By Chiedozie Ogbonnia
Almost all the countries in Africa have remained in a suspended animation This is partly because most of the African leaders lack the necessary vision, passion, intellectual prowess, insight and charisma, thus often relying on ethnic and religious sentiments to sustain support and followership. Perhaps, the most devastating in the African incumbents is the exhibition of arrogance in power. Once elected, they display a nauseating hubris, megalomania and false consciousness that tend to disconnect them from the electorate.
Sustainable democracy anywhere in the world is a function of the presence or the lack of noble men of conscience, selflessness, patriotism and transcendence; and their will power to pursue the ideals of common good in spite of the base impulses to the contrary. Some argue in favour of strong political institutions over the role of men in society-building; but institutions of all categories are created by men, either of good or ill will. Emphatically, institution-building requires heroes of strong ethical persuasion and impeccable moral stamina.
The commonest definition of a hero is “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities”. A deeper meaning of hero lies more in vision, courage, frontier spirit, selflessness, tenacity, passion and sacrifice. The hero is like the Titan of Rhodes, a trail blazer that does not tread the beaten paths. While it lies in the domain of the exceptional hero to develop a formidable will power to ignore the base elements and vices, and embody the godly virtues, it is not all heroes that can resist the devouring impulse of vices. Therefore, whereas the godly can be heroes, all heroes cannot, in every definition of it, be godly.
It is therefore very heartwarming to find in our clime an exceptional hero; a rare quintessence of humility in power; a reflective intellectual giant; humane and selfless courageous leader, moral edifice, great political thinker and navigator, philosopher and visionary who in spite of his length of time in government remains accessible. That exceptional hero persona is Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, PhD, CFR, Ikeoha Ndigbo. He is the author of Who Will Love My Country: Ideas for Building the Nigeria of Our Dreams and the lead author of Constitutional Review in an Emerging Democracy: The Nigerian Experience
Who Will Love My Country excavates all the pathologies in Nigeria, and robustly proffered lasting solutions. In that seminal book, Ikeoha bemoans the level of corruption in Nigeria and the need for special Anti-Corruption Courts; the unfair distribution of resources; re-federalization of Nigeria on a six geopolitical structure; alternative revenue sources against the feeding bottle federalism; decentralized policing system; proportional representation in government , etc In the book lies the key that will unlock Nigeria and create a society premised on rationality, integrity and accountability.
The Ikeoha Leadership Paradigm resonates with the observation made by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo that only the deep can call to the deep. Awolowo adds that “while his contemporaries engage in full liaison with strong alcohol and women of easy virtues, he is busy reflecting on the problems and solutions surrounding Nigeria”. Our heroes past were thoughtful and cerebral as can be found in the Path to Nigerian Greatness and the Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution- by Awolowo or Ideology for Nigeria: Capitalism, Socialism or Welfarism?-by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Such personages are what Plato would qualify as Philosopher Kings. It strikes the psyche that the foresight, passion, depth and ingenuity with which our heroes past tried to solve the Nigerian problems are in sharp contrast with the present day provenance of shoddiness and primitive acquisition of wealth.
According to an observer, Nigeria has selected/elected its leaderships based on the sentiments of tribe, religion and zonalicity but none has worked. He contends that only detribalized men of ideas; the Philosopher King archetype that can salvage Nigeria from her chains of catastrophe.
One common denominator among heroes is the set of virtues such with which the heroes confront their challenges, especially in extreme adverse conditions. Ikeoha met his Mpu community, Aninri LGA, and several parts of Enugu West, including my community Ugbo, in an inconceivable labyrinth of darkness and backwardness. He used legislative power and social skills to lift them far above the standards among the average Igbo communities. When such sterling performance as a senator was to be truncated in 2015 using Enugu government machinery, the masses wept but like all heroes, he was undaunted. Indeed, the Ikeoha Mystique abhors hate and violence but uses soul force and love to overwhelm hatred and animosity. And like Phabius Maximus Verucossus, alias Cunctator (the Delayer) a General of the Roman Army during the epic war between Rome and Carthage, his subalterns would at extreme provocations expect him to fight but he would tactically stay put. But when the Ikeoha chose to fight, as a political colossus, he deployed all his arsenals and decisively defeated his opponents such that those who had misrepresented misunderstood and underrated him “turned round to shower him with praise: Unos homo nobis, Cunctator restituit rem”
When again his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost to the opposition party, the All Peoples Congress (APC), the South South and the South East of Nigeria appeared to be the worst hit. The remarks by President Muhammadu Buhari with respect to patronage according to the voting pattern during the 2015 general election and the caustic triumphalism displayed by the APC aggravated matters. The old Eastern Region extraction agonized in pains. In the face of such despondency, Ikeoha remained courageous, unflappable and focused. The Ikeoha, rising from the ashes, like the phoenix of the Greek mythology and with an unprecedented political geometry clinched the position of the Deputy President of the Senate from a minority party. The incredulity, amazement, tears of joy and jubilation galore that greeted his emergence across the globe reinforced the belief that the exceptional heroes are God-sent.
Ike Ekweremadu was born of a very humble background on May 12,1962 at Mpu, Aninri LGA of Enugu State;, attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka(UNN) Enugu campus for both the LLB and LLM degrees; and a BL. He holds the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Law from the University of Abuja. He also acquired leadership trainings both at the Harvard University and the Oxford University. He served in the UNN as a lecturer in the Faculty of Law; was elected the Mpu Town Union President; Chairman Aninri Local Government; Chief of Staff, Government House, Enugu; Secretary to the Enugu State Government; elected senator four consecutive times; three times Deputy President of the Senate; Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament; etc.
Ekweremadu is happily married to Nwanneka Ekweremadu, PhD, whose inner feminine qualities play an archetypal role in the Ikeoha sub-conscious. The marriage is blessed with four lovely children.
––Ogbonnia is the Special Adviser on Public Affairs to the Deputy President of the Senate
By Chiedozie Ogbonnia