Ezeife, A True Patriot

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The heirs to patriotism in our country are few.

Patriots, dead or alive, are those who have in the midst of tempers, tantrums and tyranny given their lives freely to the services of their country’s oppressed people and for liberty in situations of inequality or internal wars of attrition just like we had in the days of the military junta.

Their efforts have helped to continuously query the basis of our union to save us from the perpetual disruption of our peace. Their efforts shall never be in vain for the oppressed shall be free and a popular government, the one to be truly representative will one day emerge to set free and liberate the various nationalities that make up the country, Nigeria.

Chukwuemeka Ezeife was a true patriot and his dreams were all of  these and more.

But patriotism does not consist only in words. In deed, Chukwuemeka Ezeife was innovative. His acts extolled excellent deeds of bravery. In the dark days of the Abacha regime, many lacked the will, let alone the act to confront tyranny. The clamp down that followed the acts of patriots claimed lives and property. The consistent few flew the flag of freedom at great costs, insistent in peace as in war that equity and justice must prevail over the winner of the June 12, 1993 elections.

On December 15, 2023, Ezeife’s family announced his passing. The Afẹ́nifẹ́re remembers a great man and a great patriot.

At such a time that most would fall into paralyzing despair in the manner Abacha went after NADECO members, Chukwuemeka Ezeife was determined to be of service in the earliest months of the struggle. From the monitor windows in his inner attic, he could view the harbor of freedom and pressed along with the braves.

Reminiscing about the demise of His Excellency Okwadike, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, the leader of the Afẹ́nifẹ́re, Chief Ayo Adebanjo says in his tribute; “When I remember the NADECO days and the fearlessness of those of us in the trenches, I see Ezeife and others like him who wished they could do something but had no powers in that moment, save for their conviction, no tribe, no religion, just the quest for equity and justice.

“I see people, the real patriots being the victims of a system that cannot see, nor will they see the full understanding of freedom, fairness and good governance. We are in a system that lacks humanity, one that simply assumes that power is an end to itself. At the end, what happened to Abacha?” Chief Adebanjo asks… Lowering his head, the Afẹ́nifẹ́re leader solemnly declared, “the world and history always do bend toward justice, even though the arc may be long”.

In his tribute, Chief Supo Shonibare, a close associate of the late titan declares, “what is missing in today’s politics compared with the passion and zeal of the likes of Ezeife is the less nuanced perspective of honor and principles”. “There are less thoughtful people, more thieves and zero ideology. With every second spent with Ezeife, you gain something; in perspective, in delivery, in depth, you gain something”.

Also, in his tribute, the deputy leader of Afẹ́nifẹ́re, Ọba Ọládipọ̀ Ọláìtán praised Chukwuemeka Ezeife for being true to self. “”To thyself be true”, is one of the most difficult of human achievements”, he stressed. As the leader of the AD parliamentary caucus between 1999 and 2003, Oba Ọláìtán reflected upon the events that led to the quietus of AD and remarked upon the exemplary leadership qualities of Chukwuemeka Ezeife who stood by the AD from the beginning to the very end. “The version of Nigeria as as envisaged by Ezeife changed drastically with the incursion of merchantilistic politics. “The AD was the only truly ideological party which was a clear threat to the political carpetbaggers on the outside and to the political infiltrators from the inside, there were those who said our ideological dispensation should stay, bringing life more abundant to the people, freedom from all oppressions. Ezeife was the voice of reason, a totally detribalized politician that did his very best for party and polity”.

Ezeife’s political trajectory gained prominence when he became governor of Anambra State from January 1992 to November 1993. Ezeife, styled himself as a social democrat, very much like the late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awólọ́wọ̀. He was an anticapitalist insofar as criticism about poverty, low wages, unemployment, economic and social inequality, permeate the  economic sphere. Ezeife’s conviction goes beyond self, for as long as economic security is linked to the private ownership that controls every means of production, the lives of the people will always be controlled by a few.

Even with his appointment as presidential adviser on Political Matters to President Olusegun Obasanjo, his political beliefs and convictions still did not fundamentally change. What he stood for and the sort of message that was central to his beliefs were all clear for everyone to see.

In his contribution, the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo, described the late Ezeife as an archetypal futuristic political icon, a non-Yoruba leader of a non-Igbo people, who struggled for national liberation of all oppressed peoples in a polity full of conjoined scavenging elites of all shades and hue, feeding off, cheerfully and fecklessly, unashamedly from our collective commonwealth.

As we bid farewell to a true patriot, the Afẹ́nifẹ́re ethos that has served for upward of 73 years, the fundamental charge to the people, their inalienable rights, the duties of citizenship will continue to remain our pursuit.

We remember our fallen heroes {just as we fondly remember Chukwuemeka Ezeife} their selfless services to building an egalitarian society, the fourfold duties in patriotism; in tyranny to fight bigotry; in peace to work and vote for the best measures and the best public servants; to sit as jurors dishing out justice in equity and equitable measures; and to bear, each according to his means, the cost of preserving democratic institutions and the enthronement of true federalism through restructuring.

As patriotic men and women of all shades, tribes and nationalities come to perform these duties of citizenship, the polity will inevitably come to the realization of the necessity of liberty, of freedom, of equal opportunity, the benefits envisaged by our founding fathers which sadly have remained elusive denying the country of peace and progress, delaying growth and development.

And, until all and sundry take more pride and pleasure in doing what is right for every Nigerian, until, the leadership honorably and zealously does its duties, so will Nigeria continue to suffer and drift.


– Adejumo, of Afenifere, writes from Lagos

Source link: Leadership

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