For obvious reasons, I had resisted every press inquiry on Senator Ike Ekweremadu – both local and foreign – since he was detained in the United Kingdom on the allegation of organ harvesting. The most relative reason is that our African basic norms dictate that we show empathy for the adversities of others – whether friends or foes.
However, I am provoked to offer the following statements of fact because of the crude timing of the attempt by the Federal Government of Nigeria to seize the properties believed to be proceeds of corrupt practices that belong to Mr. Ekweremadu.
IS EKWEREMADU CORRUPT? Yes, very, very! A partial testament is his shameless acquisition of 40 properties scattered around the globe. In fact, I had always told the senator in his face and written extensively on how he used his time in the Senate to collude with contractors to loot the funds budgeted for several public projects in Igboland. These, of course, include Enugu/Onitsha, Enugu/Port-Harcourt, and Oji-River/Awgu roads, which have continued to claim many innocent lives. A simple scan of the internet on my name alongside Ekweremadu will show more, including a library, water, and road projects that were looted in my hometown of Ugbo, Enugu State.
SELECTIVE WAR ON CORRUPTION: I am well-known for promoting serious consequences for bad behavior. But the timing of Ekweremadu’s punishment is crudely selective. Mr. Ekweremadu is by no means more corrupt than other Senators of his time, notably David Mark and Abubakar Saraki, and co. More curiously, Ekweremadu’s degree of corruption is a pint in the ocean compared to that of Senator Bola Tinubu. Oddly, the same Tinubu is the current presidential candidate of no other party than the party of the current Nigerian government that is determined to convict Mr. Ekweremadu in absentia. Ike Ekweremadu is definitively NOT more corrupt than Senators Chimaroke Nnamani, Orji Kalu, Hope Uzodinma, Godswill Akpabio, and many others who equally have pending cases at the EFCC but presently being embraced by the same Federal Government to promote the candidacy of the same Tinubu.
WHY EKWEREMADU REMAINS IN JAIL: Ordinarily, Ike Ekweremadu, a three-time Nigerian Deputy Senate President, former Speaker of Ecowas Parliament, and a serving senator—for that matter–would not be denied bail in the United Kingdom. Neither this man nor his wife is a flight risk. The objective fact is that the Nigerian government is behind the senator’s continued detention. What must not elude the thinking faculty of fellow Nigerians is that President Buhari is shamelessly vengeful. He is very shameless about the extent he travels to perpetrate vendetta politics. Buhari will never forgive Abubakar Saraki and Ekweremadu whom he perceives as the diabolic duo that hijacked the Legislature to frustrate his first term agenda as a democratic president. If Buhari can, for the first time in Nigeria’s socio-political history, discard a well-known convention by excluding Saraki, a former President of the Senate, from a recent traditional National Honors award, one can then imagine what awaits Ekweremadu, an Igbo for that matter.
WHO BELLS THIS CAT? Sadly, not sure! Since the Ekweremadu saga broke, I have had ceaseless calls from all over the world, calling me prophetic. One of the perceived prophesies is that I never ceased to tutor the senator on the genius of the adage: “A tree does not make a forest.” I even reminded him on several occasions that a day like this could come. I warned the senator to consider that none of his political associates from his area (entire Old Awgu Division) has the influence, capacity, or the status to bail or even speak for him should he be arrested. (Awgu is one of the three old divisions that make up Enugu State). The point here is that, unlike his crooked colleagues, such as Senators Chimaroke Nnamani and Bola Tinubu, who excelled in elevating their associates, Senator Ike Ekweremadu made sure that none of his political associates from his area could rise or shine. He could not even recommend any of them as an ambassador, chairman of Board of any major parastatal, or a minister, let alone helping any of them to become a federal contractor. In fact, the senator is the owner of the construction firm that executes the projects he attracted to his constituency.
The man wanted to be all and all in the area since 1999. He even waged war against few of us outside his realm of control who have the capacity and willpower to oppose his primitive accumulation of wealth, as well as his seductive despotism. He went as far as sponsoring fiendish activities, targeting our families and businesses. Put it this way: the three-time Deputy Senate President and former Speaker of Ecowas Parliament had his knee on the neck of our people for over two decades.
WAY FORWARD: To garner broad sympathy and support, Ekweremadu must toe the line of Father Ejike Mbaka by retracting his sardonic statements on Mr. Peter Obi’s candidacy, which happened few days before his London palaver.
Any person, and Igbo for that matter, who nurses any motive to sabotage a path to a fair, just, and progressive nation readily attracts the wrath of the gods of Nigerian youths, as well as progressive minds. This truth is that our country has hit the rock-bottom, but our God has remained faithful by presenting us with two simple choices to finally get it right through the 2023 elections. It is a clear case of Evil Vs Good, in this case quintessential twin crooks (Tinubu and Atiku) Vs Peter Obi! For now, Ekweremadu is stuck in the middle: His crooked colleagues have already abandoned him while the masses view him with suspicion. He must, therefore, atone and openly choose good over evil.
The NEXT move is forgiveness and brotherhood. As Ekweremadu’s powerful friends from the outside have conspicuously abandoned him, the good people of Old Awgu Division (Greater Awgu) need to take a cue from an Igbo proverb made popular by the Oriental Brothers International Band: When a dead body begins to rotten and smell, the relatives are called to rise and take charge.
I have fully forgiven Senator Ike Ekweremadu and hereby call on the good people of Greater Awgu home and abroad—both friends and foes—to also forgive him. We should unite and wage a vigorous campaign for both social and legal defense of Ekweremadu both in Nigeria and United Kingdom. Let us remember that we squandered 23 years’ worth of political capital on one man and must not allow the same man to rotten away in prison. I am confident that he will learn from these travails and change to become a better leader. A free Ekweremadu can still capitalize on his huge wealth and broad connections towards the greater good of Greater Awgu people. I am also pledging full support for this move, financially and otherwise.
Ogbonnia, a former presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, writes from Houston, Texas, United States of America.