Weep Not for Ekweremadu and Others
By Martins Oloja
At this time of scarcity of almost everything including scarcity of integrity, paucity of high moral standard, absence of strict regulators, shortage of good service providers, poverty of philosopher-kings, dearth of good writing, lack of good judgments, rarity of good men and women, scantiness of good husbands and wives, even uncommonness of good children, deficiency of righteousness, sparseness of good civil servants, scarcity of good public officers and nation builders, insufficiency of satisfied teachers, limitedness of working institutions of governance, etc, there are too many issues for columnists and commentators on public affairs.
What shall we say of a lingering crisis at our Supreme Court where there is a spirit of trade unionism, which is fast threatening to deface the Temple of Justice? What shall we say about the lingering university teachers strike that Nigerian leaders care less about? How do we deconstruct the fate and state of our democratisation now being threatened by vote buying and selling? How do we deal with widespread rumours that there are centres of registration of voters in Niger Republic that our leader once noted ‘only artificial boundaries separated us from’? How do we analyse the resurgence of our young ones now registering to vote for a particular candidate whose party leaders are nowhere to be found? What do we say or write about how energy crisis of fuel scarcity, poor electricity supply and high cost of diesel, aviation fuel and other petrochemical products are crippling businesses? What shall we make of an emerging fact that corruption has become a fundamental objective and directive principle of state policy in Buhari’s Nigeria? What can writers and public intellectuals say about the collapse of police force, security and intelligence amid perception that the most lucrative business in Africa’s richest nation today is abduction we generally call ‘kidnapping’? How do we ask our president why he campaigned to rule Nigeria in 2015? What should we write about our political leaders who are boasting all over the place that they indeed facilitated and funded the 2015 tragic errors that brought the current leadership? What can we write about a strange ‘it-is-my-turn’ manifesto of a major contender to the office of the president of Nigeria, Africa’s and the black race’s most significant nation?
I think the answers to most of the questions above should be allowed to blow in the wind this week as we now face the challenge of interpreting what just happened to our former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu. As we sympathise with the big man’s daughter, Sylvia who needs a kidney transplant, we need to tell all our political leaders again some inconvenient truth: that most of them have sinned and come short of the glory of God and so they should repent. We pray fervently for quick recovery for the innocent child, but we must quickly remind Ekweremadu and all the privileged members of his political class to note that it is the sour grapes that they have eaten that have actually set all our teeth on edge. For the purpose of understanding the issue here, let’s tag the construct, in this regard as Buhari’s Nigeria where Atiku Abubakar, Ike Ekweremadu, Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi, Ifeanyi Okowa (a physician), Doyin Okupe (a physician) have also served in various capacities – before 2015: Buhari, a former military head of state, has served for seven years and a month as an elected president; Atiku Abubakar was vice president for eight years (1999-2007); Ike Ekweremadu served as deputy president of the Senate for 12 years; Bola Tinubu served as Governor of Lagos State for eight years(1999-2007); Peter Obi served as Governor of Anambra state for eight years; Ifeanyi Okowa, a medical doctor (MD) has served for seven years and one month as Governor of Delta State. Most of those campaigning to replace Buhari and Osinbajo have had their opportunities to fund even their state and federal Teaching Hospitals to functional Standards where they can be examined and treated. They didn’t.
Specifically, Ekweremadu, a lawyer who holds a doctoral degree in Law and has served the Enugu State Government in higher capacity has been in the Senate for 20 years. He was Deputy Senate President for three terms of 12 years. In this capacity, he was also the chairman of joint Constitution Review Committee of the National Assembly. He presided over the first alteration of the provisions of the Constitution, among other strategic engagements. He had powers over so many budgetary issues including power to influence provisions for human services, namely, education and healthcare. He is a product of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) that he is aware has a College of Medicine and a Teaching Hospital. What has our own Ekweremadu done from his exalted office for even the UNN Teaching Hospital that is based in Enugu? The buck stops on the table of Buhari today. But what happened to the millions of dollars the Obasanjo administration earmarked to equip many Centres of Medical Excellence (Teaching Hospitals) in different geo-political zones in the country? Can we talk to Vice President Atiku what he knew about the strategic projects?
There is a sense in which we can call Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu too who has been commanding politics and policies of Western Region’s richest state, Lagos since 1999 a ‘president’ of some sort. Late last year, he was sighted in London for medical reasons when our own President Buhari too was in the same London for medical examination. Below is an excerpt of what I wrote on their London meeting here (titled), Buhari and Tinubu in London: The Significance (The Guardian, Sunday August 15, 2021, Back Page)…
‘..The two prominent leaders do not need any introduction. They are well known all over our world. One is leading the richest and most populous nation in Africa and indeed the black people of the world. The other one is leading the economic capital of West Africa. He was elected to lead the sixth largest economy in Africa barely 22 years ago. He was in office from 1999 to 2007 and has since 2007 till the present, been in power in the main nation within our nation. Yes, he rules in the commercial capital that harbours the only two functional sea ports in the country of more than two hundred million people scattered in six geo-political regions. The more powerful leader of our nation today had contested the position three times and failed before 2015 when he borrowed some political brilliance from the other more influential national leader of the ruling party – that year (2015). Those who knew the subterfuge approach that brought Muhammadu Buhari to power in 2015 continue to insist that the Great Jagaban Borgu, Bola Tinubu actually combined resources with another wise investor from Rivers State and an Artful Dodger from Kwara State, among other resourceful risk-takers who invested heavily in the man they advertised to us as the only solution to all our corrupt orientations.
‘This isn’t a piece to blame the 2015 wise investment of the ‘Three Musketeers’ who saw raw gullibility of men and imposed what was thrice a hard sell. It is not a time of lamentation about those who stirred the conscience of the nation in 2015 when some rainmakers triggered the rain that has been beating us since. This is just a note to deconstruct the significance or should I say the consequences of a chance meeting in London last week between the two great leaders I have been blabbing about – Buhari and Tinubu. They are great leaders. That is why they are in a great country where their minor ailments are being examined by some of the world’s greatest medical scientists so that they can continue their great work in their great ‘nations’ waiting for the greatness even Mandela foresaw before he flew away to the great beyond….
‘The other big man, whose cognomen is ‘Oba l’ola’, Yoruba people’s metaphor for ‘tomorrow’s king’ wasn’t around in his domain at the last Sallah celebration. He wasn’t in his empire a few weeks ago too when the crucial local government council elections were held. Yet his absence wasn’t noticed as they, as usual, won all the Council seats. Anyway that was how his supporters and indeed his people confirmed his rumoured medical condition, which has just been confirmed that it wasn’t a big deal, after all. He was seeing with the commander-in-chief he assisted to seize, I mean return to power in 2015. It can now be seen by all of us who have been circulating some dangerous intelligence that despite the secret pact so many eye-witnesses have hinted at, the lanky beneficiary of his 2015 stratagem would not honour the covenant to hand over to him, after all. We have all seen the great friends, political mentor and mentee together in London where it is said they have always met to renew their loyalty to each other concerning that #Covenant-2023. All doubting Thomases have thus seen that the two friends are as fit as fiddle. Don’t misconstrue the walking stick you thought you saw: it is a symbol of wisdom, which comes with old age. It is also a badge of royalty for Oba l’ola (Furure King) in the old Western region. Don’t read their body language anyhow in the United Kingdom. They are great men and we have all felt great seeing them together in high spirit. They need our great prayers for good health and indeed healing too for our great nation as Nigeria’s leader returned home at the weekend. It wasn’t clear whether ‘Oba l’ola’ too returned home at the weekend. And so as our leader has returned to his kingdom after the great summit on education and examination of his health in the United Kingdom, he should listen to the voices of wisdom and reason, which most of us have been reiterating since 2017 that Nigeria’s commander-in-chief should take advantage of his summits and health-care experiences in London to invest purposefully in even a few hospitals where our leaders and our people and indeed Africans can also be cared for…’
On May 14, 2017, I wrote an article too on this same issue (here), titled, ‘Dr. Samuel Manuwa, UCH Rebirth And Ailing President’ (https://guardian.ng/opinion/dr-samuel-manuwa-uch-rebirth-and-ailing-president/).
It was the same point I made here to our president Buhari who was then in the same London for a long time on medical grounds. This column had urged him to bless the memory of Nigeria’s first medical doctor, Dr. Manuwa by removing the incipient reproach of medical treatment abroad. He hasn’t listened five years after that observation here. Why therefore should we weep for Buhari, Ekweremadu and even Tinubu since they all continue to fly over our ill-equipped hospitals to London for medical treatment? As I was saying, why can’t they equip even the National and Teaching Hospitals in Abuja, Lagos and Enugu where they and their family members can enjoy medical examination and treatment?
Martins Oloja is a columnist with the Guardian