Ekweremadu: Don’t push Igbo to the Wall, Ohanaeze warns

By Tony Edike on 28/07/2018

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Ekweremadu addressing the large crowd of supporters during the solidarity rally in Enugu on Friday
Ekweremadu addressing the large crowd of supporters during the solidarity rally in Enugu on Friday

The apex Igbo cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo has warned that Igbo should not be pushed to the wall by the federal government following the alleged holding down in house arrest of Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu by the police earlier in the week.

Speaking during a grand reception for Ekweremadu in Enugu, Enugu State, President of Ohaneze in Enugu State, Chief Alex Ogbonnia warned that the Deputy Senate President being the highest person the Igbos have in government, they would not allow any harm to befall him.

“Ndigbo are patient, dynamic, persevering and tolerant set of people, but they should not be pushed to the wall. If the situation continues, Ndigbo will no longer keep quiet and watch.

“In the first place, he was dragged to the court on the false allegation of forgery of Senate Standing Rule. Later on, they sent policemen to ransack his residence in May last year. The other time, they attacked him on the highway, and there have been a lot of other persecutions.

“We trooped out in our numbers to welcome him because we want the powers that be to know that Senator Ike Ekweremadu has a constituency. We want to let them know that when they make him unhappy, we are unhappy. We want to let them know that anything that happens to him, Igbos will not take it lightly.

“So, what you have seen here today is just like a sign that if anything happens to Senator Ekweremadu it will not be easy.

“To cordon his residence and restrict movement of any kind within his building is not the best. It is Gestapo-like. So, we have gathered, one, to give solidarity to him to let him know that we are solidly behind him, to let him know that wherever he is going we are with him, to let him know that he should continue to work hard as he had been doing to protect democracy by the way he has been doing it.

“He is already a strong voice not only in the National Assembly but he is the voice of Nigeria and we are in support of what he is doing in the National Assembly,” he said.

Ogbonnia told journalists at the solidarity rally that Ekweremadu being the highest person the Igbos have in government today had faced lots of persecution ever since he took up the office of the Deputy President of the Senate by election by his fellow senators.

Ekweremadu who returned to a heroic welcome in Enugu, three days after he was held under house arrest at his Abuja residence by security operatives vowed to sustain the struggle, insisting that he would never be intimidated by those he described as anti-democratic forces with no democratic credentials in their blood stream.

He said: "Ndi Enugu, Ndigbo, I lack words to appreciate you enough for the overwhelming solidarity and hero’s welcome accorded me on my arrival in Enugu at the weekend.

 

"As your spokesperson rightly recalled, it is the second time this kind of assault on democracy is happening this year alone after hoodlums invaded the Senate to cart away the mace in April. And for you, my people, you believe you needed to stand up to say that enough is enough.

I stand with you. We are not asking for too much. We are only advising the government that human rights must be respected; that there should be justice to all; that there should be fairness; and that there should be equal opportunity for everyone in Nigeria. If we do that, Nigerians do not care whether you come from North or South. If you do that, Nigerians do not care where their president comes from.

What Nigerians want is an environment where everybody can thrive. For the Igbos especially, who are egalitarian, who move about everywhere, what they want is an atmosphere where they can live in Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, and Sagamu and do their business and be sure that no one would destroy their property or their lives.

We believe that the people of Nigeria need to come together so that we enthrone order where these expectations will be met. That is what we call restructuring. We need to come back to the basic tenets of federalism, democracy and freedom that our fathers agreed on as the basic principles of government.

Unfortunately, those of us, who are asking that the correct thing be done, are being hounded by the government. So, that is where we have the tragedy of the whole situation. Government must be open to advice and suggestions and must be able to dialogue. Instruments of democracy is dialogue and not force.

Those who are advising the government must realise that this is a free society. Nigerians are entitled to their rights, their freedoms, they are entitled to the principles of democracy.

There is no way you can continue to harass and chase and institution of government and expect peace to thrive. That is not possible. Or if you are ensuring that any part of Nigeria is cut off from government, we will have problem. These are little things that can be fixed. All we are asking for is for an opportunity for all of us to sit down and ask how Nigeria can be fixed.

Don’t be afraid for me. I am 56 years old now. I have taken more than average life expectancy in Nigeria. I know it is not over, but I am psychologically ready to go through this trauma. I refuse to be intimidated. I am going to do the work for which you elected me.

All I am saying is that there is no need overheating the system just because you want to bring down a system or bring down an institution or you want to bring down certain people in government. These should not be our worry because there are more challenges in the North East, in the North Central, and even in North West where people are killed everyday in Zamfara State and it appears nobody is worried.

The life of a Nigerians is no longer worth more than the life of a chicken. People die in their hundreds and we just move on as if nothing has happened. It cannot happen in in other societies. I saw a little clip of a police dog said to have died in America. The dog was given a state burial.

The problem with politicians is that sometimes they promise things they cannot deliver. So, those who plotted that Tuesday event promised them that if they stopped me and the President of the Senate, they would go and remove us with their tiny number and then go ahead to begin to justify it.

But there, for me, are crazy ideas, and it is not going to happen. Even if you do that and run away to stop the defection of our colleagues, one day you will resume and we will all come there and stop you from sitting. So, it was such a stupid thing to think about and whoever paid for it (attempt to remove us unconstitutionally) must have wasted his money.

In the last Senate, I was presiding over a situation where the current President of the Senate and his colleagues left us and the heavens didn’t fall. We had a situation where one Senator Maitiama, I think in the 4th or 5th Senate, who was in All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, said he was moving to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. We announced it. The next day, he came back and said he was going back to the ANPP because he discovered that the umbrella had scattered. We all laughed and he went back. But now it is like war because some people want to move.

I think that the earlier we agree that this is a democracy, the better for all of us. We are not in a military regime. You can’t apply military tactics in a purely civilian environment. That is the truth.

Posted 28/07/2018 10:07:42 PM

 

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