In a country where virtually every politician is on the move, where defection from one political party to the other is the order of the day, and where defectors are hailed and eulogized, we cannot help but beam our searchlight on Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the longest serving Deputy Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from 2007 to date, who has remained faithful to his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), since its formation in 1998.
Ike Ekweremadu, a lawyer, began his voyage into politics when he was elected first chairman of Aninri Local Government Council of Enugu State upon its creation in 1997. He served as chairman till 1998. When the lid on party politics was lifted under the transition programme of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Ekweremadu joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and on that platform, sought to return as Chairman of Aninri, but did not succeed.
He did not decamp. He was however compensated with the appointment as Chief of Staff to the Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani.
In 2002, Ekweremadu was appointed Secretary to the Enugu State Government, while in 2003, he contested and won election to the Senate.
In 2007, Ekweremadu was elected Deputy President of the Senate, with Senator David Mark as the Senate President. For eight years, the two men worked inseparably together. It was not the case of one trying to subvert the other or eyeing the position of the other, but that of mutual relationship.
When the country was faced with a serious constitutional crisis following the failure of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to hand over to his Deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, before proceeding to Saudi Arabia on medical vacation, Ekweremadu and Mark squared up with the problem, and later came out with the “Doctrine of Necessity”, whereby the National Assembly conferred on Jonathan the position of Acting President as if it was the President himself that did it. That novelty has now become part of the nation’s statute.
As Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu was saddled with the responsibility of chairing the National Assembly’s committee on constitutional amendment. For the first time in the history of our Presidential democracy, the committee succeeded in effecting some amendments of the country’s constitution, even if some people may consider these amendments as not fundamental to Nigeria’s myriad problems.
Apart from serving as Deputy President of Nigerian Senate, Ekweremadu was aslo elected Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament. He effectively used that position to stabilize the West African sub region, particularly in Sierra Leone and the Gambia, where there were some post election crises.
When in 2015, the PDP lost election at the national level and Ekweremadu, as an elected Senator for the fourth time, had set his eyes on retaining his position as Deputy Senate President, pressures were mounted on him to dump the PDP and join the APC so that the party would effortlessly give him the position. He refused.
Instead, Ekweremadu led the PDP to strike an alliance with a faction of the APC which saw him emerging as Deputy Senate President, even as a member of PDP, with Bukola Saraki of the APC, elected as Senate President, to the envy and consternation of the mainstream APC. Not a few people believed Ekweremadu would last in that position, even for one week, coming as it were, from the minority party in the Senate. But he continued to trudge on.
For unbiased observers, the personality of Ekweremadu, as Deputy Senate President, remains a stabilizing factor in the Upper Legislative Chamber, in the face of the unslaught mounted against the legislature by the executive arm of government. For instance, throughout the travails of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, which werr unleashed on him by his own party, the APC, Ekweremadu religiously stood by him.
Because Ekweremadu has remained loyal to his party, the PDP, and has refused to defect, and because he sticks to Saraki, the Senate President, and continues to work in harmony with him, he has become an “enemy” that must be pulled down by whatever means. As a result, every arsenal of war has been marshalled out and deployed against him, to make sure that he vacates his position. But the man still stands firm.
That notwithstanding, back to his constituency, the Enugu West Senatorial Zone, and Enugu State in general, Ekweremadu’s imprint is everywhere. Through his constituency projects, he has done several kilometres of roads, particularly in Aninri local government, he has suck water boreholes in several communities, he has brought electricity to many communities, he has built many health centres, and through his pet project, Ikeoha Foundation, he has offered scholarships to hundreds of students.
Ekweremadu is also known to have influenced several appointments into some government positions of some people of his constituency at both the federal and state levels.
Ekweremadu’s consistency with the PDP and being at home with his people have made most people of the area remain steadfast with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
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