POLSCOPE with Eddy Odivwri
Last weekend, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, was attacked in Germany. His attackers are his kinsmen. He was not attacked because he committed any crime or broke any Nigerian or German law. His attackers claim that he had been a symbol of the oppressive Nigerian system, which helped to proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a self-determination group, led by a certain Nnamdi Kanu.
The same Kanu had vowed to excise the South East geo-political group from the Nigerian federation, seeming to re-ignite the quenched fire of secession which the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had lit, over 50 years ago.
He was arrested and detained for over two years in Kuje prison, Abuja, while undergoing prosecution.
He was eventually granted bail, following the push by some Igbo leaders, including Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe and the same Ike Ekweremadu, who was then the Deputy President of the Senate..
Kanu not only broke all the conditions of the bail he was granted, he indeed started stoking the fire of violence and disquiet, especially in the south east. This led to the intervention of the military which launched Operation Python Dance, to quell what was perceived as uprising.
The same Kanu whose apostles were already terrorizing native folks in the South East, managed to escape the siege in his home, in Abia, fled to the creeks from where he found his way to Malaysia, then UK, then Israel and intensified the broadcast of the Biafran Radio, thus jumping the bail he was granted. .
On several occasions, his followers in Nigeria had led open protests in some Nigerian cities and towns, especially in the South east region, with frequent declaration of sit-at-home orders. At other times, the protests had turned bloody and fatal.
From outside the country, Kanu had been hurling darts on the Nigerian government .
The attack on Ekweremadu, last weekend, represents the next level of the offensives from the proscribed IPOB.
It is perhaps more frightening that the body had promised to attack more Nigerian leaders, especially of Igbo extraction, in Europe and other parts of the world. That is grave.
Perhaps as a result of the threat, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State, has suddenly declined the invitation to partake in the New Yam festival in Valencia, Spain. He had earlier confirmed his readiness to attend the ceremony.
The governor of Imo State, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha has also turned down an invitation for a New Yam festival ceremony in the United States of America. Nobody wants to be a second victim of what has become known as the “Ekwremadu treatment”.
Worse still, IPOB has promised N1 million bounty for anyone who gives travel advisory of notable Igbo leaders to any part of Europe. That, certainly has implanted some scare on Nigerian leaders of lgbo extraction.
Beside the errant IPOB, I do not know anyone who has not condemned the barbaric act in the attack on Ekweremadu. The attack could have turned fatal if the Enugu-born senator had not run for his life. His clothes were torn on him. A newspaper headline said he was “battered”.
The same thoughtlessness could also make the group attack somebody like Senator Abaribe, who not only risked his integrity but also his money and other valuables to guaranty the bail of Kanu. Abaribe sure has a case to answer with the judiciary as the person he stood bail for , has long broken bounds and jumped bail.
The attack on Ekweremadu and the threat to attack more Igbo leaders is thus a huge show of ingratitude.
It also bespeaks of the immaturity and dumb catechism of the IPOB ideology which seems to be that anyone who does not support it is an enemy who must be brought down.
Indeed many of the IPOB members are anything but literate or informed. They have closed minds and impervious to critical reasoning and thinking.
In demonstrating some large-heartedness, a humbled Ekweremadu blamed the attack on the effect of alcohol and drugs on the part of his attackers. And like Stephen in the Bible, he forgave them. Statesmanly!
But despicable as the attack is, there are, I think , a few lessons that can be gleaned from it.
First, Nigerians are fast growing out of the docile bracket. What that means is that leaders at whatever level must become citizens-conscious. They must be mindful of what the citizens are going through, courtesy of the programmes, actions and inactions of the leaders.
Elected or appointed leaders must begin to mind and pursue the interest of the public. This can neither be discounted nor taken for granted. Not anymore.
The age where anything goes is fast fading out. The citizenry are far more aware, daring and courageous to take on any leader, group of leaders or even the system that is reprehensible and oppressive, whether in Nigeria or outside Nigeria.
Another lesson from the incident is that leaders cannot or should not take their security for granted. It is not only in Nigeria should they be security conscious. If Ekweremadu took this serious, he would have got some intelligence on how safe or not the venue of the event is before launching out of his hotel room.
As it has been shown, enemies abound, and all leaders need to do what a Christian hymn prescribes: watch and pray.
Perhaps the other lesson to be learnt from the shameful show is that leaders must be bold and courageous to condemn evil and wrongdoing without pandering to primordial sentiments of geography , region or religion, , no matter whose ox is gored.
Without being exactly explicit, the tone of condemnation (if any) from the Igbo leaders against the secessionist tendency of IPOB, and before it MASSOB has been tepid, obviously because of what the Yorubas call the tiwa-tiwa syndrome.
Some Igbo leaders and elite may have given some sort of support to Nnamdi Kanu simply because “he is our son”, irrespective of the fact that what he was campaigning for was and still despicable. Such leaders may have inadvertently ridden on the back of the tiger, and right now, the tiger is ready to even consume them. So the point being made is that wherever evil dwells should be condemned and resisted, no matter the name, status or colour of who is involved.
All said, may it be that Ekweremadu has become the metaphor for good and responsible governance. His experience in the hands of the Germany-based IPOB members remains a valid lesson for all those who parade our space as leaders. They must connect with the led, on the right and noble paths only.