By Israel Umoh
One of the mercurial personalities in the dissolved 8th National Assembly who weathered political storms and still won his senatorial seat to return to the Red Chambers is Ike Ekweremadu.
In the 2015, many analysts did not give him any chance. Political mines were laid. Accusations were dangled to deter him. Many thought Ekweremadu from Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would not dare the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC’s moving train.
He maintained his taciturnity in the face of intimidation and intrigues by many systemic gladiators and fellow tenants in the House. His political masterstoke was the mastery of the situation and swift deployment of a well-marshalled political gameplan that outsmarted the power-that-be to emerge as the deputy Senate President back-to-back to the consternation of many political pundits.
Despite antics and intimidations of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to cage and dock him, the lawmaker showed brazen bravery and kept the seat until the last day that President Muhammadu Buhari proclaimed the dissolution of the house after the expiration of its legislative period.
However, during his 57th birthday celebration in Enugu, the mercurial politician elected a fifth-time Senator to represent Enugu West in the National Assembly, pulled out a rug from the sleeve that he would no longer seek for re-election to the Red Chambers in 2023.
The lawmaker said it was time to quit the legislature, adding that his remaining time in the NASS would afford him time to complete on-going projects in his constituency.
He said that a new breed politician with shared visions would take over from him at the expiration of the fifth term.
Tracing his political evolution from his time as president-general of his town union, Ekweremadu said “his 16 years sojourn in the NASS had been immensely beneficial to his constituents as it had been a harvest of projects.
Ekweremadu, who said that his life had been a product of divine grace having passed through political persecution and vicissitudes of life.
“I have been scorched and bruised and in all of these, God protected me. This will be my last time as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he declared.
Though the message was unexpected to many particularly his admirers, Straightnews decided to beam its investigative antenna to Enugu, his primary constituency to x-ray the future political berth of the law-maker.
A close political ally of the Senator confided in Straightnews that “the law-maker will join the race for Enugu State Government House after the tenure of the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.”
“Our friend and boss wanted to take a shot at governorship race in 2015, but he was discouraged. In 2019, he thought of entering the race, some politicans asked him to wait until after the tenure of the present governor.
Another ally of the Senator told Straightnews “All the three Senatorial Districts had tested the No.1 position in the state. It is only proper to allow justice and equity to prevail. In other words, we wanted the governorship slot to go round the three districts. By the time the Senator joins the race, it will be easier for him to grab the position. He intends to use the remaining four years in the Senate to attract many ddevelpopment projetcs to the state to use such as launching pad to bargain for the plum position.”
“There are three senatorial districts in Enugu State. These are Enugu East, West and North. So far, Chimaroke Nnamani, a medical doctor from Enugu East ruled from 1999 to 2007; Sullivan Iheanacho Chime from Enugu West governed the state from 2007 to 2015 while Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi from Enugu North started ruling from 2015 till date.
“The three senatorial districts in the state have tested the governorship slot. Though Chime and Ekweremadu hail from the same senatorial district, indications are rife that Ekweremadu may eye the governorship slot.”
Profile from Wikipedia indicates that Ekweremadu is a Nigerian politician and lawyer who has served in the Nigerian Senate since May 2003.
Born in 1962 at Amachara Mpu in Aninri local government area of Enugu State, he is of Igbo exraction in the South East Region. He holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Law from the University of Nigeria, Nigeria and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987. He also holds Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Law from the University of Abuja, Nigeria.
In 2002, Ekweremadu was appointed Secretary to the Enugu State Government, before then he was Chairman of Aninri in 1997 and won the Best Local Government Chairman Award in Enugu State at the time. He was appointed the Chief of Staff of the Enugu State Government House.
On April 12, 2003 he was elected to the Nigerian Senate. As Vice Chairman of the senate committee on Information in September 2003, Ekweremadu stated that the senate would make a serious investigation into allegations of bribery leveled by Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. Relations between Nasir el-Rufai and the senate continued to be hostile, and el-Rufai was eventually charged with corruption in 2008. In 2005, Ike Ekweremadu was beaten in the race for President of the Senate of Nigeria by Senator Kenechukwu Nnamani.
In July 2006, as spokesperson for the Southern Senators’ Forum, Ekweremadu denied charges that they had made an agreement to return power to the North in the 2007 elections. In September 2006, President Olusegun Obasanjo asked the Senate to review a report by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that laid charges of fraud against Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Ike Ekweremadu promised to establish a committee of inquiry whose report would be submitted to the Senate, although he noted that impeachment would be difficult since it would require a 2/3 majority.
Ekweremadu was returned in the 29 April 2007 Nigerian National Assembly election, and retained his position as deputy senate president. He was given the job of handing out committee chairmanship positions allocated to the southeast zone, making decisions that were unpopular with leaders such as Senator Chris Anyanwu, who failed to get the positions they wanted. In July 2007, Ekweremadu was instrumental in defusing objections to the controversial nomination of Ojo Maduekwe to a ministerial position.
In 2015, he was re-elected for a fourth time but he still retained as the Deputy Senate President.
When the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s Principal Private Secretary, David Edevbie, was indicted in September 2009 in a British court for corruption and money laundering, Ekweremadu refused to take a position, stating that he did not know the facts. In September 2009, Ekweremadu was named co-chairman of a committee to conduct the primary elections for the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate for Anambra State.
Ekweremadu was re-elected as Senator for Enugu West in the April 2011 elections, receiving 112,806 votes. The closest runner-up was the candidate of the Peoples for Democratic Change (PDC) party, Jackson Ezeoffor, who got 7,522 votes.
In September 2009, he was appointed to lead the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ad hoc committee to would work for the return of constitutional order in the Niger Republic. He was elected First Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and emerged the Speaker of the regional parliament in August 2011.
Being an experienced politician, it is not yet known the position he will vie for in the 9th Senate to be inaugurated this week.