This is a classic instance of the instability of human conditions. At the age of 20, he had become a millionaire at a time the naira was worth more than the dollar. At 26, he became the youngest Nigerian to receive the National Merit Award during the Ibrahim Babangida-led military administration in 1986.
Orji Uzor Kalu became the governor of Abia State when he was not yet 40 and ruled the state for eight years between 1999 and 2007. He capped a life on the fast lane with his recent election as the senator representing Abia North, eventually emerging as the Chief Whip in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
But all that took a dramatic turn penultimate Thursday with his conviction by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court which sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment for N7.65 billion fraud while he held sway as Abia State governor.
Although he has become a prison inmate since then, Sentry gathered that the reality of his new condition did not dawn on him until some of his associates began to visit him in the prison. Recall that the former governor reportedly asked the prison officials who led him out of the court after the judge pronounced his conviction: “Where are we going now?”
A few days after he landed in prison, one of his business associates was said to have paid him a sympathy visit but was shocked at the pitiable picture cut by the former governor, who was said to be wearing a pair of bathroom slippers.
“See me now eating in the prison,” a pensive Kalu reportedly told his visitor, who struggled to find the words that could console him. An erstwhile colleague of his as governor, who spent some time in incarceration, also visited him. The flamboyant ex-governor advised him to stay strong and regard his travails as another phase of life.
Sentry gathered that the former Abia State governor has been moved from Lagos to the Kuje Prison in Abuja for reasons no one could fathom.