By Ephraim Ugwu
THE three-time Deputy President of Senate and former Speaker African Parliament, Professor Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, last Tuesday, assembled the creme de la creme of Enugu politics from all the 17 Local Governments of Enugu State. At a very posh hotel in Enugu, at what he dubbed a ‘ Breakfast Meeting ‘, the boisterous Senator, decked in Igbo traditional Isiagu attire and cap to match, made it very businesslike. It was interactive after buffet meals, and had to make his historical delivery laced with such effervescence, keeping his audience spell bound with rapt attention.
The opening prayers set the stage of the high octane gathering and what to expect. The pastor was audacious and said inter alia, that the Heavens were happy with the host. He committed him to the protection of God and urged the revered Senator to put forward his hands and he did what was common in Pentecostalism, the ‘impartation ‘on his two palms. He wound up the prayers by ordering the guests to shout a thunderous Alleluah 13 times for the Biblical Wall of Jericho to collapse, thus committing him to God for the journey ahead, in becoming the next Governor of Enugu State.
The Senator speaking extemporaneously reeled out his plans for Enugu to make it an Eldorado of a place that would become the pride of all and a cynosure of all eyes not only from the African continent but the entire world. He dwelt on the economic perspective, social, cultural and making the youths gainfully employed by industrialisation policy, amongst others.
“I was four years when the war broke out and after my secondary school, taught briefly at the popular St Vincent’s Secondary School, where the burning interest of becoming a lawyer caught up with most teachers in the college. My interest had been in the sciences but my colleagues whipped up the passion for law.
“Six of us teachers sat for the exam, but I was the only one chosen then. On completion of my law degree, and going to Law School in Lagos, had planned to open my law firm in Jos but the uprising then, made me to return to Enugu along Ogui road and had my chambers there. The present Governor, His Excellency Dr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had his Insurance firm close to my office. We have been friends for over 30 years. Daily, we ended up at a local restaurant where we dined together and exchanged pleasantries and banters. Our two wives collaborate and that is why I laugh at people who think we are at daggers drawn. As this meeting wind up, I am moving straight to Orba in Nsukka Governor’s country home to wish him compliments of the Yuletide season.
“In my political journey, I had twice been recommended for Ministerial appointments by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, but the Governor then Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani did not want to release me because he felt I had greater assignments to do for our people back home. I personally took the letter and ferried the man who later became Minister in Obasanjo’s government from Enugu State, Chief Dubem Onyia to Abuja. With all modesty and humility, I am not looking for work, I am not desperate, but seeking a greater opportunity to work with all Enugu people and stakeholders on our program of action, that would turn Enugu State into the economic and tourist hub of not only Nigeria but Africa.
“We need to position our state so much so that any visitor coming to Nigeria for the first time cannot beat his or her chest as having seen the country in its entirety, without coming over to Enugu State. We would build on the foundation laid by the present Governor and employing the methodology of Creative Thinking and Opportunities to achieve our goals. They are achievable and attainable. If you are a creative government there are several things you can circumvent and pull surprises. A couple of days back some progressive minded young men came to me with proposals of automobile manufacturing. My take is no one on earth manufactures vehicles but what prevails is assembling.
“What is needed is to upgrade and assemble. The China example readily comes to mind. Every Chinese family is encouraged to produce one or more parts in a larger Assembly Vehicle family. This way everyone is busy and contributes to the economy and equally earns a living. Owing to my vast experience and travels, I have the Singaporean model to fashion out. There is the latest Carbon Credit that rules the world and even our God given crop of Ogbolor crops are in high demand in far away Norway. Pity, no statistics of road networks that are either bad or done in Nigeria ditto electricity power supply in the country. Insecurity and kidnapping are bye products of terrible state of bad roads, which makes innocent Nigerians fall prey to bandits and kidnappers.
“There is Autoband Roads in Germany, with cars and vehicles doing a steady 120-160 mph , making it impossible for any attack by hoodlums because the road is first class. This is my thought and plan for Enugu State. I am amazed that not up to five states in the country have factored new industries to employ the tens and thousands of our young ones out of school. Once we provide jobs, the rate of insecurity would drop drastically. Dubai was a backward nation 25 years ago, had to loan its first aircraft from Pakistan, today the story is different the profit making Emirates, tell the success story. We have a gold mine on our hands in Enugu via tourism. Potentiality of tourism is better imagined. Enugu is the back bone of cinematography, pioneering the Nolywood film making industry. A Film Village would be a foreign exchange earner, just as Europeans rake lots of hard currencies with their film industry.
“Enugu has always been peaceful and a place to treasure, but unfortunately with the hype on politicking, it is sadly degenerating to an unfortunate hooliganism. If the epitaph on the former Governor Sullivan Chime is to be written, there will be a sizeable chapter devoted to his stamping out completely thuggery and banditry in Enugu State. Sadly it has resurrected and it is returning with such venom. All we need do is to raise the quality of our arguments and not resort to vile speeches, and show of physical assault in the quest of political power. Our forefathers that created Enugu State Chief C C Onoh, Barrister Enechi Onyia, Chief Charles Abangwu, to name but a few, conceptualised a state where we all would be happy , there would be no discrimination since we have a common language, culture and inter related.
“My dream is to foist on Enugu people, the Singaporean model of both economy and social relationships. In Singapore there are Indians, Chinese and Malaysians, that country had challenges but quickly conquered and solved that blemish. By the Grace of God, we shall together build a City State not a fractured state. Not one where brothers would be threatening their brothers and sisters that they would dangle cutlasses. We have said NO to banditry and thuggery and will never return to such dangerous oddities again in Enugu State by the grace of God. I will engage more of our people; engage the youths and women and intensify collaborative efforts at dialogue and emphasising on competence, capacity to deliver, and disabuse disunity,” Ekweremadu said.
Speaker after speaker paid glowing tributes to his humility, heart of meek of human kindness by floating an Ikeoha Educational Foundation which has continued to help and assist students by providing them scholarships to study but at home and overseas. One particular guest, who had arrived from the United States of America, had shared the strong sentiments expressed by some Igbo in the Diaspora. They hold strongly the views that if only Enugu State will replicate what happened in Anambra State last November and getting it right to elect a very competent and vast experienced technocrat politician, in their very words ‘Ala Igbo’, would have hit it 100 percent set for development.
Some others urged the Senator to take special interest in insecurity and kidnapping in particular areas of the state, which he promised to take up, including undue and incessant harassment of Oganiru Social group and those associated with him. The end of year get together of what can pass for Senator Ike Ekweremadu indicating that he would throw his hat into the ring as soon as the curtain is drawn, had in attendance top political pundits from the state, including the Minority Chief Whip, erudite Toby Okechukwu, members of the National Assembly, State House of Assembly, Chairmen of Councils, the academia, women and youth groups.
It painted a picture of the Shakespearean verses. Remember Caesar, remember Mark Anthony, the proletariat converging to listen to him speak, his cathecism of knowledge and speech. It was Shakespear’s Hamlet that epitomised the true situation ‘Take me, Take a King, Take a King, take a Soldier. Senator Ekweremadu conversely had told his beloved Enugu people, to “take your son, take competence, experience and proficiency; take me, to the famed Lion Building at Independence Layout seat of government, come 2023.” Let philosophers therefore be kings like the Roman Jews, one would unambiguously say.
_Dr Ugwu is a public analysts and author_
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