By Philip Odion:
I was compelled to write about what Senator (Dr.) Orji Uzor Kalu did for Kuje Prison because I witnessed a bit of it. My cousin is currently in Kuje prison as an inmate. Also, my townsman is a prison officer in Kuje. Through the two, I was able to get the details of the event that I now share with you.
I had gone to Kuje to deliver food to my cousin. As I was being searched at their front desk area, preparatory to letting me into the complex, suddenly, Senator Kalu arrived. There were some heightened activities and movements signalling that an important government official had arrived. The warder in charge of the arrival hall quickly waved me to a corner and motioned for me to be quiet and to wait for the August guest to be received. The Officer in Charge of the Prison and other prison officers came out to receive the Senator. They all went into the office. Then I heard the warders saying among themselves that Senator Kalu had come to inspect the solar electric power he installed for the prison. This happened last weekend.
As I sat in the waiting area for my cousin to be called out, I saw the Senator, led by the Officer in Charge and followed by other officers, all going into the prison yard. When my cousin came out to meet me, I asked him what was going on. By then the Senator was already inside the yard and I could hear the loud shouts of excitement as the inmates and warders were jubilating and calling the Senator’s name. My cousin explained to me why everybody was excited.
I learnt that since December last year when Senator Kalu arrived in the prison, he practically changed the lives of the inmates in every conceivable way. He paid the legal fees of scores of inmates. He helped many more to perfect the conditions of their bails and to regain their freedom. Every inmate with a problem only needed for the Senator to hear his problem and something would be done to help. He fed inmates. He paid for medicine for those who were sick. Before Senator Kalu arrived in prison, the prison community had electricity between 7pm and 11pm each day. But right immediately after he arrived, he increased the time they had electricity. He paid for electricity from 3pm to 7pm and 11pm to 1am. It is important to note that the Senator had a private generator that supplied power 24/7 to his area. He just wanted to help the inmates and staff of the prison by more than doubling the duration for which they had electricity.
Even before he left the prison on 3rd June, 2020, Senator Kalu had initiated a solar power project for the prison, by way of a lasting solution to the electricity supply. It was initially considered an inmates-financed project. But the cost was a whooping 27 million naira. It was considered too exorbitant and was nearly abandoned. But the Senator surprised everybody. You would think that once he left the prison, he would forget the people in prison. But not Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. He came back and paid 21 million naira toward the solar project. Olisah Metuh, Jolly Nyame and a couple of other inmates paid the remaining 6 million naira.
From this project, Senator Kalu has demonstrated four distinct qualities. He is generous. He is a man of honor that will keep his word even when the circumstances change. He is a very generous person. He remains an exceedingly wealthy man irrespective of the massive disruptions his businesses suffered due to the fake conviction and imprisonment he endured for 6 months. Orji Uzor Kalu is a man who will go to any extent to help those in need.
As my townsman further confirmed, the staff of the prison are hearing that the Senator is contemplating some further measures that will dramatically transform and modernize the Nigerian justice system from top to bottom. He is planning a total reformation of the justice system in Nigeria and everybody will benefit from it.
To add, the Senator is a simple man. He doesn’t seem to like a lot of ceremonies or attention. The prison had already enjoyed the solar power for over a week before he came to inspect it. And he came unannounced and with only one of his aides. His visit lasted less than 25 minutes and he was gone.
Now every custody in Kuje Prison has power, DSTV and the ability to pump water 24/7. (Yes, he paid for the DSTV for inmates and the prison clinic till the end of the year). The clinic, the church, the mosque and the library now all have electricity 24/7, thanks to Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
As he was leaving the prison, I tried to get close to him to get his business card. No way: a mean-looking warder told me to sit down and finish with my cousin, as if he knew what was on my mind and was determined to frustrate it. Anyway, it was quite interesting to witness all that.