History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
James Joyce, Ulysses
In 1983 Brigadier Mohammadu Buhari overthrew the then elected government of Shehu Shagari. Buhari in his now well exposed nepotistic war on corruption sent Ekwueme to Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison while Shehu Shagari was placed on house arrest. The trial judge in Ekwueme’s case later ruled that the accused became poorer while in office than he was before serving as the Vice President. But the deed had been done. Dr. Ekwueme’s shortest route to become Nigeria’s president had been effectively blocked. One of the theories that have gained ground over time as the reason for the coup was the need to protect the long term political interest of a clique of northern political elite. This theory believed that the 31 December 1983 putsch that ousted Shagari became imperative to preempt the possibility of Ekwueme, a rising politician from the Eastern Nigeria, from emerging as the president of Nigeria. This theory fits well with the often demonstrated aversion of many individuals and groups from the north toward the presidential ambition of any Igbo man.
Fast forward to 2015 when Buhari after his relentless onslaught on democracy and democratic principles was rewarded with the presidency of Nigeria by the cabals that have come to believe that Nigeria is their exclusive vineyard. This time Buhari’s mission is to through trump up charges rope in, and humiliate the most nationally outstanding Igbo politicians of this present dispensation. From a fictitious forgery allegation of the Senate Standing Rules to the phantom news that Ekweremadu stockpiled money and ammunition, and to the present allegation of undeclared assets Buhari has demonstrated that he will not sleep until he had Ekweremadu’s head on a platter, God forbid. Buhari’s less than three years rule has been fixated on how to undermine Senator Ekweremadu. With the avalanche of problems bedeviling Buhari’s government which had reached crisis proportion without a meaningful answer to it often baffles how the same man and his government have been having a nightmarish sleep over a single individual, one of the very best politician (and we don’t have much of them) in Abuja today. What is in Ekweremadu that is stealing sleep and attention from a president who seems to have completely lost contact with reality? These question and many more boggles the mind and would continue to do so as the frenzy of 2019 election invest the whole country. For a mind not steeped in history the fight to undo Senator Ekweremadu would be the Ruling APC stratagem to contain the opposition PDP and discredit them before the eyes of the electorates. That assessment is true but it is not the whole truth. Even if most dyed-in-the-wool APC members are moronic citizens as they often behaved they would still have come to the altruism that elections where an incumbent is a contest is usually a referendum on the incumbent than a balanced assessment of two candidates and consequently would have advised their government to focus more on delivering good leadership instead of this perennial vendetta. Coming to the truth, the fight against Senator Ekweremadu is beyond a partisan strife, no doubt. It is an age long ethnic politics to humiliate the Igbos and bland them greedy, incompetent and unqualifying for Nigeria’s president. The constant hording of Ike Ekweremadu is an ethnic war to damage the Igbo brand.
Ekweremadu more than any other Igbo politician in this dispensation had demonstrate so much political courage, leadership, resilient, and intelligent. He had in the course of twenty years built a political connection and followership among the many ethnic divide that made up Nigeria. These people have been drawn to him because his sincerity of purpose. Now that his works have started attracting national and international attention it is time to undo him. Who did they select for the job? At this point you guess is as good as mine. The same Mohammadu Buhari who his present government now admitted few weeks ago, at Ekwueme’s burial, 34 years ago, that he had unjustly incarcerate the revered statesman. It would be a sad repeat of history and a demonstration of political naivety to sit down and watch a president who wield power indiscriminately, corruptly and nepotistically to destroy one of the ablest politician of our time. It is very true that Ekweremadu will triumph over the present travail as he had done in the past. He had told his supporters not to bother, that “this shall pass away”. But to always wait until one’s enemy exhausted themselves is to risk been damaged by the implacable forces of evil. Buhari and his underlings will definitely fail as they failed before in convicting Ekweremadu of any wrong doing but that would not bother them much if and only if they would succeed through relentless attack and mudsling to damage the Ekweremadu’s brand.
Finally the broader aim of the fight against Senator Ekweremadu is to awe and cower the Igbo man and reignite in them the psychology of a loser, a defeatist that needed to act only to the extent that were permitted by the assumed master of the Nigeria leadership game. This psychology, which Senator Ekweremadu demolished when amidst the general fear of a ‘strong Buhari’ (we now know better) he rose to contest and won the post of the Deputy Senate President from the opposition party, freeing the Igbo man from the crutches of political servitude that had dominated their political quest at the centre.
The sooner men of good conscience across the many divide of this country see Buhari’s government corruption war for what it really is, a vendetta war against those he perceived that stand to end his inept government, the sooner the country will tread again on the path of good governance, rule of law, mutual cooperation, peace and security, and sustainable development.
For the sake of Saharareporter, an online news platform that have seen the campaign to pull down Senator Ekweremadu as a holy grail I feel obliged to end this piece with an immortal remark by a German protestant pastor, Martin Niemoiler:
“First they came the socialists, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, I did not speak out. Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Chukwu Adindu is the author of Destined not to Arrive. He contributed this piece from Ibadan.