For days now the new phrase “The third force” has been the theme of public discourse from a section of Nigerians seeking answers to the problems in the country. This has the endorsement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who called for a new Coalition for Nigeria, citing that the present political parties have failed to present credible leaders that should have shown direction for the country.
|DSP, SEN. IKE|
A major factor is the peculiar Nigerian political characteristics and constitutional provision, where political parties remain the agents to actualize the ambition of any force whatsoever.
With, the inability of the National Assembly (NASS), to amend the Constitution with respect to the “Not Too Young Bill” and the “Independent Candidature”, makes the idea a torturous Journey to nowhere for now.
Secondly, is the political education of many Nigerians, especially in the rural areas where the ideals of political ideology is lacking and where illiteracy and living in poverty is a dominant factor thereby making the electoral exercise a ritual for electoral malpractice, vote buying and rigging.
Thirdly, which perhaps is significant, remains voter apathy, a dominant feature that is still present even with the continuous voter registration. Voting exercises still records low turnout coupled with most times the inability of the electoral body to ensure its voting machines function perfectly on the day(s) of election thereby leading to disfranchisement of some legible voters.
The question is, how do we use the movement of the third force in changing the political narrative in Nigeria?
The answer lies in a quote from James Morcan in his book “The Orphan Conspiracies”, which says “No genuine change in society ever occurs without the masses and public getting behind a cause. The good guys in government are counting on enough of us common people, waking up and demanding more rights and greater freedoms from which we deduce that the solutions lie in the experience gained in a democratic system and the change should begin with politicians who should champion the cause of genuine change with the people as its driver.”
What are the issues driving the third force?
Common Identity and finally
Prior to the 2015 general election, these issues featured prominently in run up to the general elections in which Nigerians came out to vote for the slogan “Change” championed by the All Progressive Congress (APC), which later won the elections by a landslide victory cutting across the states in the country.
However, years later, most Nigerians believe that these issues still prevail and nothing has changed, perhaps being tempted to itemize a phrase from the famous public release of a letter from former President Olusegun Obasanjo to qualify the thoughts of most Nigerians, “The lice of poor performance in government- poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condoning of misdeed- if not outright encouragement of it, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality…”
The next question is who are these politicians that should champion this genuine cause for change?
We again take inspiration from my favourite quotes, “Leadership is not about the number of praise singers, sycophants or followers but, it is the ability to carry people along, irrespective of their affiliations”… that should be our guiding light in the search for this leaders that could be light to the third force that most Nigerians thirst for.”
Where are these leaders or politicians?
I again refer to the quote from James Morcan (Supra). It means that there are good politicians waiting for the people to drive the real change mantra and press for the real dividend of democracy. These politicians are presently working in the organs of democracy whether in the Executive or Legislature. We can find them through their work, pedigree and beliefs in the kind of country that would work for all. We can profile their achievements for public discourse, which could serve as an assessment for experience, dedication and service when called for duty. Let’s use this piece to bring out the profile of such leaders…
SEN. IKE EKWEREMADU
A name associated with Nigeria’s Legislature, the current Deputy Senate President for close to ten years and a man credited to being part of the team that brought stability to the Leadership of Nigeria’s senate. A politician, who started his political journey as a Chairman of his Local Government (LG) in Enugu state in the South East of the country and a voice of Fiscal Federalism in the country…
Born in the hills of Amachara Mpu a community in Aninri Local Government Area (LGA) of Enugu State on the 12th of May 1962 to the royal family of Late Igwe Mathias Ekweremadu, the “Okwaa Anekeoji 1 of Mpu.
Began his early education at St Dominics Secondary School, Ugiri Imo State and Boys Secondary School, Umueze, Awkunanaw, Enugu State obtained West African School Certificate (WASC) and ‘A’ level GCE in Economics, Government and Religion, to study Law at the University of Nigeria, Enugu State Campus, graduated with a Bachelor degree in Law and then proceeded to the Nigerian Law school and later was called to Bar in 1987.
John Maxwell in his famous quotes, describes a leader “as one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way” this illustration perhaps is well suited for the man, who was born to a family by royalty and lived within the realms of leaders and still shows the path of true Leadership, having gained training from the Famous Harvard University on Leadership in the twentieth century, he started his political career as the Executive Chairman of Aninri LGA, from 1997 to 1998.
His love for selfless service earned him the best LG Chairman of the year, as the local government witnessed rapid rural transformation, remarkably constructed the ultra-modern secretariat within six months in office without collecting any loan.
As a Constitutional Lawyer, he took a break from politics to train more Nigerians in the faculty of law at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, his performance attracted Nigerians and politicians alike, his name ranged like a folktale in Enugu, then he became a rallying point on the independence and importance of accountability of local government administration in Nigeria.
Little wonder the Lawyer was picked, as the Chief of Staff to the then governor of Enugu state, Chimaroke Nnamani at the start of this new democratic era.
The three year period, 1999 to 2001 was a learning period for the young Lawyer, a time to look at the concept of governance in terms of relationship between the Legislature and the Executive and to begin a new phase of politics, the politics of true governance for the people.
It is of note that, impressed by his performance, the then governor promoted him to be the Secretary of the State Government (SSG) for the next two years.
The next phase of democratic rule presented Hon (Sen.) Ike Ekweremadu an opportunity to represent his senatorial zone at the National Assembly (NASS), thus, he won and sojourned to Nigeria’s capital Abuja to begin life at the hallowed chambers of the Nigerian Senate.
Ike began his life in the Legislature, as a member of four standing Committees in the Senate, namely; Ethics and privileges, Niger Delta, Solid Mineral and Judiciary. Shortly after dissolution of the Committee, he became Chairman of the Committee on Federal Character and Government Affairs, as well as a member of other Committees.
The sixth Assembly, a new era for the Leadership of the National assembly saw the return of Hon Ike Ekweremadu to the red chamber after securing the nod from his senatorial zone in the 2007 elections.
This time, the country had a new leader, President Musa Yar’adua, (late), the National Assembly too had new leaders, Sen David Mark from Benue South senatorial zone, as the Senate President and Sen Ike Ekweremadu, as the Deputy Senate President. That Leadership remained stable throughout the sixth and seventh Assembly.
One of the major highlights of the sixth Assembly is the doctrine of necessity, formulated at the time of the absence of President Yar’adua. That doctrine was sponsored by Sen. Ike Ekweremadu and had the support of the National Assembly and the country, which served as a solution to the crisis of Leadership in the Presidency. Other major motions sponsored by the Deputy Senate President include: The surging incident of kidnapping and hostage taking in Nigeria, outbreak of Hostilities in Jos, Plateau state, the menace of gully erosion and Landslides in the Southeast.
Asides the country’s Legislature, Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu became the first Deputy Speaker of the West African Sub regional Parliament (ECOWAS Parliament), changing the outlook of a democratic West Africa region.
Perhaps the story that truly defines the era of the man fondly called DSP Ekweremadu, was the events of the eight Assembly.
His party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has lost its majority in the National Assembly and the Presidential elections in 2015, the party, which held the leadership of the country for sixteen years was replaced by the All Progressive Congress (APC), which meant a new phase of politics in the Legislature, however, prior to the inauguration of the eight Assembly, the National Legislature changed the narrative by having a mixed breed of the ruling and the opposition in its Leadership.
It was another opportunity for Hon Ike Ekweremadu to ascend the throne again as the Deputy Senate President of Nigeria’s highest Law Making Institution.
The question is, why Ekweremadu, the answer lies with the approach to his style of leadership he possess, all through the years of his stewardship as the Deputy Senate President, his relationship with the erstwhile Senate President, David Mark and Bukola Saraki was very cordial at shaped the leadership of the Senate and the Legislature.
We see his persistent belief in the restructuring debate in his piece titled BIAFRA! BIAFRA!! BIAFRA!!! Sen Ike Ekweremadu highlights the essence of Federalism in response to the growing agitations at that time by various pro-Biafra groups, calling on these groups to join the cause for true federalism “where each constituent part fends for itself to promote industry” he goes on to say “We need a federal arrangement where the best excel and does not have to be sacrificed in the name of federal character”.
His role in the politics of the Southeast is seen as the next leader with all the attributes of the great Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu and Alex Ekwueme, all of blessed memory.
That call for a leader from the Southeast remains critical, as we begin the evolution for a new Nigeria.
Beyond the Southeast Ike Ekeremadu is known as man who believes in Nigeria and a firm believer on the role the Legislature would play in the amendment of the country’s Constitution.
Lastly we must remind ourselves on why we need vibrant leadership that could steer the course of development. That kind of Leader should be educated, articulate, humble and direct in his approach to issues of Modern day Nigeria.