Opinion

Ekweremadu: Our collective hypocrisy

By PROMISE ADIELE

Recently, various news outlets were inundated with reports that Nigeria’s lawmaker, a former Deputy Senate President, lawyer of repute and career politician Ike Ekweremadu and his wife were arrested in the United Kingdom for allegedly attempting to harvest the organ of a fifteen- year-old minor David Ukpo Nwamini. According to reports Ekweremadu and his wife were desperate to provide a replacement organ for their ailing daughter hospitalized in the United Kingdom.

While some reports insist that the boy is a fifteen-year-old minor abducted from Nigeria by Ekweremadu and his wife to harvest his organ for the survival of their daughter, other reports maintain that the lawmaker followed due process but was dealing with a scheming, desperate, dishonest, opportunistic twenty-one-year old adult.

We should recall that David Ukpo Nwamini’s available BVN record shows that he is twenty-one years as against the fifteen years he is presently claiming in the United Kingdom. While we must patiently wait for the UK authorities to conclude their investigation, I sincerely and honestly wish Sonia, Ekweremadu’s daughter a quick recovery.

However, Sonia’s case and the arrest of her parents present an excellent opportunity to dissect and interrogate more fundamental issues in the unfolding scenario. From different reactions to the Ekweremadu’s saga, it is obvious that many Nigerians, effortlessly, without apologies wallow in the labyrinth of hypocrisy.

Many Nigerians speak from both sides of the mouth especially those one would otherwise, ascribe a measure of intelligence and cognitive maturity. It is indeed sad that those that try to exonerate Ike Ekweremadu and absolve him of blame in the matter mindlessly traffic in an unstable mental attitude akin to amnesia.

While we can, based on the strength of available evidence, conclude that David Ukpo Nwamini lied and Ike Ekweremadu is innocent, we cannot totally give the embattled senator a clean bill of health, slap him by the wrist and ask him to sin no more. No, we cannot and should not do that.

Over the years, Nigerians have been unanimous in berating government officials that frequently patronize foreign medical facilities while our hospitals and Medicare transmute into a crying necropolis. Even when the President, Mr Muhammadu Buhari was at the cusp of death and travelled to the UK for medical attention, many Nigerians seized the opportunity to criticize him despite his health challenges. There was no issue of ethnicity. We spoke with one voice as Nigerians.

We agreed that if our health sector were fixed, if the political class did the needful, there would be no need for anyone to seek medical attention abroad. The rich and the poor will benefit from it and everyone will be happy. Ike Ekweremadu has been in the Nigerian Senate for nineteen years, occupying the exalted office of the Deputy Senate President for twelve years.

By the prevailing constitutional hierarchy, he was the fourth man in official decision ordering as Deputy Senate President. If Buhari was blamed for travelling abroad for medical purposes, the former Deputy Senate President should also receive the same treatment for flying his daughter abroad to seek medical help. Ike Ekweremadu belongs to a long list of our political wayfarers whose only major means of income is Nigeria’s bleeding and exploited political industry.

He made his money by making laws in a country lacerated by a lack of enduring mass-oriented, populist laws. How many bills did he sponsor or influence as a Deputy Senate President for the upgrading of Nigeria’s numerous university teaching hospitals? No, the senators will not upgrade or care for our healthcare system. They trust in their enormous wealth which they earned for doing practically nothing. Their consolation is to fly abroad for the slightest of ailments. It is therefore shocking that Nigerians, famous for identifying the inherent criminality in the attitude of our political class junketing abroad for medical tourism, will turn around and dress Ekweremadu in glowing apparel.

I see bleeding hypocrisy on the Nigerian horizon. How some Nigerians, like the Shakespearean Plebeians, turn sixty degrees to defend or accept what they have always abhorred and criticized is beyond comprehension. Assuming there were world-class hospitals in Nigeria, our politicians will not immediately jet out of the country for a regular health breach as minor as a headache.

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Assuming that in all our criticism we succeeded in stampeding the government to make laws stopping politicians and members of their families from travelling abroad for medical purposes, Ekweremadu would not have been enmeshed in the current embarrassing imbroglio in a foreign land.

It is indefensible by any stretch of the imagination that someone who earns our money for making laws for us will use the money to take his child abroad for medical attention while the people who should submit themselves to the law made by our lawmakers can hardly afford to access the cheapest Medicare in the country.

What kind of crass irony is that? What is the state of the National Hospital in Abuja? What is the state of all the university teaching hospitals in the country? What have our lawmakers done by way of initiating bills to better and improve the state of these mere consulting clinics in the country? It is indeed shameful and disrespectful to millions of Nigerians that while they grapple with a non-existing healthcare system, those who make laws for them bury their heads in various hospitals abroad.

It summarily violates cosmic principles that our politicians will take suffering, taxpayers’ money here and spend it abroad where taxpayers’ money has been put to good use. This kind of wicked behaviour, this abominable culture of earning money in naira and spending it in hard currency has completely crippled our local currency and Nigerians are worst for it. Selective criticism in this regard only degrades our humanity. This hypocrisy must stop.

To bring ethnic bias into the matter is to genuflect on the quicksand of moral debasement. I read a certain commentator popular for courting controversy and making a caricature of public commentary write that the South-Easterners should not condemn Ekweremadu since the Hausa/Fulani did not condemn the implicated former police boss Abba Kyari. It is this kind of anaemic ethnic sentiment through the obvious manifestation of idiocy that has held our country backwards for many years. So, if our kinsman runs afoul of the law, we should keep quiet and not condemn him? Then we are hypocrites and should all cover our faces in shame.

Did the same Ekweremadu not openly canvass votes for a Fulani/Northerner against a fellow South-Easterner like him? Please spare me the ethnic mindset. It is disgraceful. If we have been shouting and criticizing politicians for entrenching the practice of foreign medical tourism, then Ekweremadu should also receive the stick. Nigerians want a functional and affordable infrastructure which everyone can benefit from. Our hospitals are dead, our university system is dead too.

The cry and anguish of Nigerians as the direct victims of this official irresponsibility by the ruling class will surely catch up with them. The God of heaven will surely stop them in their tracks and their poisoned fingers will inevitably make contact with their mouth. It is for these reasons that the current youth revolution in the country is soaring with implacable fury.

PROMISE ADIELE
PROMISE ADIELE

INEC recently announced that more than ten million voters have registered in the immediate past. Nigerians want a new beginning. The old order must be legitimately overthrown through the ballot box. Say no to foreign medical tourism for our politicians when our health system is dead. Say no to foreign education for our politicians when our universities are shut. Get your PVC.

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