*Why I gave APC N5 million in 2014
*Accepts to run for Senate in 2019
By Uche Anichukwu, Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ekweremadu, has warned against the muzzling of the opposition by the ruling party, insisting that multiparty and opposition remained the beauty of democracy.
Recalling how he supported the All Progressives Congress (APC) with the sum of N5 million at its formative stage in 2014, to help expand the political space, Ekweremadu said that the APC would not have emerged victorious in the 2015 election had the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former President Goodluck Jonathan been repressive.
This was even as he has accepted to run for the Enugu West Senatorial District in the 2019 general elections.
Ekweremadu spoke when the people of Enugu West stormed his residence on Sunday to present him with the PDP nomination form, which they purchased for him, insisting that he must return to the Senate in 2019 to continue with his quality representation.
He said: “The beauty of democracy is the enlargement of the political space in which everybody is free to participate, bring and exchange ideas, and disagree in order to agree. But we are not seeing that today.
“I will tell you something that is going to shock you. In 2014 when APC started, they wanted to register members in Enugu State. Senator Chris Ngige called me and said they were having problem registering members in Enugu State, and asked if I help them. I was the Deputy President of the Senate in the PDP, but I gave them N5 million. Ngige is still my witness.
“During that 2015 election, one lady came to me and said she wanted to run against me on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and she needed my support. I said okay, I will start by paying for your nomination form because I believe every party must be given a chance. She lost the election, but I later helped to secure a political position for her.
“Just yesterday, I also got a call from a man who introduced himself as an engineer from Achi, but lives in Jigawa. He later came with his family to tell me that he wanted to run for the Senate in Enugu West. I congratulated him and offered to help purchase his nomination form. But he told me he had already bought his form. He was surprised when I offered to buy form for him. As far as I am concerned, all power belongs to God.
“We should not try to reduce the political space. We must allow people to participate. You can disagree with people, but you must not try to harass them with security agencies and the rest. That is bringing us a lot of embarrassment in the international community”.
On the pleas by his people for him to return to the Senate in 2019, Ekwermadu said their visit came at a time he was still pondering his next move.
“A Few weeks ago, I reflected on my past engagements with the people of Enugu West and I was satisfied that, by the grace of God, we were able to make so many improvements in the lives of our people.
“I also tried to reflect on my present political trials, persecution and harassment, but I said it could only happen because God allowed it. I believe that God will take care of it and we will triumph.
“One option is to come back to you in Enugu and run my Foundation, which will give me opportunity to mentor young men and women in leadership. The second is probably to go to a university and take a fulltime academic job and also try to mentor young people in school.
“But my dilemma there is: what happens to all of you that have been my partners in the politics? I concluded that we would collectively decide the next move.
“Today, you have spoken, and since you are my employers, I have no choice than to humbly accept to run for the Senate again”, Ekweremadu added.
Presenting the nomination form to Ekweremadu on behalf of the people of Enugu West, the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter, Hon. Alex Ogbonnia as well as the National President, Enugu West Peoples Assembly, called on the Igbo to return their first 11, including Ekweremadu.
“Representation must have to deal with relationship with the grassroots and ability to interface with the national authorities in order to attract dividends to the people and we have been very lucky with the representation of Senator Ike Ekweremadu”, Hon. Ogbonnia said.