osun,

Ondo and Ekiti States.

The visit, which started from Ibadan, the Oyo State

capital, saw Kalu delivering the Centenary lecture of the

Oyo State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists

and visits to eminent monarchs in the region. Among the

monarchs Kalu visited in order of stops were the Alaafin

of Oyo, Oba LamidiAdeyemi; the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba

JimohOladunniOyewumi, Ajagungbade III; the Ooni of Ife,

Oba OkunadeSijuwade; the OwaObokun of Ijesaland, Oba

AdekunleAromolaran; and the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus

AdeyemiAdejugbe, Aladesanmi III.

The former governor also had audiences with the

governors of the states he visited. These were Governors

AbiolaAjimobi of Oyo State, RaufAregbesola of Osun State,

OlusegunMimiko of Ondo State and KayodeFayemi of Ekiti

At the palace of Oba Adejugbe, the monarch called on

politicians in the country to be responsive to the plight of

the masses. The monarch said as the custodian of the people,

the traditional institutions remain the most responsible

platform for the sustenance of peace and unity across the

geographical zones of Nigeria and as such the government

should tap into the available opportunity. He admonished

politicians to rise up to the challenges facing the country.

He said Nigerians deserve much more than they are getting

from the leaders of the country now. The monarch thanked

Kalu, whom he described as a bridge builder, for investing

his time and energy in peace advocacy.

Kalu informed the monarch and his chiefs that there was

the need for all stakeholders in Nigeria to come together to

work out a road map for the progress of the country. Kalu

said: “I am here, your Majesty, in continuation of my peace

advocacy visit across the country. We all know that the

traditional institution is a well respected platform. Based on

this, we have decided to take the unity campaign to palaces

across the whole country.” Kalu urged the people of Ado

Ekiti to continue to support Oba Adejugbe in the running ofthe affairs of his Kingdom.

When he met with

Fayemi, Kalu jettisoned

partisan politics to support

the second term bid of the

Ekiti State governor. Kalu is

a founding member of the

Peoples Democratic Party

while Fayemi is seeking

reelection on the platform

of the All Progressives

Congress. Kalu said it was

evident that Fayemi had

delivered on his campaign

promises hence the need

to back his second term

The former governor, who

addressed journalists shortly

after the visit to Fayemi

at his official residence in

Ado Ekiti, said he is on tour

of the country to preach

national unity. He said

that Fayemi has provided

the people access to good

roads, quality education

and health among others in

his developmental agenda.

Kalu said he is impressed by

the diligence and commitment

with which Fayemi

delivered the dividends of

democracy to the people,

adding that he has got reports from the people that the

governor is performing well.

Kalu said: “Ekiti people should rally round the governor.

According to what Ekiti people said, the governor has done

very well. He has put in the mechanism and software for

the job. Everything will not come in one day. You will start

from somewhere and operate it. He is giving them access to

good roads, access to education and health and there is no

doubt that I have been impressed since I have gone through

the South West based on what I saw on ground.”

The former governor, who described the position of a

governor as a burden of service, added that he was sure

the Peoples Democratic Party would battle Fayemi in the

election but he is convinced the governor would win. He

however warned the different political parties to play with

decency and honour and avoid blood shedding in the coming

Kalu, who also spoke on national unity, said all hands

must be on deck for the survival of the country. He however

advocated a two-party system, saying that this will further

strengthen democracy and give it more meaning.

Also speaking, Fayemi lauded Kalu for the patriotic steps

he is taking towards the sustenance of the unity of Nigeria,

saying that this transcends political and religious affiliations.

Fayemi, who opined that Nigerian leaders will be

able to see beyond present challenges, said Kalu’s gesture

keeps hope alive that Nigeria has a future. Fayemi added

that he would never engage in the politics of bitterness even

though people will want to take sides during elections. He

stressed that his administration will never mix politics and

governance as he is committed to banishing poverty from

the state.

At the palaces of Oba Sijuwade and Oba Aromolaran,

Kalu called on the government to accord traditional rulers

roles in the country’s quest for peace. Kalu said that since

the traditional institution is the closest authority to the people,

monarchs across the country have huge roles to play in

the restoration of peace to Nigeria.

Speaking at the palace of Oba Sijuwade in Ile Ife, Osun

State, Kalu urged the Ooni not to abdicate his bridge building

initiatives. While he commended the top monarch for

his consistency in preaching and practicing the peaceful coexistence

of all Nigerians irrespective of religion or tribe, the

former governor said there was the need to take it further.

He said: “You are known across the country and worldwide

as a man of peace and Kabiyesi I must tell you there

is still much more to do. I want you to galvanise our peopleto support our leaders instead of fighting our leaders and

ourselves. President Goodluck Jonathan has done well for

Nigeria and needs our support. The Osun State Governor,

OgbeniRaufAregbesola, has done well and we should support

him. Kabiyesi, you have also done well and I am calling

on your subjects to also support you.”

Kalu said he visited Oba Sijuwade in continuation of his

peace and advocacy initiative across the country. Kalu said

Nigerians, irrespective of culture, age, colour and tribe

should continue to live together in peace.

The Ooni stated that Kalu is a great Nigerian with a very

large heart, who deserves to be celebrated. He said his businesses

have created robust job opportunities for Nigerians.

Oba Sijuwade urged Kalu to continue to support the peaceful

co-existence of the country as he had always done. He

wished his Kalu well in all his endeavours.

In Ilesa, Osun State, where Oba Aromolaran received

Kalu, the former governor thanked the monarch for granting

him audience. Kalu said his visit was to preach love and

unity. He said as the custodian of tradition and representative

of the people, traditional rulers have dominant roles to

play in maintaining peace and stability.

The Owa described Kalu as an exemplary Nigerian

who has contributed to the social, political and economic

development of Nigeria. He said: “Right from your days as

Governor of Abia State, I have always followed your selfless

initiatives. Based on this, coupled with your accomplishments

in life, on behalf of myself, the Ijesaland traditional

council and the good people of Ijesaland, I hereby confer on

you the chieftaincy title of Bobameto (the Chief Strategist)

of Ijesaland.

In Ogbomoso, Oba Oyewumi heaped encomium on Kalu,

describing him as an uncommon politician. Kalu, who was

installed as the Aro of Ogbomosoland by Oba Oyewumi 12

years ago, was not at the chieftaincy award ceremony as he

was out of Nigeria then. Kalu’s visit was therefore the first

official visit after the conferment of the chieftaincy title on

Oba Oyewumi said Kalu had demonstrated the qualities

of a good leader with his conduct before, during and after

his gubernatorial tour in Abia State. He said he remains

an astute businessman with a capacity for helping those in

Responding, Kalu, whose Special Adviser, Prince OyekunleOyewumi,

is the son of Oba Oyewumi, was full of gratitude

to the revered monarch for finding him worthy of such

a title. He said that his visit was not a political one but in

continuation of his bridge building across religious, political

and ethnic divides. He said he had visited some other parts

of the country, including the North, and would continue to

do in his bid to ensure the country remains one.

He told newsmen when asked if his visit was connected

with the 2015 elections: “You know me that I shoot straight

and say it the way it is. I am not set for politics. I am only

conferring with traditional rulers all over the country. The

country is so dear to my heart. We must live peacefully. The

country belongs to us all and we must continue to support

our leaders. Just the way I have called for support for

President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor AbiolaAjimobi

of Oyo State, so also do I want to appeal for us to support

the Soun in order to move Ogbomoso forward. The people

of Ogbomoso must also support Kabiyesi.”

When Kalu was asked of his impression of the people of

Ogbomoso, he said: “The people of Ogbomosho are hospitable.

The reception here, though this was supposed to be a

private visit, is unbelievable.”

In Oyo, Oba Adeyemi said it takes courageous men like

Kalu to step on toes, and powerful ones at that. Oba Adeyemi

said that he had followed Kalu even before he became

governor and knows that Kalu is a courageous man who

does not mind saying the truth even at a great risk to his

life. Oba Adeyemi briefly recalled the many face-offs Kalu

had during his tenure as governor with the then President,

Chief OlusegunObasanjo. Not elaborating, Adeyemi said

Kalu was one of the few people with courage to confront

Obasanjo, whom he described as “a moving train.” He

said he was once caught in the crossfire between Kalu and

Adeyemi, who revealed a secret he said he had been keeping

for years, said Kalu helped him in running his empire

with the provision of funds, adding: “In your eight years in

government, you did very well. You had money before you

became governor so it wasn’t that you went into politics to

look for money. In fact, I wanted to confer him with a chieftaincy

title but he ran away. And one thing he did not want

me to disclose while he was governor was that he gave me

a lot of money to run my own empire and government. In

so many instances, you stepped on toes. And that is the attribute

of a courageous man. He even confronted Obasanjo,

a moving train. I ran into one of their face-offs.”

Oba Adeyemi prayed for Kalu after his speech in which

he also eulogisedKalu for establishing so many businesses

for Nigerians and even foreigners to benefit from. He asked

God to embrueKalu with long life so he could enjoy the

fruits of his labour.


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