By Peter Claver Oparah
Less than three years in opposition, Ike Ekweremadu who is the highest ranking PDP member today is already baiting the military and reminding them that they can still take over power. Can you believe this? Pray what could make a Deputy Senate President to take this reckless bait? What could have made a man whose PDP celebrated his usurpation of the Deputy Presidency of the Senate as a major victory to now sound so patronizing to military intervention in the same democracy that has majorly benefitted him and his party in the last 18 years? What could have made Ekweremadu to act the Samson and try to goad the military to pull the house down on everyone, including him just three years in the opposition? As I said earlier, Ekweremadu is the highest ranking PDP member in Nigeria today, his views can rightly be said to agglomerate the opinion of the PDP. This is regardless that the PDP has, tongue-in-cheek, dissociated itself from Ekweremadu’s recklessness but its dissociation was delivered in such unconvincing manner that leaves more gaps.
It is attractive to say that Ekweremadu is so concerned about what he calls the receding democracy we have in Nigeria today? Sho? Compared with what we experienced during PDP’s 16 horrible years, especially in its last six years when Ekweremadu was so prominent as the Deputy Senate president, can one say in all honesty, that democracy is receding more than it did when PDP was here? Can one say that we are seeing more horrific defenestration of democracy as we saw when Ekweremadu was having a jolly good ride here with his PDP confederates? Can one say that democracy is more debased now than it was in the 16 years of PDP’s blitzkrieg? We shall comfortably answer these posers by directly quoting Ekweremadu so as to get what informed his bizarre treasonable statement and on the other hand, I will offer a sneak preview of some of the egregious assaults on democracy at the time Ekweremadu was making merry with his PDP before they were swept ashore on March 28, 2015. We will reproduce his statement on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday 7th March which sums in this line, ‘who says the army cannot take over?’. We shall also present, alongside his reckless comments, some cases of horrendous debasement of democracy that happened under the watch of Ekweremadu’s party and the government he was an inner player but which never led the opposition to bait the military or even remind Ekweremadu and his PDP that the military can still stage a coup.
Hear Ekweremadu’s full submission on a motion on the floor of the Senate;
“You will recall that sometime last year, they wanted to recall Dino. I advised the governor that they are (sic) wasting the resources of that state because it is mission impossible.
“They took pages in the newspaper abusing me. Are we still hearing the recall today? Money has been wasted. Money that has been used to pay salaries of people of Kogi State was used to mobilise people to recall Senator Dino yet those people have not been paid and Dino is still here.
“So today, I am advising the Governor again that road he is travelling will not lead him to anywhere. Ultimately, these people he is seeing here will be back here and he will leave office. If he doesn’t stop, there is no how he will come back in 2019, never, no he will not. God will show him that he is a God of justice and this is a message to all those people who have caused all kinds of problem in Nigeria at a different level. The problem in Nigeria is that our democracy is receding. Who says army cannot take over? Let us not joke with our democracy, that is the issue.
“The house of a senator was destroyed in Kaduna State; we are talking about Kwankwaso who was stopped from going to his state where he ruled for eight years. In Kaduna, Shehu Sani cannot organize a meeting and we are about democracy? The international community needs to know this because they helped install this democracy”.
Now, let us revisit some of the serious constitutional breaches and serious assaults on democracy Ekweremadu’s PDP impudently carried out in the six years when Ekweremadu was an inner core player. We are not bothering revisiting the many acts of impunity Ekweremadu’s PDP did in their 16 years in power for we may have to borrow spaces to accommodate them all. We will rather limit our focus on the six years of the last PDP government where Ekweremadu was a Deputy Senate President and enjoyed rare presence in PDP government’s kitchen cabinet for the whole six years.
The PDP government where Ekweremadu was an inner player ignominiously sacked the then President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami on the fear that he stood to dispense justice in the presidential election tribunal hearing the case against Jonathan’s election in 2011. Even when the National Judicial Council ordered his reinstatement, Ekweremadu’s PDP refused to do this illegal act. Ekweremdu and his associates clinked glasses when this happened. Of course, democracy was at wotk!
All the security details of the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, now Governor, Aminu Tambuwal were withdrawn by the PDP government where Ekweremadu was a deputy Senate President because Tambuwal defected to the APC. He was saved from illegal removal as Speaker by Ekweremadu’s PDP by the gallantry of some house members who scaled the fence after the Speaker was locked out by the PDP government for the purpose of effecting his illegal removal. Yet, Ekweremadu usurped the Deputy presidency of the senate while being from a minority party and had been in that seat for three years when democracy is receding.
When Ekweremadu was having it good with his PDP, the accounts of Adamawa State were illegally frozen and his PDP spared nothing to illegally remove the Governor of the state, Murtala Nyako for disagreeing with Jonathan and Ekweremadu’s faction of the PDP. Similarly, at this time when democracy was not receding, the then governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwanso raised an alarm for several weeks in 2014 that all his security details were withdrawn by Ekweremadu’s PDP for disagreeing with the mainstream faction of the PDP. Today, Ekweremadu is stoutloy defending Kwankwanso and telling us that the military can take over because, as he said, Kwankwanso is not allowed to visit his state.
When Ekweremadu’s democracy was blossoming, an extensive siege was laid at the palace of the Emir of Kano by Ekweremadu’s PDP federal government because the Governor of Kano State did its legitimate duty of appointing Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano. The Emir had to operate from the government house for several weeks while the manhunt for him lasted. Talking of the Emir of Kano, let us recall that he was callously removed as Central Governor by Ekweremadu’s PDP that lacked such power and this travesty of the laws of the land was a healthy chip to the growth of Ekweremadu’s democracy. The sin of Lamido Sanusi was that he revealed gargantuan stealing happening in Ekweremadu’s PDP government when democracy was growing!
Let us recall that at the period when democracy was blossoming under Ekweremadu and his PDP, the then Governor of Rivers State, Chbuike Amaechi was practically hounded off the state by policemen led by notorious Joseph Mbu, acting on dedicated order from Ekweremadu’s PDP for sharing different views with Jonathan and his wife. At a time, the Governor was prevented from entering his government house through one of the gates. Ekweremadu’s PDP divided the Rivers State House of Assembly and used their cronies in the house to hound Amaechi for the rest of his tenure as Rivers Governor. To Ekweremadu and his associates, that was democracy at work.
Have we forgotten how, under Ekweremadu’s PDP when democracy was blossoming such that we forgot the army can still come back, state governors were stopped on the road to Ekiti State to join the campaign of then incumbent Governor Fayemi? Have we forgotten how the military was used to rig the election in favour of Fayose? Have we forgotten how the state police commissioner was used to openly confront and countermand the state Governor of Ekiti? Yes, democracy was healthily growing then, if we believe Ekeremadu’s thesis.
Who in this country was oblivious of how the government where Ekweremadu was an inner player, destroyed the Governors Forum by imposing the will of the minority governors on the majority? Who has forgotten the bizarre 16 is greater than 19 shame the PDP federal government used to scatter the Governors Forum just because it could not force its way to control the forum?
I hope Ekweremadu is not under the impression that we have forgotten how Timipriye Sylva was denied his party’s nomination rights because he disagreed with Jonathan.
Under Ekweremadu’s flowering democracy and under his peevish watch, newspapers were subjected to a serious clampdown such that soldiers and armed men waylaid and seized newspapers on the highways for several days. Yes, that is democracy at work.
I have just used these few cases to show the kind of democracy Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President and a high ranking PDP member superintended for six years and yet Nigerians did not remind the military that they can take over. Most bizarrely, Ekweremadu never, in his blighted horizon, saw these as enough infringement on democracy as to remind us that democracy was receding and the military can come in. He never saw these heinous crimes against democracy as worthy of eliciting his warning that democracy was endangered and the military could take over.
To Ekwremadu and the tendency he represents in Nigerian politics, these serious infringements on Nigerian law and direct affronts on democracy by Ekwremadu’s PDP were no signs that democracy was receding. Rather his allegations that an errant senator was made to face recall, that a senator’s house was destroyed in Kaduna, that Kwankwanso cannot go to his state and that Shehu Sani cannot organize a meeting in Kaduna were more serious wars against democracy for which Ekweremadu is emphatically telling us that the army can still take over. With Ekweremdu’s heinous call coming when evidences of his numerous hidden assets in several foreign countries were emerging, many have reasoned that Ekweremadu who has made such huge profit from a democracy he neither fought for nor helped build, was being prodded by selfish corrupt interest in his remarks but we will leave that aspect as more evidences and twists continue to emerge about his misdemeanors.
However, even as the military has replied Ekweremadu by telling him that it is not interested in carrying out coups so as to offer the Ekweremadus and their ilk who feel peeved by the present dispensation and its scourge on corruption for which they are deeply complicit, we need to remind the Ekweremadus that they are living in the past in believing the country must twist to their corrupt interests or else the entire house gets pulled down. We need to remind Ekweremadu and his co-coup baiters that if Nigeria survived a whole 16 years of his PDP’s gargantuan impunity against the constitution and democracy, there is nothing in his poorly improvised rag-tag claims that we will give in to his bait just because he is no longer free to freeload as he used to. Democracy will not just stop because Ekweremadu and his PDP chieftains just lost power. His bait is irresponsible, selfish and callous and must draw the rightful flaks from Nigerians who, to the Ekweremadus, are dumb lots whose fates must be subjected to the capricious interests of Ekweremadu and his displaced PDP mates.
Peter Claver Oparah
E-mail: [email protected]