by Ugonnabo Ngwu
As dirty as the brand of politics practiced in this country may be, there are some moral lessons we occasionally gain from it.
Though paradoxical, the reality remains that from this game we choose to describe as ‘dirty,’ comes some native wisdom we may never find elsewhere. For we have been lectured by Nigerian politics on subjects ranging from the futility of power, dangers of over-ambition, why nobody should be underestimated, effects of reckless speeches and actions to what goes around coming around.
It had even tutored us on why it pays to sometimes run away from a battle so that we can live to fight another day. And from its teachings on the usefulness of enemies, we derive the saying that there is no permanent enemy in politics.
The list goes on and on… However, there is a new set of lessons which have emanated from the politics of the capital of old Eastern Nigeria. It is one that is cascading from a peace-deal which came like a thunderbolt. It came so hard that those on the negative part of the experience will need a miracle to recover from the shock and effect anytime soon. Anyway, that remains what you get when you throw circumspection and caution to the wind in seeking the downfall of somebody who has done you no harm.
That is to be expected when someone chooses to charter a case like we say in our local lingo. I’m sure had I known will be their song now, yet that, like they say, will by now be too late. The reported reconciliation between Governor Sullivan Chime and his estranged kinsman, Senator Ike Ekweremadu is what will be availing us the tremendous ‘take-away’ of this intervention.
The two respected leaders have been embroiled in a no-love-lost relationship sparked by Chime’s bid to replace Ekweremadu at the Senate even when he has successfully schemed out the Deputy Senate President from the race to become governor. Their animosity was so serious that the soul of Enugu was on the line. While Ekweremadu’s camp tried to be more diplomatic and restrained on the issue, Chime and gang were always on the offensive, acting like a classic Wike or even Fayose, as if Enugu has become Rivers or Ekiti.
Some of the governor’s aide wasted no time in siding with their boss. Their actions made it looked as if the only way to warming one’s way into Chime’s heart was by throwing one or two punches in the direction of Ekweremadu. Chime’s devotees went as far as threatening the business interests of Ekweremadu in the State and persecuting respected Enugu citizens who dared to identify with Ekweremadu.
So determined to please their Oga at the top were they that they orchestrated an attack on a health facility built by the People’s Senator. Monarchs presumed to be siding with him were not spared the fury of these aggressors whose actions enjoyed the tacit approval of Lion Building. So foolish were their actions that there was an instance when the Deputy Senate President came for a stakeholders meeting, only for the Chime loyalists to hurriedly depart from such gathering not wanting to be seen at the same event with their principal’s otherwise arch rival.
Yet, Ekweremadu took all these in his strides. Rather than dissipate energy on the bunch of riffraff perambulating the power corridors in Enugu, the man built his stronghold elsewhere. He went after the beacon that guarantees him the type of support that supersedes that of those who claim to control the grassroots. He was doing this at a time it was more like a curse to be an Abuja politician; at a time when those on ground were spoiling to control both the land and the air.
However, Ekweremadu and his co-travellers refused to be distracted. Rather than get sulked in by the fear that being in Abuja may not save them from the army of occupation who were seemingly taking over his homestead, the wise man held tight to what he already has and ended up attracting the sympathy of the higher principality.
So much so that when a high-ranking member of this principality came to Enugu for a spiritual event, the embattled Abuja politician was the one who got to be repeatedly referred to as “my husband’s brother.” This notwithstanding, the foot soldiers having been so intoxicated with the Sullivan wine failed to see the handwriting on the wall. They continued in the aggressive ways as if their object of aggression was elevated to the status of ‘the President’s brother’ because he was merely serving as a cupbearer to the President in Abuja.
But, before I proceed, permit me to draw your attention to the first of the inherent lessons in this very interesting tale: your greatest weakness can actually be your most valuable strength. Though, he appeared to have lost out in the power equation in his native Enugu state, the nation’s number five citizen knew his area of influence and got it harnessed into helping him reclaim what he seemed to have lost in his backyard.
This strategy adopted by Ekweremadu is one that brings back to memory the rope-a-dope style of Mohammed Ali. Just when the shallow-thinking rascals in Enugu thought they have bound their nemesis with a rope, he used the same rope to bind them completely. I sincerely doff my hat for Ekweremadu for such sagacity. Aside this, he was also mature enough to allow his oppressors win in some instances, knowing that their early victory at those instances would surely pave way for his eventual victory.
And so he allowed them to frivolously impeach one of his loyalists, Sunday Onyebuchi, from the exalted position of Deputy Governor amidst other long ropes he gave them. Happy with their accomplishment, the Chime people came again to replace another of Ekweremadu’s men, David Aja, with a certain Ikeje Asogwa from a position that naturally fell on Aja following the resignation of Vita Abba as PDP chairman in the State. It was at this point that even the forces of nature and propriety conspired to assist Ekweremadu fight his cause, without much input from him.
This drives home another home truth: most times fighting should be postponed to a time ripe enough for the forces of nature and goodwill to team up in making an oppressed to win effortlessly. Closely related to this is the fact that illegality and the culture of impunity cannot stand the test of time. Not even Sullivan’s mission to PDP secretariat to show the stooge he was insisting on installing as the state chairman of the party could save him and his gang as the national chairman of his party refused seeing him after he spent several hours waiting. What a pity! I’m sure by now he has come to realise there is always an extent to which all the power one has can take him. If not so, the incumbent governor wouldn’t have surrendered his ambition to take over Ekweremadu’s seat in the National Assembly.
He was so audacious and that got the best of him and forcefully humbled him before everyone else. It was indeed an inordinate audacity for him to seek to topple Ekweremadu whose legislative competence has led him into becoming the Speaker of ECOWAS parliament. I kept asking myself how Sullivan could have fared better than Ekweremadu in the Senate when the man’s gallantry in the Upper Chamber has made him the toast of every Igbo man. Indeed, Sullivan thought so much of himself by seeking to unseat the Deputy Senate President. He allowed pride to take over him, now he has been forced to eat the humble pie. If only he ruminated on the saying that pride goes before a fall… Nonetheless, he should be commended for hearkening to the sense of reason and backing out of the race for the Enugu West Senatorial Seat.
At least, that has somewhat saved his face. I can’t imagine what a shame it would have been for him to have lost to Ekweremadu at the polls. He can ask former Governor of Bauchi State, Adamu Mu’azu for terrible that can be. As for the overzealous aides and hangers-on of Chime who openly confronted Ekweremadu during the peak of his fallout with Chime, let them learn something from the fact that when come finally comes to become, everyone is expected to answer his or her father’s name. Let a word be enough for the wise.
Ugonnabo is a public affairs analyst who can be reached through [email protected]