Of their experience in the White House, Michelle Obama said, “We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters… that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules… and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.”
The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character.
Elections are a time for promises. Fortunately, over the last 4 decades or so, we have learnt the hard way that politicians will say and put a spin on anything just to get our votes. For the present, they will tout fake accomplishments and for the future, they will make desperate promises and swear with their lives- anything to convince you of their sincerity and credibility.
No wonder a popular Nigerian Artiste sang about election seasons, “e be like say dem want to tell us another story again”.
But as a discerning public, by what test do we determine the integrity of a man and how are we assured of his credibility and his promises?
The answer is in the definition of the word itself. It is the test of honesty and consistency of character.
Politics in Bende Federal Constituency is not exempt from this. The contest between APC’s Benjamin Kalu (BenKalu) and PDP’s Chima Anyaso, both candidates for The House of Representatives is one that has put Bende in full view of the national and international public, no thanks to the viral video clip of Mr. Anyaso walking out of an election debate after giving his opponent the middle finger and telling him “go and screw yourself”.
This year, we are faced with two major contenders from which Bende must make a choice.
Examined under the scope of integrity and judging from a test of honesty and consistency of character, it is hard to argue against the quality of BenKalu’s character. Over the past 16 years BenKalu has demonstrated a high quality and consistency of character evident in his business life, professional life, charitable activities and dealings with the people of Bende.
BenKalu has participated in active Bende politics for over 16 years without as much as a scandal or any credible rumor against him. In an era where NGOs have become just another channel for activities of fraud, BenKalu has conducted his charities and touched lives in Bende through the Benjamin Kalu Foundation (BKF) without any allegations of misappropriating funds or fraudulent representation.
In fact, in a glowing guarantee and attestation to other Ezes of Igbere, Eze Dr. Okorie said of BenKalu,
”I have known him from when he was a child until now. I can vouch for his character and that whatever he says is the truth”.
A review of the antecedents of Chima Anyaso however, reveals a stark contrast. All allegations in the cloud of scandals that trail him have one common denominator- Fraud.
Let us examine a few of them-
In a case by First Bank Nigeria PLC against his company holding at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi (Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1896/2015), Chima is accused of forging the signatures of Governor Orji Kalu and his wife, using their personal property to obtain a loan of N7bn and criminally diverting it to the account of his company, Caades Energy.
In another case (Suit No. FHC/L/332C/18), Chima Anyaso faces up to 61 years in prison for fraud and forgery. Mr. Anyaso is sued by the Attorney General of the Federation for forging documents purported to be from Total Nigeria PLC and using them to fraudulently obtain a credit facility of N2.bn from Guarantee Trust Bank PLC.
At the Abia Election Debate which held at Vision Africa Radio, Chima claimed that the road from Bende through Igbere and Item was built by his family; a road which we all know was built by Dr. Orji Kalu, his very first road project as Abia State Governor in 2001. Mr. Anyaso claimed that he runs a free education school, whereas, the women of Igbere revolted against his mother at the August meeting of 2018 for allowing her son fraudulently claim to be offering free education while charging the children tissue paper levies, soak away drainage levies and other fees amounting to N17,000 in some cases.
In a boastful fit, he went as far as claiming that the Ama-Igbere Farmers’ Co-operative Society rice mill belongs to his family.
Chima Anyaso bragged to the people of Bende that he had electrified the of Itumbauzo when in reality, he had only spent N22,000 to repaint a transformer box in Itumbauzo, a fact that was confirmed and corroborated by the community’s President-General, the Chief Vigilante Officer and even a flock of PDP and APC locals.
Mr. Anyaso, desperate to grab power has even resorted to propagating lies and campaigns of calumny against his opponent in a bid to discredit him.
In all of this, I ask, how many times will a man lie before he is called a liar?
The people of Bende are wiser. Promises will not cut it anymore. Faking accomplishments will not change our minds. We will decide and vote our next representative for the National Assembly based on a rigorous test of character and integrity.
I do not know about you, but for me and my family, Benjamin Okezie Kalu of APC, is a man of integrity, a man of consistent character and a man who will keep his word for the people of Bende when he is elected into the House of Representatives come February 16. He has our vote!