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Ike Ekweremadu as a Sacrificial Lamb

 

It is no longer a secret that the forces which want the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwere­madu removed from office are bent on accomplishing their mis­sion. But the pertinent question on the lips of many sane Nigerians is how his ouster will bring about an end to the many challenges be­deviling the country?

If Ekweremadu is axed, will that end Nigeria’s biting economic recession? Will it end the war against Boko Haram or stop the Niger Delta freedom fighters from blowing up the oil pipelines? Will it stop the clamour for restructur­ing Nigeria or the agitation for self rule by some ethnic nationalities?

How will his removal from of­fice strengthen the Naira against the Dollar? If Ekweremadu ceases to be Deputy Senate President, will the wobbling economy get quick fix? Or will the 2017 budget get a lifeline for successful execu­tion?

Many are yet to come to terms why the All Progressive Congress-led Federal Government will make Ekweremadu’s removal its priority amidst legion of woes and challenges ravaging the country.

Ekweremadu’s emergence as the Deputy Senate President from the opposition Peoples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) in an APC-controlled senate has remained a source of bitterness and discom­fort to the ruling party. Ever since then the power hawks in the party have not relented in their bid to unseat him and install one of their own.

A number of strategies includ­ing the alleged falsification of the senate rule for which he is being persecuted along with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki have equally been unleashed to accom­plish the task. Despite the gallant­ry by Ekweremadu, his party and associates to fight back there are still clear signals that his enemies have not given up.

To political watchers, the re­cent comment by the impeached Senate Leader, Ali Ndume that Ekweremadu might be the next casualty in the current power play at the senate was only a warning shot. Senator Kabir Marafa of the APC Unity Forum gave the second signal when he offered his unsolicited and toxic counsel that Ekweremadu should defect to the ruling APC to save his job. Few weeks later as the reactions and counter reactions provoked by both comments raged on, APC National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun boasted that APC would soon assume total control of the senate, thus, confirming the fact that Ekweremadu’s fate may have been sealed by the cabal against his emergence.

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His detractors have consistently argued that it is a political taboo for the Deputy Senate President to emerge from the opposition party. To them also, the anti- corrup­tion crusade of the APC will con­tinue to have a set back as long as Ekweremadu remains the num­ber two man at the senate. This assumption is yet to be proved by any empirical evidence.

Nowhere in Nigeria constitu­tion was it stated that the National Assembly principal officers must be elected from one political par­ty, hence , the PDP made a futile effort to remove ex- Speaker of the House of Representatives and the current Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal when at the run-up to the 2015 general election, he defected to APC. So, giving Ekweremadu the option of choosing between his job and de­fecting to APC is to say the least, an embarrassment to his respect­ed office .

But more importantly, the des­peration to oust Ekweremadu at all cost is seen in many quarters as part of the game – plan to exclude the South East geopolitical zone from the political equation in the country. Ekweremadu , is today the highest political office holder from the zone , and his emergence was simply by providence.

So, removing him means re­ducing the entire zone to mere spectators in the national politics. This is worrisome at a time the zone is kicking against exclusion from the security apparatus of the country to other key federal ap­pointments. Such unhealthy de­velopment which is already caus­ing tension should be avoided as it continues to cast doubt to the unity of Nigeria.

Already, the plot against Ekwer­emadu is viewed as an affront against Ndigbo in many quarters. But it is not unlikely that some elements among the South East politicians may be conniving with those behind the move obviously for selfish interests. There is a cal­culation that if Ekweremadu is removed, he would be replaced by the only APC senator from the zone who recently emerged through a re- run.

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It is therefore expedient that the South East politicians should rather approach the Ekweremadu issue with regional interest as paramount. They should be their brothers’ keeper and eschew the selfish mentality of betraying their brothers for pecuniary interests as were the case in the past when the Senate Presidency went to each of the five states from the zone.

But buying into such calcula­tion is a big political risk for the zone as there is no guarantee that the new senator will be made the beneficiary of the protracted war between the APC Unity Forum and the Progressives. It is very unlikely for the war lords or their foot-soldiers to simply surrender the booty to a new entrant who never played any active role in the battle.

However, the bid to remove Ekweremadu may have to lin­ger for a while considering the circumstances surrendering his emergence. Could it be that the ‘ Ekweremadu- must- go group’ have forgotten that his removal must get the nod of the majority of the Senators? And judging by the political calculations which produced him along with his boss, Saraki, the majority is still firmly on their side.

Except if Saraki is into any se­cret deal to sacrifice Ekweremadu to regain the favour of the forces against him from within the APC which is not unlikely given the dirty nature of politics particu­larly in our clime, it will be diffi­cult to uproot the Deputy Senate President. But it will be a political blunder and suicidal for Saraki to betray Ekweremadu on whose back he rode to his current posi­tion.

If the PDP caucus in the senate had not backed Saraki’s candi­dacy there was no way he would have emerged as it was obvious he was never the choice of the forces in control of his party. It will therefore, be unthinkable, unkind and morally unfair for Saraki to sacrifice his Deputy just to make peace with the Pres­idency and his party leadership.

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Agreed that he may be under intense pressure to use Ekwere­madu as a sacrificial lamb, integ­rity and morality demand that he should resist such temptation. Besides, should he be convinced to believe that Ekweremadu’s re­moval will end his travails, pun­dits rather believe it will aggra­vate them. Some hold the view that the moment Ekweremadu goes, Saraki will most unlikely survive for too long as the same force will ultimately claim him and return the control of the senate to the Unity Forum.

In the same way, it is strongly believed among political ana­lysts that Ekweremadu should not fall into the booby trap of defecting to APC in a bid to retain his seat as such action is very risky. Should he fall for such deception, he stands the risk of losing the support of his party, geopolitical zone, fans and many progressive minds who see his travails as politically- motivated.

He may not need a soothsayer to know that the urge to defect to APC is only a trap to lure him out from the PDP and public support he is currently enjoy­ing as there is no guarantee that the same people who are urging him to cross over will not dump him later. And by then, he would have been deserted by every­body. Could this be a strategy to nail his political career by those who see him as a threat in 2019?

Should Ekweremadu at this point dump PDP on which he rode to power, he will obviously loose his respect before many of his esteemed admirers. Poli­tics in Nigeria should not be all about personal interest all the time but sacrifice , integrity and the will of the people.

Even if the forces against him succeed in removing him should he fail to embrace the defection option, Ekweremadu would have endeared himself to many more minds across the country as a man of integrity. And there is always future for men who treasure integrity above other gains.

 

Steve Oko

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