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Why Ekweremadu Belongs To Hall of Shame (I)

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Ike Ekweremadu

By SKC Ogbonnia

The recent protest in Germany in which Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, was harassed, chased around, subdued, and beaten naked like a palace pickpocket brought big shame to Nigeria, and the senator must own full blame. Even a novice could have discerned that the popularity of the #RevolutionNow, led by Omoyele Sowore, shows that the Nigerian masses are not fools and will not endure abject injustice forever. They are gradually recognizing their true problems and real enemies. The masses are keenly aware that Ekweremadu has been a recurring decimal in the gross misrule of the country in the 4th Republic, particularly in the South-East zone.

A fifth-term term senator, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu is a malignant narcissist masked by a boy-scout persona, yet any dig into his record readily exhumes mess and miasma to boot. He has only managed to sustain power through fake popularity, buoyed by a montage of propaganda, mass deceit, political bribery and brigandage and, of course, a vicious army of well-educated and well-paid bootlickers, made possible by an overflowing wealth accumulated without sweat. I must admit that I was once gullible to the propaganda and consequently became one of Ekweremadu’s biggest boosters.

The trust dramatically waned after I penned him a letter following the election of 2011. Since he was the political leader of the South-East to the centre, I specified important projects in the zone that could mold his name into gold, namely, Enugu Airport; Enugu/Port-Harcourt, Enugu/Onitsha, and Onitsha/Owerri highways; 2nd River Niger Bridge; and an additional Igbo state. I am yet to recover from the shock I felt when Senator Ekweremadu thundered back, suggesting that I was an ingrate. To him, instead of worrying about public projects, I should be grateful for life that he hired my brother as his adviser, supported my cousin’s election to the Federal House, and graded the pavement leading into my country home. But Ekweremadu forgot that we both must first pass through the roads plied by the masses before striding into our mansions. Lo and behold, yet very unfortunately, the senator would lose his beloved brother, Chukwuemeka, to motor accident caused by potholes on the same Enugu/PH highway on December 23, 2012. This experience contributed to my piece, “Every Nigerian Blood Is On The Line”

The last straw took place in 2013 at Houston, Texas. I had organized a meeting between Ekweremadu and the leaders of Igbo Peoples’ Congress while he was in the city on the invitation of Greater Awgu Leadership Forum (GALF). When confronted about why he had not shown up at the Igbo meeting, he retorted that the size of the crowd was not large enough to deserve his presence, and he never showed up. Ekweremadu’ apparent insult on the Igbo made me furious, obviously, but that is nothing compared to what follows.

A night before the aborted Igbo meeting, the senator was kind to have presented the Awgu people copies of a fat pamphlet, titled “Accomplishments & Constituency Projects Attracted by His Excellency Senator Ike Ekweremadu, CFR”. Interestingly, the number one on the list (S/N. 1) was a library he claimed to have attracted in the year 2009 to my town, Ugbo, under MDGs Quickwin. I quickly called the town union to inquire about the library and other projects on the list—only to find out that no such things existed and still do not exist. I made similar inquiries around the constituency and other parts of South-East where projects were supposedly attracted. I received similar result—phantom. Even in some cases with traces of such projects, they were uncompleted and totally abandoned. After his tawdry refusal to explain the contradictions, I made my findings public.

Since then, I have been a marked man. He not only unleashed a global campaign of calumny against my person and businesses, he is on record to have threatened my life. I will never wish my worst enemy the most immoral sight of Ike Ekweremadu laughing and jeering, while my dear mother, a septuagenarian, knelt in full glare of a national TV, appealing to the senator not to hurt her son—for daring to question his representative in government. The date was December 27, 2013. As if that lacked in folly, Ekweremadu commanded his toadies in the district, including some “autonomous” royal fathers, such as Igwe Lawrence Chime of Ugbonabor and Igwe Jerome Okeke of Ngene Ugbo to publicly denounce me for daring to oppose their Excellency.

This last election season, obviously rattled that my presidential bid could inspire opposition in the constituency and threaten his ageless grip on the people, Ekweremadu sponsored his aides to tear down my posters around Enugu State. They even had the audacity to invade my country home on August 10, 2018, beating up my campaign officials, as well as some family members. It took the timely intervention of Ugbo youths to avert counterattack and bloodshed. Of course, I alerted the senator and some relevant authorities in the state. Besides the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo; and Ogbuagu Anikwe, the spokesman of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who registered strong displeasure; Ike Ekweremadu never apologized nor condemned the thuggery. But this pattern of do-or-die, remember, is how he has sustained power.

The bigger problem, however, is that no part of the South-East has seen any tangible development the 12 years Ekweremadu held the power. Today, the only major public attraction in his entire local government is his mansion at Mpu, being one of his 32 choice properties currently under criminal investigation. Today, the three major roads that traverse his constituency, namely, Enugu-Onitsha, Enugu-PH, and Awgu-Oji-River highways are among the ten worst highways in the country. Today, most major projects in Igboland have only been good for election propaganda and money-spinning by the area politicians through series of funded but abandoned contracts. Needless to mention that the Part II of this essay will demonstrate how Ekweremadu used and dumped the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for his personal interest.

Ekweremadu’s imprint at the national level does not need to be retold here. Consider, for instance, his ignorable role as a ringleader in the third-term plot to derail our democracy and elongate Obasanjo’s tenure. Combine the subversive act with the fact that Ekweremadu was one of the brains behind the jumbo salary for Senators, as well as the Constituency Project scheme, which has cost the country trillions without any meaningful project to show. Further, despite being palm handed N10 billion under President Jonathan to influence the amendment of the Constitution towards restructuring, including the additional states and local governments, the only result Nigerians have seen are tales after tales.

It is clear the grievances against Ekweremadu by IPOB are profoundly justified. But physical assault must be condemned as well. Petitions, picketing, booing, jeering, and heckling are proper. In fact, the nature of the German protest remains at risk of turning Ekweremadu, the villain, into a victim. Notice how he quickly resorted back to his familiar mélange of propaganda and profligacy upon arrival in Nigeria, shamelessly chartering aircrafts, renting ever-ready crowds, and portraying himself as a hero—for being disgraced on his plot to remain Deputy Senate President for life and later flogged naked at a fake New Yam Festival in faraway Germany, while his direct constituency is under siege by terror herdsmen.

The Nigerian masses, particularly the Igbo, have suffered massive neglect the last 12 years Ike Ekweremadu held sway as the de facto Senate President. But the senator is not alone. The Diaspora Nigerians should, therefore, unite and quickly initiate a Hall of SHAME where the likes of Ike Ekweremadu deserve a permanent place. Yes, it portends a crime against the humanity to continue to allow Nigerian corrupt leaders to enjoy freedom in foreign lands if they cannot guarantee freedom for the masses in their homeland.

  • SKC Ogbonnia, a 2019 APC presidential aspirant, is the author of the Effective Leadership Formula.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Oriental Times or any employee thereof.

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Opinion

Breaking News From Aso Villa

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By Femi Adesina

Quite a challenging week it has been for Nigeria, and, indeed, the rest of the world. Except perhaps in China only, where the affliction started from, figures of Coronavirus infections continue to mount in other parts of the world. Italy and Spain have been particularly badly hit.

But as the world reels under the impact of a most pernicious pandemic, a suicide bomber wreaking deadly havocs, merchants of fake, hateful news remain fully at work. Aso Villa, the seat of presidential authority, has been their focus for most of the week. They have kept churning out spurious reports after the other about President Muhammadu Buhari, and some other people who work with him. If you choose to believe them, the President by now has even been evacuated, and is receiving medical attention at an undisclosed location somewhere in the wide world.

Breaking news from Aso Villa. That is what you have had day after day. And each time I am contacted to authenticate one story or the other, I tell the enquirers that the Presidential Villa is part of the world, part of humanity, and the people there are not immune from what is happening in the rest of the world.

But the outright fake, hateful news, I have ignored all week. Not a word in response. How do you begin to give wings to concocted stories through responses that will make the falsehood fly faster? No, purveyors of wickedness should not have the satisfaction of drawing us out all the time, and getting some tacit endorsement for their flight of fancy.

A top aide of the President tested positive early in the week. He is receiving adequate care, and he has our best wishes. But for the sinister minds, it was floodgate to all sorts of malediction. All sorts of Breaking News followed:

‘Intensive care machines brought into Aso Rock.’ ‘President Buhari coughing ceaselessly.’ ‘PMB under intensive care.’ ‘Adesina among those who accompanied Abba Kyari to Kogi.’ (I never did). ‘Garba Shehu under self-isolation.’ ‘Buhari may be smuggled out of the country, as condition worsens.’ And by yesterday, a recorded message started circulating on WhatsApp, saying President Buhari had been sneaked out of the country. To where? By who? Their fecund imaginations did not say.

And more Breaking News: ‘Buhari bans journalists from covering Aso Villa.’ (A man supposedly in intensive care was still banning reporters. Lol). ‘Buhari in self-isolation’ (Yet he was in the office on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, even receiving visitors). ‘Aso Villa shut down.’ And the vile beat goes on…

Why do some people conjure nothing but evil? Why do they imagine vain things? In 2017, while President Buhari had his medical challenge, they were on orgy of negative wishes, misinformation, and disinformation. But God pulled a fast one on them. He brought the President back, as right as rain. Haven’t they learned their lessons?

With the good people, however, positive things are happening. Tony Elumelu’s UBA is giving N5 billion to help Nigeria and Africa. Abdusamad Rabiu (BUA) has donated one billion Naira in cash. . Folorunsho Alakija has imported test kits and other materials for Nigerians, worth hundreds of millions of Naira. Aliko Dangote, after an initial donation of N200 million to combat Coronavirus, is leading top bankers and the private sector generally to raise aid. GTBank has donated a 100 beds care center. The Redeemed Christian Church of God has provided ventilators. And many more. These are the people and organizations that should define us as a people, not the conjurers of wickedness and doomsday. God is surely greater than them. And Nigeria too.

~ Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity. 

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Opinion

COVID-19: A War Without Arms

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Alas! It’s a global novel virus.

It started as an epidemic outbreak in China,

Now, it has snowballed into a pandemic,
Spreading like Australia wide fire,

Attacking at a speed swifter than light,
Killing its victims like an angry vulture,

It is Corona Virus, nicknamed COVID-19.
It has no regards for boundaries, personalities, and affluence.

COVID-19 has brought down governments without firing any arms.

It brought nations to their knees without minding their military strengths nor have regards for the sophisticated ballistic and chemical weapons in their arsenals.

The foundation of many establishments are shaken and threatened to core.

It has dazed and rendered world powers powerless.

It has brought down respected and exalted institutions.

Global economy is at a standstill and steadily nose-diving,

The world economy is fast crumbling under the fold of the riotous virus.
It has made a global mockery of world best medical think tanks.

Nations have no choice than to lockdown
The streets of popular cities are deserted, now turned ghost cities.

The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of human’s without respect to race, color or language.

It revealed the humanity in human.

The panic pang of watching fellow humans fall helplessly to the gruesome hand of COVID-19 is terrifying.

Sooner or later, the world would have a relief from the fist tight fold of the ravaging pandemic.

And when it finally bids the world a goodbye, after its irreparable havoc on humanity,

When friends and families painfully reminiscence the traumatic experience of losing someone so dear to their hearts,

I hope it would lead us to better appreciate little things which are often regarded as inconsequential but in reality, they are the most consequential.

~ Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE.

A Postgraduate student, University of Ibadan.

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Opinion

Coronavirus: The Nigerian Dream Cure

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By SKC Ogbonnia

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), which has compelled people to stay within their localities, illuminates the genius of the ageless adage: charity begins at home. It has exposed the malignant ignorance within Nigerian leaders who prefer foreign medical treatment while neglecting the amenities at home. The COVID-19 has profoundly exposed the nature and scope of the Nigerian healthcare crisis. Yet, every cloud has a silver lining!

SKC Ogbonnia

SKC Ogbonnia

The recent coronavirus controversy in Enugu is a perplexing preface. A 70-year old woman was suspected to be carrying the virus. But there is no laboratory capable of administering the COVID-19 test in the entire Eastern Region. Thus, it took several days before the test result could arrive from faraway Irrua in Edo State. Though the result returned negative, the woman had already died while isolated in a squalor at a grungy ESUT Teaching Hospital complex. The irony is that this incident took place in Enugu—of all places, the Igbo flagship metropolis that has no excuse to lag in development, having served as the capital of Eastern Region, capital of Biafra, capital of East Central State, capital of the old Anambra State; and currently the capital of Enugu State. This predicament only goes to ridicule the faculty of the globally renowned Igbo intelligentsia that parades Enugu as its sanctum.

The most mind-boggling yet is the situation in Northern Nigeria. Though the North is the perennial epicenter of the national healthcare crisis, it never dawned on the politicians to establish standard laboratories for testing a disease like Coronavirus in the entire region, besides an outfit at the nation’s capital, Abuja. To test for the virus. those in Sokoto will have to travel over 650 km while those in Maiduguri must commit 845 kilometers before reaching Abuja. One can only wonder the wisdom of the Northern leaders, widely celebrated for strategic vision in gaining power, but who continually fail to maximize such power towards the common good of their people.

In a 2015 essay, “Every Nigerian Blood Is On The Line”, I drew attention to the ignorance of Nigerian leaders, who tend to forget that good leadership is vitally important to both the led and the leader. I enumerated the embarrassing cases of highly placed politicians from the immediate past administration who lost their close relatives because they failed to provide good amenities in the local communities, such as President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience Jonathan, Namadi Sambo, David Mark, and Ike Ekweremadu, among others.

Also remember the strong man of Ibadan politics, Lamidi Adedibu, who died on his way to procure traveling documents towards a foreign medical trip. Equally relative is the case of Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Alex Ekwueme. These two prominent men suffered stroke in the same Enugu at different times but had to allow a few weeks to stabilize before embarking on foreign treatment. Before they could reach their British destinations, their situations worsened. Neither Ojukwu nor Ekwueme made it back home alive. Needless to mention sitting Head of State Sani Abacha and President Umar Yar’Adua, who died at the Aso Villa, under questionable health conditions.

The crisis conundrum is that the current leaders still do not seem to get it. Nigeria’s top office holders, including President Buhari, embrace foreign medical treatment as a second nature. But that was then—definitively then!

The point, if it is not already apparent, is that coronavirus has emerged as a quintessential equalizer. It has provoked a national consciousness and common sense, by consequence. The pandemic has made it imperative that people, both rich and poor, must seek prevention or treatment in their immediate environment. The elites may be accorded the usual preferential treatment, quite alright, but any attempt to ignore the masses, as in the past, is a poisoned chalice.

The foregoing thesis becomes more compelling, when considered that the threat of the COVID-19 in Nigeria is real. Though there are only 44 confirmed cases as at the time of this essay, the low number simply signifies lack of adequate testing centers. A forewarning is that out of those 44 cases, 35 were in the Western Region, being the cluster where 4 out of the 5 testing laboratories in the country are located. It is also not a coincidence that both the East and the Far-North are yet to record any case. Their common denominator is plainly the absence of testing centers in those zones. Moreover, testing for the COVID-19, for now, remains an elitist agenda. But the truth remains that every Nigerian life is on the line.

A dream cure, therefore, is a revolutionary approach that can sufficiently address the Nigerian short and long-term healthcare needs. Besides any mitigation measures or cure for the COVID-19, Nigeria must, without any delay, equip and modernize to international standards eight existing university teaching hospitals. While six of such hospitals should be spread in the six political zones, the remaining two would be allocated to Abuja and Lagos. This revolutionary plan is well studied, and the goal is twofold: First, it will significantly improve the national healthcare delivery for the ordinary Nigerian people. Second, it will be able to treat the Nigerian leaders and stem the shameless pattern of medical tourism in foreign lands.

Establishing eight world-class hospital—within one year—is not rocket science. The sources for the financial and the human resources are equally well studied. The budget for the hospitals is $8 billion. The most cost-efficient is direct funding through crude oil, its hazy market and politics notwithstanding. A plain source is to plug out $12 billion from the now suspended 2016-2018 External Borrowing of $22.7 billion proposed by President Buhari. While $8 billion goes for the hospitals, the remaining $4 billion will be dedicated to mitigating the coronavirus pandemic. Phase II will target the state capitals and so on…

The dream cure is neither politics nor business as usual. It should be executed by a Healthcare Revolutionary Council (HRC) that can include these notable patriots: Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Omoyele Sowore, Akinwumi Adesina, Adeleke Mamora, Femi Falana, Bartholomew Nnaji, Ngozi Iweala, Oby Ezekwesiri, Ogbonnaya Onu, Kanayo Ubesie, Donald Duke, Pat Utomi, Ben Murray-Bruce, Festus Keyamo, Muhammadu Sanusi II, Nasir el-Rufai, Obadiah Mailafia, Nuhu Ribadu, Aisha Buhari, Shehu Sani, Mathew Kukah, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Hameed Ali, Yakubu Dogara, Aisha Al-Hassan, Audu Ogbe, Iorwuese Hagher, Natasha Akpoti, Yakubu Mohammed, and Abubakar Sani Bello.

SKC Ogbonnia writes from Ugbo, Enugu State, Nigeria
Twitter @ SKCOgbonnia

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