Kene Obiezu pays tribute to Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President, at age 60
Great leaders are hardly born under comfortable circumstances surrounded by a bevy of midwives. Often, great leaders are born in battle with battle cries drowning out the cries of labour.
In spite of the lean harvest of good leaders Nigeria has always got from its political fields, occasionally, the sickle goes in to the same fields where irredeemably poor soil and a swarm of locusts combine for miserable harvests and draws the rare ripe ear of corn.
Each time a good fruit has been raked in as a political harvest, the precedent is usually marked by some unmistakable traits: of humble beginnings and a slow, ardous rise to power. In the overwhelming Nigerian experience of bad governance, the politicians who have stood out have been those possessing these traits; those who truly went the whole hog to be elected into office.
Not those rigged into office or those who relied on the corrupt patronage of some political godfather with a paunch. Enter Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, the Senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
The recent occasion of his 60th birthday has given Nigerians across ethnic and party divides the opportunity to celebrate a diamond of Nigerian legislation, one whose adamantine disposition to people-oriented legislation has only gotten better with age like vintage wine.
A Senator since 2003 and thrice Deputy President of the Senate, many remember what a team the learned law teacher, chairman of Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu State, Chief of Staff to the Governor and Secretary to the Enugu State Government formed with then Senate President Mr. Bukola Saraki in the Eighth Senate and how together with their colleagues they kept both the executive and judicial arms of government on their toes unlike the obsequious legislators we have today.
A strident voice for Igbos across Nigeria, even an egregious attack on his person by the IPOB in 2019 when he honoured an invitation to a new yam festival in Germany did not break his spirit.
A philanthropist to the core, through his Ikeoha Foundation, Mr. Ekweremadu has brought succor to the most deprived of his constituents as well as many Nigerians across ethnic and religious divides.
Of course, it has been the Nigerian experience that many legislators go to the National Assembly, observe ample snooze time and take home fat paychecks at the end of the day. These legislators instead of contributing their own quota to law-making go to the National Assembly only there to make up the numbers. They open their eyes only when it is time for fisticuffs, and when their itchy fingers are not grabbing funds meant for constituency projects they have no intention of carrying out, they are grabbing at the mace to be used as a weapon.
Mr. Ekweremadu is the quintessence of what a legislator should be. He is humane, humble, highly independent and possessing matchless integrity. As he clocks 60, many of his slumbering colleagues at the National Assembly who do nothing but nurse their paunches surely have a thing or two to learn from this diamond and doyen of Nigerian legislation.
As one trailblazer prepares to leave the Enugu State Government House next year in a blaze of glory, there is no one better to take his place than another trailblazer, one who is a global icon of Nigerian legislation.
Indeed, while the National Assembly has given Enugu State some legislators who have helped to transform the fortunes of the state in different capacities, the same cannot be said for many other states where aggrieved constituents have had cause to cast stones at their own legislators.
For Enugu State, it is not just a sure stone that would prove its foundation come next year, it is a diamond – a priceless jewel of Nigerian legislation. He is Ikeoha Ndigbo.