Ekweremadu: Unfortunate Scapegoat

By Jude Atupulazi

Staying or living abroad already has one major advantage. That advantage is that hard work over there yields results. That is something that one can hardly get or enjoy while living in this hell hole called Nigeria. In fact, for anyone to reap from one’s hard work in Nigeria, one has to either have long legs or have godfathers. Without either of the above, you may just be labouring in vain.

From the above, it can be agreed that if anyone is expected to be unhappy, frustrated and angry, that has to be the one living in Nigeria. But last week, the ones who are supposedly in a heaven located in Nuremberg, Germany, were the ones who cracked. In a fit of frustrated anger, if there’s any expression like that, they pounced on the immediate past Deputy Senate President of Nigeria, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. They pelted him with objects and tore his clothes as he arrived at the venue of an Igbo Cultural Festival there. He only escaped serious manhandling by zooming off in a car.

His attackers were mad at him for coming all the way to Germany to eat yam when he and his ilk had not done much about his people being raped, maimed, kidnapped and killed by Fulani herdsmen back home. They even prayed for God’s wrath on him. Those people who attacked him were later discovered to be sympathizers of Pro-Biafra group, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. Indeed, the vehemence of their attack showed that they could have shot him if they were armed. Thank God they didn’t have arms.

The attack on Ekweremadu may not have been the last. The leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, has promised more of such and has included on his hit list the likes of the governors of Abia, Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi States; and indeed, any politician, mostly from the Southeast, who ventures abroad for any event. If this isn’t a declaration of war, tell me, my people, what it is.

However, comical as these developments may seem, they are indeed very, very serious. Knowing this country and her people, once this kind of thing starts, it is difficult to stop. Remember how after kidnapping for ransom was started in the Niger Delta, it quickly spread to other parts of the country and has not stopped. Thus, attacking people in government may have just become the next BIG THING.

Indeed, these must not be happy times for these ”big men”. For years, the ordinary Nigerians have been seeing them as symbols of their sad predicament; as people who take all the meat in their soup and leave them with only the naked soup. And now, these commoners have had enough and are hitting back at the political class who, admittedly, have been showing gross insensitivity to the plight and feelings of the ordinary folks.

But was Ekweremadu the one supposed to be targeted? The hapless senator is neither a Federal Government appointee working for Buhari, nor a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, whose government has taken the country to her lowest point. Ekweremadu is only a member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP; a party putting the heat on the APC and tasking it to do better.

But all this was lost on the attackers who just saw in Ekweremadu, the symbol of oppression, bad governance, insensitivity and all that is bad. And so they went after him with all their pent up fury and frustration.

Their attack on Ekweremadu was regardless of the fact that he played a major role in the granting of bail to their leader, Kanu, as well as the meeting of the bail conditions. Their action was typical of that of a mob. In mob actions, reason takes flight; emotions take over.

In the time of the great Roman General, Julius Caesar, a certain Cinna was killed; not because there was any particular wrong he did, but for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Thus when he cried out that he was only a mere poet, the mob roared that he should be killed for his bad verses! Ekweremadu was at the wrong place at the wrong time! To the attackers, he represented those that they hated; and at that material time, any other person like him could have received the same treatment.

The attack may have come and gone, but it serves as a lesson to the ruling class who seem to have forgotten that they owe those they are supposed to lead, a certain degree of respect. In fact, the way many of the members of the ruling class behave in public leaves much to be desired. They may be wondering how they have erred. But I tell them; any time they drive in long convoys, spewing dust and splashing the poor civil servants with mud as they walk dejectedly on the road, they have erred. They erred by displaying such arrogant wealth and insensitivity to those people.

Any time they attend functions and spray thousands of Naira notes on the floor, they are erring by wasting money that the poor workers of Nigeria would have been glad to have some of.

Any time they build mansions and ignore their poor neighbours who live in batchers, they are erring by brutally reminding them that all fingers are not equal, even when they are living off the common wealth of all of us.

Any time the ruling class refuses to help the poor but goes to church to donate millions where they will be seen, clapped for and given the front seat, they are erring by telling the poor that there is nothing they can do.

The ruling class errs when they do nothing about the growing menace of herdsmen on the roads because they know they can always travel by air where they cannot be got at.
The ruling class courts trouble when they send their children to school abroad, leaving the children of the poor to study in dilapidated classrooms, exposing them to the elements with their attendant dangers.

They are seen to be ripping off on the commoners when they make use of the best health facilities abroad and leave the rest of us to make do with those poor facilities which are still expensive.

The ”sins” of the ruling class are legion. The common man knows that these people see politics and government as the quickest ways of making money and changing their lives. Thus when they talk about ”next level”, the irony is not lost on the so-called commoners.

There is this talk that some people can be fooled some of the time. Others can be fooled all the time; but everybody cannot be fooled all the time. I believe we are coming to that last stage now where the people cannot be fooled again. We are reaching the stage where the people are about to decide that enough is enough. They are deciding this because their frustrations have reached boiling point.

It may be easy for some people to dismiss the Nuremberg incident with a wave of the hand as the handiwork of jobless compatriots living abroad. But anyone who does this may be committing a grave error of judgment.

The world’s greatest revolutions started without premeditation. Apparently harmless incidents had often triggered a chain of reactions that invariably swept off unpopular governments. I bet that some years back when Algerians took to the streets to protest against bad governance, many of them probably never knew what it would result in. But it had eventually snowballed into something serious that led to the resignation of the president.

While I join in the condemnation of the often crude methods of IPOB, I hasten to warn the ruling class to begin immediately to stop taking people for granted. They should start immediately to be sensitive to the feelings of the people. They are free to make and enjoy their money. But please, let them not rub it in. Let them not be arrogant in their display of wealth. Let them know that no condition is permanent and that those who helped them to climb up will be needed when they want to climb down.

I will always respect one leader. He is Peter Obi. Love or hate him, he remains the epitome of humility as a leader. He comes to functions unannounced. He occupies the back seat in the church when he comes late. As governor, he went without sirens most of the time, while displaying the traits already mentioned. Even outside office, he is still connecting with the people – visiting schools and rubbing minds with students. If he is pretending in all of this, let others also pretend; for the world would be a better place if all leaders pretended to be good.

The Ekweremadu saga should serve as a wake-up call to the ruling class if they wish not to be the next victims. As someone put it, if care is not taken, a time will soon come when anyone seen driving a good car will be attacked. In that anarchic situation, the words of Peter Obi will have come true. What are those words? THE SOCIETY WE ABUSE TODAY WILL TAKE ITS REVENGE ON OUR CHILDREN TOMORROW.

For all you know, Ekweremadu may have been a victim of the actions of the ruling class over the years.