Friday, August 12, 2022

Rudolf Okonkwo: My special apologies to Senator Ike Ekweremadu

I will ask God to bless you with a pause every now and then.

• July 6, 2022
Ike Ekweremadu and Ifeanyi Okowa
Ike Ekweremadu

Part of tendering a sincere apology is to deliver an honest assessment of one’s sins.

I am one of those pretentious Nigerians often seen all over the world who are full of themselves. We carry on our shoulders a fake intellectual sophistication that makes us look at Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a man of great moral courage and integrity, and we call him a buffoon.  

Yes, I said it.

Ike Ekweremadu is a learned gentleman. We just don’t understand him.

Who would have known that the man cared until he showed it by the extent he went to find the solution to his daughter’s health problem. That is what every real man would do. For him, it was “by any means necessary.”

Now that is an unquestionable fatherly commitment.

The man was ready to sell all of his 22 houses in Nigeria, Dubai, and London, to find a cure for his daughter’s illness. He deserves the Father of the Year award.

Because I am myopic, quick to judge and impatient with geniuses like Dr Ekweremadu, I did not notice that he used his daughter’s treatment as a case study. If only the UK authorities had allowed him to finish the job, he would have used the same template to help every other Nigerian in need of medical services that cannot be provided by the numerous specialised hospitals that he has established in his last 19 years as a senator of the federal republic. As he was known to do, after the complete healing of his daughter, he would have passed a bill in the Senate for every sick Nigeria to have automatic access to medical treatment in the UK. 

A legislature of Ekweremadu’s calibre would always find a way to attach it to a bill. Maybe, he would have attached that provision to the reparation against slavery bill, the restitution for colonisation bill, or the refund from Abacha’s un-repatriated loots bill. 

He was going to do so, but in our haste to condemn every politician from Nigeria as another fantastically corrupt man or woman, we failed to appreciate his sainthood. We mock Ekweremadu’s little trouble in the UK and in the process deny ourselves the blessing of his ingenuity. 

I hope this my apology reaches him in the half-house the UK police kept him and his wife. I hope it provides him a little relief, knowing that one of his greatest critics has come to his senses.

I hope he remembers what Jesus said when the Pharisees and Sadducees mocked and crucified him. He said, “God, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Dear Ike Ekweremadu, I employ you to forgive me for I did not know what I was doing. Please pray that God forgives those UK authorities that did not know that you were a big man in Nigeria. They obviously did not know that you are a Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR). If they knew, they would not dare keep you in that filthy detention when you have a mansion in the UK. 

If they knew you were a Knight of the Good Shepherd, they would have known that you were just trying to help that boy get a better life, the same good life you gave to your kids. If they knew that you were Ikeoha Ndigbo, they would have known that the $20,000 found on you at the airport was just pocket change that you give out to homeless people in every new city you get to in the West. You have always been horrified about the poor and hungry people you see in New York City, London, and Dusseldorf. You have vowed to help them out as a good African as a way to show that aids also go from Africa to the West.

When on 17 August 2019, some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) attacked you in Nuremberg, Germany, I was one of those horrified by the incident. I remember screaming and kicking and slamming my head on the wall that it was unacceptable to do something that hideous to a man of great courage and moral rectitude like you. 

Watching them pelt you with eggs triggered tears rolling down my cheeks. That was the first time I joined them in calling you a buffoon because you did not travel to Germany with a battalion of SSS and mobile police, with two or three Hilux vans on your motorcade, one in front and one at the back. For an important man like you who has spent the last twenty years fighting for the wellbeing of the children of Nigeria, you deserved protection given to every icon of your stature anywhere in the world.

I have since realised that you were just a humble man who loved to interact with common people without any posturing. I respect that now.

The other time I regretted laughing at you was when the EFCC released you after a brief detention. Remember when they picked you up and wanted you to explain the 22 houses they said you owned in Nigeria, Dubai, and London. I was surprised that they did not think it was appropriate for you to make sure that you leave behind at least one house for each of your grandchildren. 

Every responsible father would do the same. And being that you have four kids, at an average of four grandkids each, you needed 16 houses for the grandchildren. Considering that you have to take care of the side chicks with side-children and side-grandchildren, the remaining six houses would ultimately go to them.

You were that caring, that generous, and that forward-thinking. But those useless people at the EFCC did not understand it. 

I called you a buffoon when on August 4, 2018, you brought over 22 pastors, bishops, prophets, and all manners of church leaders to pray for you upon your release by the EFCC. You had told the EFCC that you were ill and had high blood pressure and they released you. In my ignorance of how these things work, I was furious. Please forgive my youthful exuberance. 

Without mincing words, I was plainly stupid. I did not understand the science in that move of yours. I thought you brought the church leaders to pray for forgiveness of your sins. I didn’t know that they were praying for stupid people like me to open our eyes and smell the coffee of targeted racism plus discrimination against you, a perfectly learned gentleman labouring day and night in the service of humanity.

Again, I apologise

Moving forward, I pledge to pray for our leaders like you faithfully. I will ask God each day to bless you with teaching moments like the current one you face so that stupid people like me will see the glory of your sacrifices for our betterment. I will ask God to bless you with a pause every now and then. 

And with each pause and slow down, you will remember where you came from before becoming a big man. And for the sake of little people like us, prove to those who call us “fantastically corrupt” that we are honourable men and women, like you and your wife. And that we will do anything to save the lives of our compatriots, even if it entails selling all of our 22 houses in Nigeria, Dubai, and London.

Nonsense!

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is also the host of Dr. Damages Show. His books include “This American Life Sef”, “Children of a Retired God,” among others.

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