By Cosmas Omegoh
Oil industry player Emperor Baywood Ibe has faulted former Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu’s on his proposed plan to contest for governorship in Enugu State in 2023, saying although he has a constitutional right to aspire, he should quit the stage while the ovation is loudest and be a statesman in the state.
“I read an article about a meeting convened by Chief Ekweremadu in an Enugu hotel where he was said to have declared his intention to run for governorship in Enugu State in 2023, after cataloguing what has done for Enugu State.
“It was a sour point to me as an individual. It is a bit nauseating that Chief Ekweremadu could come to gloat about what he had done for Enugu State to warrant his ruling the state.
“Very importantly, if I were Ekweremadu, I will take a bow; I will quit while the ovation is loudest because God has been gracious to him. He should note that grace taken too far can turn to disgrace. He has had God’s grace for long.
“He is not the Messiah Enugu is waiting for because he has held power for long. He has been in the Senate for over 20 years. Ekweremadu was Deputy Senate President for three terms. He was ex-chief of staff in Enugu State. I had long before now admonished him right in my house on what he was not doing for the people and for Ndi Enugu.
“But now that he wants to be governor, he is telling us how he wants to turn Enugu to Japan and the Asian Tigers, making allusion to Singapore’s iconic Lee Kuan Yew. Why did he not use his power as a three-time Deputy Senate President to turn around the fortunes of Enugu State as a prelude to what he is trying to aspire today?
“He ought to have used his position not as a governor but as a Deputy Senate President to attract some goodies to Enugu State but he never did that.
“I remember then when we started the movement Save Agwu Forum Enugu (SAFE) to address the marginalisation, deprivation and oppression of Old Agwu from where his Aninri LGA was created, and his role in it all. We fought against how he was not allowing the people to aspire and to grow; how he was not letting the people to attain their God-given heights, levels and opportunities; he was one of the people that made it very difficult for us. But he didn’t succeed because I have the youths around me. I have the people around me, and they helped to fight off the evil machination of the power that didn’t want us to be.
“And what were we asking for? That Enugu should have credible a alternative. And that an Agwu man should be given the opportunity to produce a senator, minister, director-general, a provost or vice chancellor, knowing full well that Agwu has remained one of the oldest local government areas in the old Eastern region.
“Awgu birthed Oji River LGA; Awgu birthed Aninri where Ekweremadu hails from. Yet, it has no place in the scheme of things. And Ekweremadu believes that there is no body from Awgu that can be governor of Enugu State. I think it is morally bankrupt for him to think that way.
“He has the right to aspire to any position as an Enugu indigene, as a Nigerian. But if I were in his position, I will say ‘God, I thank you for giving me this opportunity in life. Let me take a bow and become an elder statesman in the state and take a position from where l can advise governors and would-be political aspirants on how best to go about things.’
“I had advised him to allow people to grow, to aspire, politically, but he insisted on being in control, deciding on who should aspire even for the smallest positions in Enugu West. He believed that nobody from Old Agwu should be anything.
“Any time we had the opportunity to make demands, other people always said ‘but you have Ekweremadu from Old Awgu as Deputy Senate President.’”
He said his people from Awgu “want to have a sense of belonging in Enugu State. Now, see how Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has concentrated his efforts in Nsukka zone. That is not the right thing to do, but he is focused on his zone.”
He advised that if Ekweremadu is so much interested in going for an elective position, he should aspire for the office of the president.
“Sadly, he wants to narrow himself down. He wants to become the governor of Enugu State. What can he say he attracted to Enugu State?
“Until APC took power, Enugu –Port Harcourt Expressway was among the worst in Nigeria, same for Enugu-Onitsha expressway which they have been trying to do now. But not one of them in power thought about what they would do for Enugu State.
“What did he leave behind which he is trying to correct now? What is he bringing to bear as governor of Enugu State even when he had all the trappings of power when he held sway in the Senate. What has he forgotten that he wants to give to us today?”
He said at the moment, the people of Old Awgu are looking for a governor from the area because it has been marginalised for too long.
“We have to be given the opportunity as Awgu people. Because right now, we are like a lost people sort of, in this state. I will not rest; I will continue to advocate for my people. And we have the right people here.
“In one of our meetings, I told the current governor of Enugu State that the Awgu man has not been attended to. What have we done wrong? I will continue to fight this fight until an Awgu man becomes the governor of Enugu State.”
He further expressed his dissatisfaction with Ekweremadu for now trying to identify with the youths saying: “I was more appalled when he was talking about the youths. Over 12 years ago when I began to campaign and empower youth in the old Agwu Chief Ekweremadu was not talking about the youths until now that he has found out that, that might be a selling point. That is playing to the gallery.
“I’m more appalled about what I hear about many Nigerian politicians who come out to say youth this and youth that.
“Chief Ekweremadu is one of the average politicians who found out too soon the place of the youths in the political system and is now wooing them, playing on their psyche and making them to believe he is pro-youths. All of them propagating youth agenda at this point in time are very deceitful.
“Hardly did we hear any of them talking about the youths.
“In 2018, we at Baywood Foundation published a book titled “Beyond Rhetoric, youth participation and governance in Nigeria.” The book was launched in Abuja and Ethiopia after which we were invited to sign a partnership with the African Union (AU) to propagate youth matters in Africa. And that is the way it should go.
“What we discussed in that book is just like a warning about what might happen if the Nigerian youths are not taken care of and we saw a bit of that during the #ENDSARS protest. The early warning is that if you don’t take care of the youths, you are amassing kegs of gun powder which will be ready to explode very soon. And it did.
“That is why I’m a bit worried that the like of Ekweremadu mounted the rostrum and was talking about youth matters according to the article I read.”