The Deputy Senate President of Nigeria needs no introduction in the political landscape of Nigeria, where he has held several public offices and has been serving meritoriously since 1997. He has achieved a historic feat as a three-time Deputy Senate President of Nigeria and presently doing one of the terms as a leading opposition party figure in a government formed whole and entire by a ruling party. Therefore, the efforts to strangulate and annihilate this intellectual colossus by all means are understandable, given the crude African archetype of do-or-die politics that is far from modern democracy. In modern democracies, like the US and the UK, governments are formed between the ruling party and the opposition parties in the event of lack of overwhelming majority of seats in Parliament. Such marriages go on symbiotically without much squabbles, as each party strives to outperform the other so they can win the hearts of the electorate, to have more seats to form the next government solely without sharing power. This seems a taboo in our political climate, where the winner takes it all.
In his public life that spans over two decades, Ekweremadu has waged several wars from all fronts and this has been reignited and heightened by his historic emergence in June 2015 as the Nigerian Deputy Senate President in an APC government. To worsen matters, Ekweremadu is seen to have refused to read the body language of the leader of the APC and accepted a free and democratic election into the named seat, thereby sharing power with the ruling party. For this, the APC has decided not to rest on its oars until he is removed and their anointed candidate installed even if it is against vox populi. This was confirmed by the APC party chairman, Chief John Oyegun, who opined that Ekweremadu was the greatest headache of the party and they were determined to reclaim their so-called “stolen position” of the Deputy Senate presidency. The party quickly put together a crack squad to go through the records to unearth some incriminating allegations that could be used to bring down the man. When nothing was found, in 2016, they came up with a failed allegation of forging Senate rules to nail him.
The Deputy Senate President’s case has become like that of the biblical Jewish Daniel exiled to Babylon, who gained the mind of the king as one who was gifted with interpreting dreams that known sorcerers were unable to fathom. That talent of Daniel’s was considered a threat by the native political desperados and they feared his possible ascendancy to power, which came to be, hence, a plot was schemed and hatched to bring him down by all means before he moved from Prime Minister to become their generalissimo. Where they could not find him wanting in any way, the laws of Medes and Persians was amended to say that whoever made a petition to God, any man, save the king, for 30 days, should be cast into the den of lions. They knew very well that Daniel would be found culpable as he was very close to his God and would pray three times daily. He was eventually caught, tried and verdict pronounced that he should be cast into the lions’ den. Instead of Daniel being killed in the lions’ den, God spared him because of his innocence and all the conspirators became delicious meal for the lions.
The takeaway from this narrative is that man has refused to learn from history and as such has continued to repeat the mistakes of the past. Must conspirators against Ekweremadu wait until they receive the punishment of Daniel’s conspirators? The manner of rushing to crucify the man is unwarranted and most despicable. It is a pointer to the obvious that Nigeria’s democracy has taken hundreds of steps backwards as being in opposition is considered a crime while switching allegiance to the ruling party, in spite of any corruption baggage, is saintly. Opposition members are hounded and intimidated with spurious allegations of corruption when the actual looting of the treasury goes on unabated among the “special stock” of the ruling party’s members. Speaking up against the government today and being found not to have declared ones assets properly or being accused of corruption has become a stock-in-trade of the present government.
The man Ekweremadu is not new to being harangued by state forces in a bid to browbeat him out of the public space. In 2006, he was hounded by his state government to the point that any political appointee or civil servant allegedly caught visiting his house was declared an “Obote man” and instantly sacked from office. It, however, came to pass that he weathered that storm and remained afloat. What was his crime? The then de facto governor of the state fuelled a rumour that Ekweremadu was interested in the governorship seat of the state and that he had taken some state functionaries loyal to him to swear an oath of bond in his support. In spite of his garrulous rebuttal, the state government sustained the intimidation. At a point, his property’s certificates of occupancy and his official residential quarters were threatened. Somehow he survived and became the Deputy Senate President.
In this ongoing imbroglio, it is germane to note that Ekweremadu, like any Nigerian, has his fundamental human rights, which include right to own property. This right cannot, by any means, be taken away from him, not even by APC and their cohorts on a journey destined for damnation. Maybe, in the nearest future, he would be accused of having 20 children or five wives. This is how pedestrian and plodding the ruling party has degenerated. While APC government officials are buying property within and outside Nigeria worth millions of dollars beyond a century’s earnings, couldn’t Ekweremadu have saved his earnings as to divest into property? We should recall that the Nigerian President promised to make his assets declaration public. Till date, the more Nigerians watch, the less they see. Who is, therefore, afraid of Ekweremadu? At least he is not superintending the NNPC, where there is controversy about $23 billion, while the self-styled anti-corruption government watches with adulation.
It is important to note that the onslaught on the person of Ekweremadu heightened under the present administration and includes failed attempted assassination, failed effort to plant arms in his house as to accuse him of gunrunning, failed allegation of forgery of Senate rules to pave way for his sack as Deputy Senate President, and many other intimidating moves against his personage. All these plots were targeted against one single man, and he is still breathing? There is definitely something divine about his humanness that has enabled him survive these previous plots, and certainly he will survive this current satanic onslaught.
The man in the eye of the storm stated not long ago: “This too will fail,” and I add, like a pack of cards. The oddity of the present leadership of the Nigerian state seems unbelievable as it is busy chasing shadows while Nigeria burns. This, for me, is a semblance of the villainous King Nero, who was partying while Rome was dying. Therefore, let the adversaries of Ekweremadu, who are afraid of his meteoric rise and charismatic leadership, not shout uhuru yet, as he will be vindicated like Daniel and his adversaries drink their usual cup of infamy. Their needless tantrums and vituperations in the social media against his person are needless.
• Anih wrote from Enugu.