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Benjamin Kalu: When talent must not be buried



By Ben Benson-Okoli

“You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.”

Those were the words with which that rich man dismissed his unimaginative and indolent servant as recorded in the book of Mathew – one of the biggest lessons that underscores the principle of investments, be it of human or material capital. The servant in question, had what actually looked like a solid and impenetrable argument on the face of it. But it took the superior reasoning of his master to puncture it.

Few credible assessor of the Nigerian political development today, would miss the similarity between where the South East is today and that unfortunate servant, as told in that popular biblical story. In fact, many, who liken the era of the last eight years or so as the darkest for the zone in the political evolution of Nigeria have enough examples to play with in this regard. Few will doubt the fact that the zone is holding the shortest end of the stick in the present political era – unprecedentedly so.

Of course, the jury is still out and may be for a long time to come as to the reason for this situation. In fact there are legions of reasons to pick from for this parlous outcome. It only depends on where the assessor is coming from. For instance, one of the easiest and most oft-stated factors many cite, is that Ndigbo have not invested in the All Progressives Congress (APC) the party in power at this period. In other words, they denied the party political capital by consistently snubbing it during elections, such that no presidential candidate of the party has got any appreciable showing in terms of votes.

But on the flip-side, how well has the party itself treated the area? This was a zone that provided its its own political muscle that helped in lifting the party to national consciousness. So, how come that it was only the position of the Organising Secretary that the APC saw fit to gift the South East, an area that provided one of the strongest of the legs of the Nigerian tripod?

This was a party that had Ogbonnaya Onu, collapsing an entire All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), he led at that time and Rochas Okorocha, coming with his own faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) into the new party. Yet, all they got for the entire sacrifice was that inaudible and nondescript position, despite making up with some equally big names that came out of the South East politics.

So, what would have been the attraction to lure the area and their people from their comfort zone to move to the uncharted waters that the APC provided as an option, when their leaders who tested the waters were so wantonly disregarded? Or is it that the people concerned are so blind that they could not see or deaf that they could not hear? This are the big questions also begging for answers in the narratives.

In other words, it might actually be apposite to argue that the APC was the first to fail the test – the first to bury the talent. Nobody knows how it would have turned out if the party had not buried the capital the South East brought in at that initial stage by rewarding the zone adequately. So, there is enough blames to go round for those who would venture into the argument with a clear head.

It is against this backdrop that new political arrangement in Nigeria today must be appreciated. Clearly APC seems to have moved from what looked in the past like a permanent position of denying Ndigbo everything in an apparently obvious mutual political tit-for-tat that was the imprimatur of the President Muhammad’s eight years. President Bola Tinubu seems to be thinking differently. By insisting that the Igbo must have a representation not only in the leadership of the National Assembly and more recently in the distribution of Service Chiefs – a road Buhari vehemently refused to travel, certainly signifies some sort of a new beginning.

What is required is a concomitant, corresponding and commensurate response. That is where Benjamin Kalu comes in. As Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, he has assumed the position of not only the highest ranking Igbo man in government, but the arrowhead of South East politics in terms of engagements at the nation’s political table. Whatever must be done with the buried coin, on both sides of the divide from henceforth, he is expected to take the lead.

Luckily, in character and learning, he is coming well-equipped for the job. Beyond being a lawyer, an intellectual and deep thinker, it is evident that he has also honed his skills as a politician with the needed charisma and appealing public personage as well as uncommon eloquence that has put him in good stead as fit for purpose.

Further proof that he is no greenhorn, lies in the trajectory of his gradual, but meticulous rise in his individual and job experience. The last two decades, saw him move from Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the Governor on Mellenium Development Goals (MDGs) and International Relations, in Abia State to building a political superstructure in which he played the role of a mobiliser in various capacities through rare inter-personal relationship skills.

His strong passion and commitment to his Bende people in the same state, especially in the area of human capital development, such as heavy investment in scholarships for students, giving business grants and offering employment opportunities through his Benjamin Kalu Foundation, have since paid off in the manner he has consistently been rewarded with political dividend he is harvesting today.

Beyond the shores of Nigeria, his mobilisation ability was no less in place as he put it into use when he became the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the diasporas, controlling about six provinces in South Africa, apart from leading the campaign for Nigerians abroad to be given the right to vote in elections.

While mobilising Nigerians in the country towards a common purpose, he was at the forefront of the formation organised Nigerian community in South Africa including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in the country, while at the same time satisfying his unquenchable appetite to learning, picking an MBA from one of the best Business Schools, not only in the country, but even in the world, before returning to Nigeria.

This spectacular knack for mobilising people, using his quintessential gift of the garb, was recognised easily during his first election in the NASS, when he was given the position of Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, of the Green Chambers, which made him one of the most visible federal lawmakers in Nigeria.

Yet, never at any point did he forget his roots, as he continued to touch base, holding weekly engagements with his constituents and ensuring that he had first hand and in most cases on the spot assessment of the problems and prospects of his people, while at the same time, still playing the role of the voice and the face of the House.

These have naturally come into the mix as he begins the journey of re-connecting the South East to where it matters in the political arrangement of today’s Nigeria. No doubt, he also has the argument. The fact that he knows what is on board could be captured in his apt response, when he was confronted with the issue of the perceived damning showing of his people in the last election. That parlous picture would not be made better by isolating them. It would even be more difficult to penetrate them.

Having made the right pitch and struck the right chord, the job is now finally his. Everything now takes off from there. Whatever the outcome, remains to be seen. But one message that must accompany him is the words of Woodrow Wilson, former President of the US – The direction is as important as the impetus of motion!


Benson-Okoli Esq., a journalist and lawyer, writes from Johannesburg (



Imo massacre: Armoured vehicles procured for police used to rig elections – LP



Labour Party, palpably in anguish at the slaughter of eight soldiers in Imo State on Tuesday by some rampaging gunmen, has raised questions over the whereabouts of the nine Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) Athan Achonu, it claimed its governorship candidate for the November 11 election, repaired and donated to the authorities in the state.

The party, all but called out the leadership of the Imo State Police Command, to whom they claimed the equipment were handed over, alleging that the last time they APCs were seen was during the last general elections, where they were used by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party in power in the state to snatch ballot boxes for candidates in the national and state assemblies.

The claim, was made when Nick Opara-Ndudu  and Nnaemeka Onyeka Obiareri , chieftains of the party appeared as guests on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television to sell the candidacy of Achonu, whom they said would never have allowed the type of insecurity in the state to endure under his watch.

Both men, who said that Achonu, whose highest political office so far, was his short stint in the Senate, where he served via the 2015 election before he was removed through the courts, remained the only solution not to the insecurity, in the state and even the South East,  but the one to rescue the people from years of underdevelopment from poor leadership.

Obiareri, spokesman of the LP in the state, argued that if the APCs had been in place, Tuesday’s incident in which the military men were killed alongside some policemen and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), would probably not have happened, said a check on the social media would reveal how they were used by party men of the APC for rigging the 2023 general elections.

He said: “The military men that were killed if they had armoured vehicles patrolling, they wouldn’t have been shot by those criminals. Athan Achonu, go and confirm from Innoson, paid hundreds of millions of naira to Innoson, Innoson is still alive, you people can still go and interview him, to repair nine armoured vehicles for the police. Five were supposed to be in Okigwe zone. Till today, we don’t know where those nine armoured cars are.

“If you go to Youtube, you’ll see Youtube record of members of the House of Assembly in Imo State using those APCs to carry ballot boxes. It’s there on Youtube, you can search it out. What Athan Achonu will do is very simple. Every local government area will have one humvy vehicle for the police. Police stations had been totally burnt in Imo State and Athan repaired most of those police stations.

“Then, there will be community vigilante. We’ll train those 50 youths per community – train them, equip them and arm them. They should guard their communities. When you have over 50,000 hectres of land, reclaimed from the bandits, and you have youths who are not only just farming, but who are trained to protect their communities, they’ll do the job.

“Then, we have to set up a security trust fund. Ndi-Imo are not scared. As at today, there are some communities in Imo State, where bandits – unknown gunmen, are ransacking and collecting levies from the communities. Basically, Athan Achonu will provide training, recruitment for people donated by the communities. Communities know those who are the terrible ones in their midst. And I tell you, in six months, they will flush them out.”

Opara-Ndudu, who dismissed the claim by the state governor, Hope Uzodimma that the carnage and other killings in the state were politically-motivated, blamed the governor for misplacing his priorities and failing to provide jobs for the teeming youth population in the state, questioning why nobody had been arrested and prosecuted fully in the courts if the insecurity in the state was all about politics.

Hear him: “The security problem has to do with objective conditions in the state. The young people are frustrated. The government is not making any investments in the areas that are required. We’re busy pursuing projects that are designs in deception. Look at the roads that are being done in Imo State, you know for you to deal with the problem of poverty and other economic challenges, you have to deal with the problem of infrastructure.

“In Imo State, the government has dedicated all of its time and half of its time to reconstructing federal roads without any attention – little or no attention paid to the rural areas. If you go to length and breadth of Imo State – Ngor Okpala, Ezinifte Mbaise, even in the governor’s local government – everywhere in Imo State, you find that the rural areas are looking desolate and abandoned.”

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Police find body of missing female student dumped in the bush, vow to get killers



Operatives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), command, have vowed to fish out the killers of a university student, Blessing Karami, whose body was said to have been picked up from the bush days after she was declared missing on September 11.

The FCT police, which released the painful news on Thursday, said in a statement by its spokesman, Josephine Adeh that the remains were found in the woods in the Karimu area of the city.

The police spokesman acknowledged that her disappearance was reported to the police authorities last,  Thursday, September 14 added that 26-year-old Blessing, a student of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was declared missing after leaving her place of work in Garki, Abuja.

She said in the statement: “The body of Blessing Karami Moses, a 26-year-old woman who had been missing since September 11, 2023, was tragically discovered in a wooded area in Karimo. Her disappearance was reported to the authorities on September 14, 2023,” the statement read.

She said Commissioner of Police, FCT, Haruna Garba, had directed that command should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, adding: “While we are working closely with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to facilitate the respectful retrieval of the decomposed remains acknowledging the sensitive nature of this task, we will continue to provide updates to the public as our investigation progresses.”

Adeh, a Superintendent of Police (SP), also commiserated with Blessing’s family and loved ones over the incident.

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Ogun cult massacre: DSS raid home, pick up PDP lawmaker, five others



Damilare Bello Mohammed, a serving member of the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA), is currently telling operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) his side of the story, after he was picked up over his alleged involvement in the rival secret cult clashes that occurred in Sagamu town.

Mohammed, recently elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to represent Sagamu State Constituency 1, was picked up on Wednesday by the agency over the incident in which at least eight persons were killed last weekend during the violent clash in the town, alongside five other suspected cultists allegedly involved in the cult violence.

The five other suspects; Debbo Animashaun, Bamidele Saheed, Ismaila Onitire, Adewale Otesanya and Tobi Owoade, were arrested by the DSS operatives during a sting operation after a tip-off at the early hours of Thursday within the residence of the lawmaker.

Lekan Adeniran, spokesman to Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor, announced the development in a statement on Wednesday, saying the secret police tracked the six suspected cultists to the official residence of the lawmaker.

Accusing the lawmaker of providing shelter to the cultists, Adeniran, said in the statement, that the suspects were presently undergoing interrogation in DSS custody after many dangerous weapons, including guns, were recovered from them.

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