Return home, Miriririenyi: Open letter to Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK)

By Sunny Igboanugo on

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Nno! Welcome back. I had to give you some time so you could unwind, take your deserved rest and catch up with events within your immediate environment, before bothering you with this, letter, which content is as crucial as it is critical, as imperative as it is urgent. I can see that this circle has been completed because you’re now back to the Senate, where you hold the principal office as the Chief Whip.

I write this letter because I know you OUK from what you have done and not what people say you did. You were once the voice of Ndigbo. That exactly is my concern. The other aspects are matters of character and I’m not an expert in that area. Who am I to judge? So, I stick to what I know and leave the rest to others who are more qualified? After all, there is no single story in a man’s life and rudimentary science teaches that action and reaction are equal and opposite. That, then, shall be my focus. I write you as an Igbo, a troubled Igbo.

Miri! Long before I actually had personal contacts with you, you had become a household name by dint of your own actions. That event at the Hotel Presidential Enugu, few months after you were inaugurated as the first governor to lead Abia State after the catastrophic days that the infamous June 12 1993 presidential election spewed out, was all it required to announce your presence loud and clear in the minds of your people. I was there.

I’m sure, Your Excellency, you have not forgotten that occasion. You practically lit a fire in the whole country. It was an earthquake – a cataclysm! Your colleague governors must have chosen you for that special assignment and you handled it so well that the effect was quite resounding. The venue itself was itself symbolic. Hotel Presidential, Enugu, remains one of the remaining reminders of the efforts of our forebears, particularly Nnamdi Azikiwe and Michael Iheonukara Okpara. I’m sure there spirits were with you on that day.    

Yes, it was at the foyer of that hotel, which now, in its relic state, seems to bespeak in symbolism, what Igboland has become in body and spirit and in terms of the efforts of our past heroes that you made that pronouncement that shook the country. For the first time, Igbo governors spoke with one voice and took a stand on a burning issue and moved to pursue the destiny of their people as a collective. Nigeria must return to the starting block, they sang. You led the chorus.

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That was how confederation, took the centre stage of the national discuss and for several years after became the major debate in the polity. It was a reincarnation of the Aburi Accord debate. Even today, the debate is still raging. That was the beginning of your breaking the frontiers, your gaining consciousness into the Igbo mind.

I learnt that Aso Rock was shaken to its foundation by that outing and the unanimity of purpose behind it. How could this happen? Ndigbo speaking with one voice? Rattled, beside himself with anger, then President Olusegun Obasanjo, moved quickly. Yes! One of your colleagues told me at a private meeting how the ex-President personally called him and the others immediately that declaration was made public, to rebuke them over such an audacious declaration. The President himself exposed this sentiment in a public outburst, where he denounced that effort.

Then from there you moved on. When others began to equivocate on that resolution, apparently cringing at Obasanjo’s anger, you moved on without them. In fact, you were to confront the Aremu of Ota, the Balogun of Owu himself frontally as you continued to champion that idea which sat well and still sits well with your people, as it is the major reason three millions of their kits and kin died in the Biafran war.

That was how you became an instant hero. I recall the carnival that was the World Igbo Day, in 2001, where you were the keynote speaker at the Cinema Hall of the same Hotel Presidential. Never had that type of crowd been witnessed at any event in Igboland in recent years, as I saw that day. The only event that came close was the Mkpoko Igbo conference in 1994, which was called to put together the Igbo agenda in the wake of the Constitutional Conference in 1995, put together by the late General Sani Abacha, principally to counter the activities of the opposition mounted against his government.

While inside the hall was fully-packed, the outside also spared little space as Ndigbo came from all parts of the world to listen to you. Outside Ojukwu, I never saw any Igbo man that was accorded that sort of attention as at that time. That was the phenomenon you became at a time in Igbo history.

Miri, you didn’t stop there. When the selfsame Aso Rock wanted to distabilise Ohanaeze Ndigbo by attempting to purchase and pocket its leadership, you were there. An effort interpreted as a precursor to recruiting the Igbo into the much-touted third term agenda, you rose to the occasion. Like the rock of Gibraltar, you fought against this intent to mortgage the interest of your people. You were their nemesis.


Through your lone effort Ohanaeze survived, as you ensured that a new leadership emerged, a true leadership made by the people and not a puppet leadership. Nobody knows what would have happened to this mouthpiece of Ndigbo had that evil scheme succeeded. May be it would have sounded the death knell. So, that Ohanaeze still stands today, is largely to your credit.

I recount all these, because I was involved, one way or the other, sometimes, being one of the tools used in achieving those laudable goals. So, I speak with authority on those efforts.

Then, came the Peoples Progressives Alliance (PPA). You single-handed caused the making of two governors through sheer uncommon political alchemy. That in itself was one of the most outstanding political feats achieved in Igboland, if not the most outstanding. How you engineered that resounding exploit still confounds even your greatest enemy till date.

Unfortunately, that appears the end of the glorious story. The rest has neither been edifying or noble. The anti-climax came with your recent ordeal. Though, many of your compatriots celebrated Miririrenyi, being corralled through the prison gates, it practically brought tears to my eyes, because I saw in that odious picture the fall of a once great, courageous Igbo leaders of our time.  

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As I began with, Distinguished Senator, this letter is not to question your individual character regarding how you discharged the affairs of Abia State as a governor. I won’t exonerate you, neither would I condemn. Mine is to remind you of that once glorious era and suggest how you could re-enact it, assuming you would wish to return to it.       

There are a surfeit of reasons I don’t believe you’re a coward. It even came to a point where security operatives were dispatched from Abuja to abduct your own mother in the guise of carrying out an investigation in what appeared a last-ditch effort to cow you. Of course, I recall how it all ended with the hounds scampering out of your domain, their legs between their legs. Those were your legacies, just some snippets of it.

The question now! At what point did you miss it? How come that you lost those two PPA governors in so short a time? How come there are no further echoes in the street when you appear in Igbo gatherings? That is what I wish you to ruminate on. You must resort to a deep introspection as you begin the repair work.

But if I must help you take a quick decision, may I implore you to beat a retreat from the road you’re treading in your political engagement. It’ll not only lead to a social cul-de-sac but infamy. I’m sure you still recall the surprise on my face in your Abuja residence when you regaled me with your grass to grace story – how you used to take palm oil to sell in the North and bring back cows to sell in the South East and when you stressed – maluu when you thought I didn’t get the gist.

Should you wish to return to the old OUK there is a job waiting already. You must pick up your old voice where you dropped it and renew your investment with your people.

That means dropping out of the company you are presently keeping. You cannot be seen hibernating with the very promoters of the problem you tried to solve for your people about two decades ago.

You’re an extremely rich man. I kpago ericha ericha. What else are you looking for in terms of riches? You’ve also seen the worst of it – behind the prison walls. What can your enemies do to you again? Assuming you chose to benumb your voice because you were scared to go to prison, haven’t they done their worst?

I beg you, Miriririenyi, return home. Are you afraid you’ve wandered too far into the wilderness – far too far for redemption? No! The Igbo have a large heart to forgive and forget. They’re probably the only ones that give expression to the biblical injunction that old things shall be past and everything shall become new and even if your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, even if red as crimson, they shall be like wool – as long as you reason with them.

I beg you, again! Come back Miriririenyi!

Igboanugo, a journalist, wrote from Abuja



Posted on June, 10 2020

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