About Orji Uzor Kalu
Born to the family of Chief Johnson Uzor Nesiegbe Kalu and Chief (Mrs.) Eunice Kalu on April 21, 1960, he attended Christ the King School, Aba, and Government College, Umuahia. After studying at Barewa College, Zaria, he enrolled in the University of Maiduguri, where he studied Political Science.
During his time at the university, Kalu became a student activist, and participated in the “Ali Must Go” riots against the education minister, which attracted the wrath of the authorities, resulting in his suspension. While his fellow students later took the school authorities to court, Kalu left school to build his business.
He borrowed $35 from his mother, with which he began trading in palm oil. First,buying the oil from Nigeria’s eastern region and then selling it in the northern part of the country. He also diversified into buying and reselling furniture on a large scale.
He later founded SLOK Holdings, a conglomerate that would consist of a number of successful companies, including the Ojialex Furniture Company, SLOK Nigeria Limited, SLOK United Kingdom Limited, Adamawa Publishers Limited, SLOK Vegetable Oil, Aba, SLOK Paper Factory, Aba, SLOK United States Incorporated, SLOK Ghana, Togo, Cotonou, Guinea, South Africa, Liberia, Botswana, SLOK Korea, Supreme Oil Limited, SLOK Airlines, Sun Publishing Limited and First International Bank Limited. He also owns The New Telegraph newspaper, aside from his investments in insurance and tourism.
He got his start in business at age 19 after being expelled from the University of Maiduguri and became a millionaire by the time he was 20. It is worthy to note that the school management after thorough investigation found Orji Kalu’s expulsion as inappropriate and asked Kalu to return to the school and complete his final exams, however Orji agreed to return only if other students who were suspended with him will also be recalled.
He hit the big time in the early 1980s when the Nigerian military government awarded him lucrative contracts to import and supply items to Nigeria’s military and defence forces. Forbes’ estimate of his net worth had dropped since 2014 due to weakness in the oil business and drop in real estate prices.
Being a new kid on the block, as he then was, Kalu became the youngest Nigerian to receive the National Merit Award, having been conferred with the honour by then President Ibrahim Babangidaa at the age of 26 in 1986. He was selected as the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce’s Industrialist of the Year, and awarded the Humanitarian Award of the University of Nigeria Nsukka’s Humanitarian Club, the Volunteer Award of the International Association of Volunteers, the EU Special Award in Brussels, and the World Bank Leon Sullivan Award.
He has continued to garner honours and recognition from across the globe, including traditional titles from all the regions of the country.
An avowed philanthropist and businessman, Kalu’s foray in politics has not been less successful. He was a presidential candidate in 2007, a two-term governor of Abia State (1999-2007) and erstwhile member of the House of Representatives .
Kalu spearheaded the Njiko Igbo Movement, with the core objective of helping secure the presidential seat for a Nigerian citizen of Igbo extraction. An Igbo has only held the position of a head of state for six months since Nigeria’s independence.
He launched the organisation with branches and support groups throughout the diaspora, together with Senator Emmanuel Onwe, a human rights advocate and lawyer earlier based in the United Kingdom.
It must be acknowledged that Kalu’s political trajectory is novel and confounding. Following his fallout with the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kalu founded the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). The exploits of PPA within a short time could rightly justify Kalu’s political sagacity and strength. The party won gubernatorial elections in 2003 and 2007 in Abia State and also won the governorship election in the neighbouring Imo State that same year.
In the April 21, 2007, National Assembly election, the party won three of the 360 seats in the House of Representatives and one of the 109 seats in the Senate. This was to the consternation of many who had, prior to the election, argued that APC had no place in the South East zone.
His attempt to be in the Senate in 2015 was not possible after forces were mobilised against him by the PDP in favour of their candidate, Mao Ohuabunwa. However, following his joining the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the former Abia State governor, in 2019, realised his senatorial bid after trouncing Ohuabunwa. He later emerged the Senate’s Chief Whip, a position he currently occupies.
Kalu’s representation of Abia North has been very eventful, as several projects attracted by the senator now dot the zone.
Kalu is married to Ms. Ifunanya. He has four children namely; Neya Uzor Kalu, Michael Uzor Kalu, Zina Uzor Kalu, Olivia Uzor Kalu and Nicole Uzor Kalu.