By Proper Ugochukwu
There was a principle in its early stage in the eighties sent to me by a friend from the States. It was called the Peter’s Principle, a little akin to the law of diminishing returns. There were two examples but I could recall one presently.
Mr John was a good mechanic in a motor servicing company and due to his diligence and excellence was promoted to the position of a supervisor, a new position that would have him supervising all the other departments. He did not realize that he should be going round checking if all were functioning but his former position and the mechanic mentality wouldn’t let him grow.
Once he encounters a mechanic who took time to fix a problem, he condemns the mechanic as being clumsy or inefficient and goes under the car immediately. As he goes under, he certainly fixes the problem but at the expense of other supervisory expectations. He could not adapt to the new supervisory role as he had outgrown his level of competence.
This fits the Umeh Kalu situation in Abia where a former Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of the State and incidentally the longest serving in the legal category then, to turn around like a street urchin yapping grievously.
Do you blame those who appointed him for elevating a near muscleman to a high office? The answer may not necessarily be in the affirmative as the political world is riddled with renegades, whistle blowers and executive turncoats but one from such a high horse is appalling. It is not common especially in recent times.
Some years ago when I met Umeh Kalu as a co- appointee, I witnessed one act where he grabbed somebody by his belt and the man couldn’t escape as much as he struggled. It said much about him and I enquired wondering which cases he won, which legal treatises/reforms did he propose to qualify him for the number one legal officer of the state? I was told that he was a hero and pied piper of people who had problems with their landlords or many who couldn’t pay rents in Lagos. Could he have been one of these defaulters or just having mere sympathy for the deprived? A story my uncle told me sprang to mind.
Many in Lagos or Ajengunle may not know why a particular spot in Ajegunle is called Boundary. In the early days, the Lagos colony stopped at a place and it was the limit for the Lagos tax collectors. So the Lagos Government recruited fierce and strong officers to drive their taxes with men who had the ability to grab people firmly because the defaulters will skilfully run across the limit and taunt the collectors as they cannot cross into the area of the Western administration. That’s why the place is called boundary till today. Umeh vividly reminded me of the Boundary and Lagos tax evaders.
Umeh Kalu has lately decided to emulate former President Obasanjo in his lengthy letters. His treatise of Dec. 1, 2021 numbering over twenty pages, addressed to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu seems to be a big second thought or he was forced to publish that. More so, it lacked the Obasanjo model where he only posits facts and cautions with reason devoid of insults and foul language.
He employed quantum innuendoes and quirky references that smirked of blackmail and the likes.
He obviously shot himself in the leg because his many references to Ikpeazu’s predecessor which is Senator T. A. Orji indicates that there is a deep seated animosity when you realize that Umeh Kalu SAN, was an insider in Senator T. A. Orji’s Governorship as the Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of the State and got the blessings of Ochendo to continue with Ikpeazu, making him the longest serving Attorney General in the Abia.
With all these, he had the closest contact and leeway and could have easily had audience with the Governor instead of going public. By all counts, Umeh should redress himself knowing that he was under oath of office and we ask if Gold rusts, what will iron do? Are ten years in office not good enough? Should Umeh have said all these things if he was allowed to continue as the Attorney General of Abia State? Is he green with envy over another being in his place? Is he so ruthless that he cannot recall the goodies of the past, especially, Ochendo’s avuncular mien?
Some of the policies he is condemning now were put in place by him. The security votes he disdains were legal reforms he proposed and positioned in T. A. Orji’s tenure. He was aware of the security situations and raised the legal documents as bills and motions. Most of the employment like that of the magistrates were done under him or through his office. The changes and innovations he is proposing now could have been in his handover notes if he could not handle them while in office. When will our people learn to distance self from public good?
Peter’s Principle comes in here because a man was elevated above his level of competence and you do not blame those who appointed him just as Duncan noted in Macbeth that ‘there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face’. There are ample ways to seek redress. Even in law, arbitration is still a legal route. Muscling, grabbing belts, name calling should be the least option.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.