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How Ekweremadu’s bid for Deputy Senate President hit the rocks

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Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu<br />

The grace of being Deputy Senate President for twelve years has placed Ike Ekweremadu in the league of prominent and experienced politicians in the country.

The senator who presently ranks as one of the longest serving senators was elected in 2003 to represent Enugu West senatorial zone of Enugu State. If providence allows him, he would by 2023 mark 20 years as a senator.

So far, he had served as Deputy to ex-senate president, David Mark for eight years and another four years under the immediate past leadership of Bukola Saraki; a feat that is rear in the politics of the country, especially among members of the National Assembly.

Last Tuesday, Ekweremadu attempted to retain the seat of Deputy Senate President but met brick walls as members of the 9th Senate overwhelmingly voted against him. He lost woefully as he neither got the overall endorsement of members of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the NASS, nor those of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Ekweremadu secured a paltry 37 votes against APC’s Ovie Omo-Agege, who polled 68 votes.

Incidentally, it was Ekweremadu who presided the day Omo-Agege allegedly led thugs into Senate chambers and snatched the mace, which is the symbol of authority. But irrespective of this, even with a veiled reference to the event when he (Ekweremadu) addressed members-elect before the voting, it did not stop his being humiliated at the election by his colleagues.

Sources said he neither campaigned for the position nor secured the endorsement of his party to vie, adding that his sudden appearance on the ballot jolted some members, including those of the PDP stock.
 
It was gathered that he had without the consent of his party worked underground forged an alliance with some APC senators to deliver Ahmed Lawan as Senate President, while he would in turn be thrown up as Deputy.

The source stated that some APC negotiators had dangled the Ahmed–Ekweremadu compromise before the PDP caucus, which he leads to thwart the move of the party towards backing Senator Ali Ndume from Borno State, which had been their earlier game plan.

When Ndume failed and Ekweremadu showed up to become Lawan’s Deputy, the source added, it now dawned on the members that he had tried to be smart by half, thus the plot to vote against him.

Explaining however why he decided to contest for the position, Ekweremadu stated that it was in protest against the nomination of Omo-Agege.

He was quoted as saying after the election: “I believe there must be a referendum. Look at what happened on a day I was presiding and chambers invaded. It is embarrassing that someone who led that operation will take a bow and be endorsed and we all walk home like it doesn’t matter. I wanted a situation where we could present a referendum in respect of what transpired.”
 
He also disclosed that he made up his mind to run on the day of the election.
 
Hear him: “We were not minded to run for any office, we thought that our friends in APC will produce a consensus candidate that we can all be proud of. We don’t want a situation where we will say what happened here and you came and endorsed same person (Omo-Agege) deputy president of the senate. We need to exonerate ourselves. It was not a contest to win or lose. I wanted to make a statement.”
 
What is agitating some presently is whether Ekweremadu wanted to continue to occupy the seat of Deputy Senate president after 12 years or whether he truly ran the election to show his disdain for the alleged desecration of the Senate chambers in 2018. What exactly was the motive behind his decision that made him abandon those who ordinarily should have assisted him?

 
Emeritus President of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, while reacting to the issue stated that every political activity was bedeviled by uncertainty, stressing that Ekweremadu aspired like any other senator from southeast and south-south zones.
 
“That he lost meant that the APC machinery was in full swing before and during the voting. I do believe that his nomination was not planned. Every episode must run out. In this case, his era has ended by effusion of time. Senator Ekweremadu cannot be described as an anonymous politician,” he said.
 
A political analyst, David Igwe, explained that the mere fact that he was nominated “after serving on the same seat for as long as 12 years means that he has become so popular and loved by his colleagues.”
 
On the other hand he said: “He is PDP’s joker. They may have thrown him up because they believed that with him, they could secure the Deputy Senate seat since he is the most experienced among other members. It was not a wrong aspiration at all.’
 
But others in opposition to his aspiration, believed there were other ways to express reservations against the nomination of Omo-Agege than throwing himself into the ring, stressing that the votes he got indicated the lack of confidence reposed in him. They stated that greed and self-centeredness were the driving force behind the aspiration, stressing that there were other lawmakers of the PDP stock that should have contested the position if need be.
 
“It was part of his inordinate ambition to remain in power at all costs, otherwise, what other signal did he require to show that he was not wanted by his colleagues than, allowing his nomination to be made by his fellow senator from Enugu State? He should have known that the mere fact that he was nominated by a senator from his state was an indication that he was not wanted by his colleagues; yet upon that, he did not bulge and wanted to show strength. Well, unfortunately he was humiliated and he will continue to live in regret.
 
“I thought he was a smart politician but that exercise proved me wrong. It was like carrying his luck too far, knowing how difficult it was for him and Saraki to survive the last four years; I didn’t think it was reasonable to contest. I thought he is an intellectual? The accruals of the office appear to be too tempting and this shows he was never ready to quit. Again, he under rated the power and brotherhood of the South-south, who could not have abandoned their own when it mattered most,” a source said.

But another thin line on why he wanted the office is hinged on the contest for presidency in 2023. Sources told The Guardian that consideration for the presidential position in 2023 when it is believed will be the turn of Ndigbo fuelled the quest.

The calculation is to hold onto a vantage position that could place him in contention, and on the other hand, play second fiddle to any person that party might come up from any other zone.

“Otherwise, how come the same man, who told the gathering during his 57th birthday celebration in Enugu last month that he would not re-contest his Enugu West senatorial seat in 2023, suddenly want to become Deputy Senate President? It goes to show that he loves flying the kite to get reactions of people while pursuing his desired dream,” the source stated
 
At that event in Enugu, Ekweremadu had kept sealed on his next political moves from 2023, even as social online platforms have continued to speculate that he was interested in the governorship position of the state in 2023.
 
It was further gathered that the fresh ambition was fuelled by the failure of his initial game plan to become the Vice Presidential candidate of his party during the 2019 elections.
 
Ekweremadu was said to have in pursuit of this sole ambition, immediately the crisis in the party was resolved, railroaded the PDP committee on zoning which he led, into endorsing the presidential ticket to the north, while the southeast would produce the Vice.
 
The source stated that this was responsible for the opposition and little support Peter Obi received from the PDP in the Southeast when Alhaji Atiku Abubakar nominated him as running mate.
 
Ekweremadu, it could be recalled had summoned a meeting of the party in the zone at his Enugu residence, where a decision was reached that, the zone was not consulted before the arrival of the choice of Obi.

Augustine Umahi, PDP Southeast Zonal Chairman, who addressed journalists after the meeting had described the choice of Obi as “mere social media propaganda’, stressing that, “until the zone was consulted, they will continue to regard the news as rumour.”

That was the point of departure as certain apparatus of the party, which controls in the zone failed to work wholeheartedly for Atiku-Obi presidency.  However, at a point during the electioneering campaigns, Ekweremadu had declared that the disagreement over the vice presidential slot was over and that the party was working together.

But the lie in his claim manifested during the Enugu West senatorial campaign rally (his own constituency), held at the Awgu Council headquarters, where he was billed to address his constituents and other residents of the state on the election.

To the surprise of the crowd at the event, Ekweremadu and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had clapped and danced and refused to speak at the rally. The people had left the venue disappointed and dejected by the action of the two men. He was never seen anywhere campaigning for the victory of the party in that election.

BACKLASH
THERE are strong indications that what transpired at the senate on Tuesday has brought to fore the real politician in Ekweremadu. He was said not to have consulted even Ugwuanyi on his ambition, apparently to ward off any discouragement.

It was gathered that the state would not have endorsed his aspiration if it was brought to fore, basically because of the litany of ‘wars’ he fought to survive the first four years of the Buhari administration.

A source stated that in the face of all these, he would have encouraged the PDP to put up another senator to vie for the office, adding that, it would have improved his political profile.

But Ekweremadu is said love “sit tight” syndrome and would not mind any embarrassment on the way to his desired dreams.

Hiss next political move is still vague. There are still doubts that even his declaration of quitting Senate by 2023going by his current moves will materialise.

 
 


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