By Chuks Okocha, Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu in Abuja
It was a special day of recognition for the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe, as senators, political associates and friends eulogised him at a book launch to mark his 66th birthday.
The book, an autobiography, titled: ‘Made in Aba: A life of Coincidences’, was written by Senator Abaribe.
Those who spoke at the book launch eulogised Abaribe as a courageous, honest and fearless politician, who always speaks truth to power irrespective of the circumstance.
According to the former Governor of Anambra State and the vice presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election, Peter Obi, described Abaribe as legislator who always speaks truth to power, saying: “Senator Abaribe hates injustice and oppression; he is courageous and speaks power to power.”
Former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, described Abaribe as a colossus, saying there must come a time when someone has to stand up to defend his people, and that was exactly what the Senate minority leader is doing in his political life-both in the Senate and his public life.
Anyim said Abaribe is one who always takes a decision and stands by it without swerving or negotiating to his decisions.
Also, Prof Pat Utomi, who wrote the Forward of the book, said there is a big gulf between those in government and those in public life, explaining that best option is to ensure that there is no loss of integrity of character for those in public office.
He used the opportunity to urge politicians and others holding public offices to ensure that their character is always intact in and out of office.
According to him, “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost, but when character is lost, all is lost,” stating that the problem with Nigeria is all about loss of character.
In his remark, the Minister of State for Health, Senator Oluromimbe Mamora, described Abaribe as a man who believes in the conviction of his conscience, and a man of strength of character. He urged politicians to write their stories to avoid their history being muddled up.
The National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Umar Tsuari, on his own, said the Senate minority leader speaks truth to power, stating that the PDP is enjoying the shade of Abaribe, who he also described as the defender of the defenseless and oppressed Nigerians.
In his response, the celebrant, Abaribe, wondered why Nigeria could enjoy better life in the 1960s with electricity, good roads and pipe bone water, only for those good things of life to elude Nigerians now in the new millennium.
He lamented that life in the 1960s was based on promotion of merit, unlike the case in the new millennium, which he said was based on tribal sentiments. He also lamented that Nigeria has regressed into an ethnic conclave.
Meanwhile, the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, who urged Senator Abaribe not to give up of his courageous lifestyle of defending the defenseless, urged him not be afraid to speak truth to power.
Ikpeazu also used the occasion to reply Senator Smart Adeyemi, who called him a drunk.
He noted that he could not begrudge a mad man, explaining that that he was his response to Adeyemi for calling him a drunk.
The governor said the comment credited to Adeyemi “ not require any emotional bout since it was made by a mad man.”
Ikpeazu, who quoted Professor Chinua Achebe, reminisced on the line that “if a mad man picks the clothes of a man taking his bath and runs away, if the man runs after the mad man, nobody will know the real mad man.”
Ikpeazu told the audience that he does not drink or begrudge those who drink.
The book was reviewed by the Chairman of THISDAY Editorial Board, Segun Adeniyi.