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A Tribute To Emma Ezeazu




I GOT to know Emma Ezeazu in my early days in the university as a student union activist. I got involved in students’ union activism while Ezeazu was already playing leading roles in the Human Rights movement.

In 1992, I had direct contact with him when I became National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) Assistant General Secretary. In the days of Campaign for Democracy (CD) and Women In Nigeria (WIN), which Ezeazu was deeply involved, I was more interested in students’ mobilisation for the CD and the agitation for the termination of military rule in Nigeria. Ezeazu was crucial in both movements.

In 1993/94, I came to Abuja for my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and to serve originally with the Community Action for Popular Participation (CAPP), where Ezeazu started in 1993 but later moved to the National Assembly, as securing office space became a challenge for CAPP. After the completion of my NYSC programme, I was approached by Ezeazu and YZ Ya’u to take the job of a Programme Officer in CAPP. Therefore, I was the first Programme Officer recruited to work with CAPP along with Emma Ezeazu, who was the Director. From 1995, we worked closely as pioneer staff of CAPP in Abuja.

If I would remember nothing about Ezeazu, I must appreciate the manner he sincerely related with me like a brother despite our ethnic, religious and geographical disparity. One of the uncommon opportunities in NGOs I enjoyed under the leadership of Ezeazu was independence to discharge my duty. This did not only enable me to explore, but also further solidified my relationship with him. I remember a day I fell ill and Ezeazu rushed me to the hospital. When asked of our relationship, he answered “he is my brother”, and paid my bills from his pocket.

After CAPP, Ezeazu moved to the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA). Subsequently, he set up the Centre for Development of Civil Society (CDCS), where I was supporting him. From 1995 to 2010, we lived together in the same house. Because of my closeness with him, he always wanted me around.

My relationship with Ezeazu extended beyond organisational to personal, as I became friend to his family members, and in several occasions, influenced his decisions on issues.

He was the first person to employ me to start a career and thereafter encouraged me to be independent by starting an NGO, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), where he served as Board Member till his death. He showed appreciable concern about my safety and well being.

Ezeazu’s dream for the indigenous communities in Abuja did not just start recently with Original Inhabitants Development Association (OIDA). In our days in CAPP, we visited virtually every community in Abuja with the aim of setting up the Abuja Indigenes Forum to advance the cause of marginalised and abandoned indigenes by the Federal Government, who had forced them out of their space in the name of development. Ezeazu also spearheaded the fight for the rights of affected communities by the flooded dam in Niger State.

In the days of the fight against military rule to ensure the re-emergence of democracy in Nigeria, Ezeazu was in the forefront of the formation of United Action for Democracy (UAD), Women in Nigeria (WIN), Campaign for Democracy (CD) and Democratic Alternative (DA).

Ezeazu distinguished himself in appreciating different shades of opinion. He was a totally detribalised Nigerian. His contributions towards grassroots development in the country cannot be over emphasised.

The history of free, fair and transparent electoral process in Nigeria will not be complete without Emma Ezeazu. He fought tirelessly for credible electoral process in the country. He led a fight against corruption in the electoral process.

After due consultation, he ventured into elective politics in the FCT. He wanted to effect the changes he had preached and advocated over the years. He contested a House of Representatives seat (AMAC Bwari Federal Constituency) under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Due to his health challenge, he came second in the primary election by just few votes even when in hospital bed. He contributed immensely to the success of the APC in the FCT and the nation at large.

Unfortunately, he did not live to savour the victory. He did not live to witness the progress he fought for. He did not live to see the change he craved for the Nigerian people. Ezeazu would be forever remembered for his tireless fight against impunity. Ezeazu died after a protracted illness on May 18, few days to the inauguration date of the government he contributed to install. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

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