“I have never been a prouder Bende Man”, is the common denominator in the responses of Bende people, home and abroad, who were asked of their opinions on the recent politics of the Bende Federal Constituency. The palpable sense of pride and noticeable spark of renewed patriotism in the hearts and voices of Bende sons and daughters when discussing Benjamin Okezie Kalu’s latest campaign for the House of Representatives prompted this documentation of the legislator’s campaign.
In mid-2018, Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Esq., more popularly known across Bende as BenKalu declared his intention to run for the office of the Representative, Bende Federal Constituency and thereafter commenced his campaigns with a fervency that set a high bar for politics in Abia State, nay, in Nigeria. Having spent the last 17 years participating in Bende politics as well as various community building efforts through his charity organization, the Benjamin Kalu Foundation (BKF) and various other structures, it was immediately clear that BenKalu possessed a sound and comprehensive knowledge of the communities in Bende as well as the issues affecting them.
He contested against self-acclaimed billionaires, however, in a display of political brilliance, he took the challenge to an arena where he had the clear advantage; an arena where lavish spending was not the key, but where intellect, competence, charisma, compassion and credibility were the rules for success and the only way to earn the love and acceptance of the people of Bende.
Therefore, BenKalu did something daring and new in Bende politics; he ditched the traditional jamboree style political rallies for a more thorough and intimate door-to-door campaign. A tedious and gritty campaign which would provide the opportunity for him to showcase his content, compassion and also allow him to forge strong bonds with the locals. Traversing the 13 wards of Bende, he consulted with all groups and community leaders and knocked on the doors of all constituents, actively engaging with them to understand their problems and shape his manifesto and blueprint.
The pictures below are by no mean exhaustive, but tell the story of his journey to the National Assembly.