“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” — Harry Truman, former US President
Senator Professor Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy President of the Senate, has become an enigma in Nigerian politics. He has steadily risen to the enviable heights of statesmen, now more concerned about country more than politics.
Ekweremadu bagged a PhD in law as a senator while many of his contemporaries pursued mundane matters and has severally indicated his interest to return to the classroom and courtrooms once done with politics. Bestriding the two worlds, he has become what a politician would want in an intellectual and what an intellectual would want of a politician. Ever in hot pursuit of intrinsic values and knowledge, he was recently elevated to the status of a full Professor of Strategic Government Studies by the Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. This was based on his intellectual contributions, scholarly papers, and lectures around the globe as well as published books.
Right from his mythical reemergence as Deputy Senate President against all permutations and whims of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) till date, the plot to deal with the Ekweremadu factor never ceases. His travails have equally stretched to the limits with the government applying every repressive recipe.
The APC had protested Ekweremadu’s emergence then as an aberration, insisting it was unthinkable for an opposition member to occupy the number two position in the senate leadership. But the party’s position is at variance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and what the APC benefited in Aminu Tambuwal in 2014 and in the speakership of Plateau and Benue Houses of Assembly in June 2015 even before Ekweremadu’s re-emergence. Many APC leaders had then threatened that Senators Ike Ekweremadu and Bukola Saraki would be relieved of their positions, whatever it takes.
So, from the outset, APC does not want Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and neither does APC want Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President, accusing the former of causing implosions within the party and bringing it much public ridicule as a weak party. APC had openly boasted that it could be compelled to apply a saw to cut off Saraki and Ekweremadu’s hands if they felt their hands were so tightly glued to the exalted seats, and therefore couldn’t be removed.
But despite the onslaughts against his person and office, what cannot be taken away from Ekweremadu is the fact that he has not used his position to undermine the ruling party or their programmes as the APC could have done while in opposition. As a statesman, who is more concerned about the next generation than the next election, he has remained mostly bipartisan and has made commendable efforts to separate issues bothering on national security, national economy and national unity from politics.
He has, however, continued to call for protection of the nation’s hard-earned democracy against bad policies. He recently cautioned politicians not to take the take the nation’s democracy for granted with their abuse of powers because the military had been rolled back into the barracks. This patriotic admonition was nonetheless, soon mischievously twirled out of context to mean that Ekweremadu sought military return to power. Then the Kaduna State chapter of the APC called for his arrest.
What scares power mongers about Ekweremadu is manifold many. Apart from his steadily rising profile, one other is that he has emerged as the face of the PDP, opposition, and democracy. He is both pristine and suave. More importantly, he has no baggage, unlike many others who played at his level under Jonathan and now enmeshed in integrity crisis.
Ekweremadu is therefore easily seen as the beautiful bride who is capable of playing a central role in galvanizing the in the 2019 elections. Since his party has zoned the presidential ticket to the north, he also stands a massive chance of becoming a presidential running mate or returning to the senate again as a presiding officer. The potency of his combination with a sellable northern candidate is no doubt giving many some goose pimples in the face of the abysmally poor performance and squandered goodwill of the ruling party. This appears to be promoting the renewed attack on him.
This crude strategy to get Ekweremadu out of the way could boomerang and bolster his reputation even more. Recall that in 2016, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Dr. Ike Ekweremadu were arraigned on trumped charges of forgery of Senate Rules to aid their elections as senate leaders. This was even when there was no mention of their names in the controversial police report. Nor was there any other proof of evidence against them. The case was eventually withdrawn for lack of merit but not after the duo had been humiliated.
Not done, the obsession with Ekweremadu also led to the police raiding and ransacking his house in May 2017. When they found nothing, they blamed it on false whistleblowers, whom they later charged to court. This purported court case has never been heard of again.
Many observers have said that the obsession with Ekweremadu has continued with a simple aim, which is to intimidate him and opposition into silence. Obviously not bothering to carry out investigations, the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery for Public Property has just rushed to court seeking forfeiture of phantom assets allegedly not declared by the Deputy Senate President.
For the avoidance of doubt, Senator Ekweremadu recently said that the former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Innocent Umezulike, had before his removal from office by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for corrupt practices for which he is now standing trial, stole and doctored his will. He accused Umezulike and some politicians of inserting nonexistent properties in his will and left a photocopy of his will at the Probate Registry. They petitioned many government agencies. Typical of a government that is bent on ruining somebody, not only did the FG fail to investigate the claims of the petitioner, Obono-Obla Panel simply ignored the weighty issues raised by Ekweremadu to apply for asset forfeiture. The aim is clearly informed more by a motive to malign and district him and the opposition in the buildup to party primaries than by justice.
To say that Nigerians are hungry and angry to understate the obvious. There is calamitous cloud of payback hanging over the clueless APC government. That is why the jesters in the court are employing every trick in their old, worn-out bags to distract the angry crowd. So, the hit on this marked man called Ekweremadu is actually not only meant to intimidate, weaken, destroy and get rid of him politically, but also to distract the hungry, forlorn, and unsuspecting Nigerian public. It is part of the big lie for the oublic to feast on in the social media.
But try as they may, Ekweremadu has become something like a tsetse fly perched on their scrotum. Killing it is never an easy tax. Just like his many other travails, there is no doubt that this mystic bird, the phoenix, and cat wit nine lives will emerge stronger.