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Okosisi: How Ekwueme knocked out K.O

To understand the present, we must learn from the past. It is an honour to consult Chief Joe Ifedobi, better known as Okosisi of Akpo in Anambra State. We got talking recently and the emergence of Dr. Alex Ekwueme as vice president was thrilling. Dr Ekwueme Okosisi knows so much about events and people. He let me into the liberal lifestyle of late Sultan Maccido, the nickname of Aremo Segun Osoba, the London years of Chief Moses Ekpo and Lindsay Barrett’s friendship with Ajie Ukpabi Asika. Ekwueme had arrived from holidays in East Africa after defending his PhD thesis in Architecture at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow when politicians were gearing up for the Second Republic. Benue 2019: Ortom in a bounce as crises hit opposition Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the National Party of Nigeria [NPN] presidential candidate was set to announce his running mate. All eyes were on Dr. Kingsley Ozuomba[K.O.] Mbadiwe who had dwarfed Dr. Dike Nworah. Mbadiwe had very rich political credentials and his verbosity attracted attention. His grandiloquence was rather infectious for the man could bulldoze through the political space like a caterpillar. Alhaji Maitama Sule was Chairman of the Public Complaints Commission, located at 25 Norman Williams, Ikoyi, Lagos. Mr. Kanu Chukwu Okoro served as secretary. One evening, there was a meeting at Number 10 Club Road, Ikoyi. Attendees included Maitama Sule, Okoro, Selcan Miner, former Secretary to the Benue-Plateau State Government, Hawson Wright of Lagos State, Njiole Okereke and Okosisi. Maitama Sule raised a question. “Who is this Alex Ekwueme? Okosisi was not going to delve into politics for the Ekwueme he knew, meant so much to the people of Aguata. “ Ekwueme is from my Local Government Area. Our most outstanding philanthropist who has awarded scholarship to many, through his Foundation located on Martins Street. The man is not a government contractor and is above corruption.” That was Okosisi’s response. Chief Ifedobi was more interested in Ekwueme’s contribution to the Aguata people than a political appointment. He did not want them to lose his services. Maitama Sule, thought otherwise. On the eve of the nomination, Maitama Sule, picked the phone and spoke at length with Shagari in Hausa. The NPN candidate loved Ekwueme’s background as an architect for he had plans of constructing affordable houses if elected president. Day of nomination came and venue was Mbadiwe’s Jibowu Street, Yaba, Lagos property. It sounded like the man of ‘timber and calibre’ was going to receive the loudest ovation. 2019: Ezekwesili picks party chairman as running mate Maitama Sule joined Okosisi’s Fiat 124 to the nomination ground. Ekwueme was not even introduced. At the end, Shagari’s running mate turned out to be a green horn: Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme. Those who could not understand the game thought Ekwueme bought the slot with his millions. He was a big spender, yes. What they did not understand was that the architect did not spend a dime on politics until his emergence as vice presidential candidate. Again, Okosisi comes in. “ Ekwueme never paid to get NPN’s nomination. The money he donated after that was not announced. It was later we got to know that it was two million naira,” he said. Shagari and Maitama Sule schemed out Mbadiwe apparently because it was going to be tough working with someone who was their senior in politics. By 1955, K.O. was minister of communications and civil aviation under the British. The other Nigerian ministers were :Raymond Njoku, Adegoke Adelabu, Festus Okotie-Eboh, Kola Balogun and Muhammadu Ribadu. Inua Wada and Victor Mukete, the Cameroonian, were Ministers without Portfolio. When Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa inaugurated the First All Nigerian Federal Executive Council in 1957, Mbadiwe became minister of commerce and Industry. Shagari and Maitama Sule became ministers in December 1959, four years after Mbadiwe’s first appointment. And it took another six years for the trio to serve in the Balewa government, at the same time. After the nomination of Ekwueme, K.O. went back home to contest senatorial elections in Orlu. During the NPN primaries, he defeated Chief Emmanuel Akwiwu, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, in the First Republic. However, a dark horse, Dr. Elijah Emezie, of the Nigeria Peoples Party [NPP] felled the Iroko. The winner was quietly doing his medical practice in Orlu and that was like a fight between David and Goliath. For that feat, the Nkwerre Womens’ Cultural group, led by, Emily, whose beautiful voice could melt men with hearts of steel, sang Emezie’s praise. After four years, fate was cruel to Emezie who lost the NPP nominations in 1983 to Arthur Nzeribe’s deep pocket. Shagari later compensated Mbadiwe with the grandiose position of special assistant for National Assembly Liaison. Some poked fun and said it was like ‘creating a boy boy job for a Big Boy.’ Later, President Shagari, found an omnibus title for the man who built The Palace of the People, a massive country home in Arondizuogu. Dr. Kingsley Ozuomba Mbadiwe. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. When the second republic was halted by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Ekwueme was first whisked to Bonny Camp by soldiers led by Maj. Mustapha Jokolo. A search by Igwe P.N. Anokwu of Mbaukwu and Engr. Aneto Okeke, the deposed vice president’s cousin, confirmed that Buhari did not want visitors around. It was Okosisi that later organized a lorry that packed Ekwueme’s belonging to Okoh. Sultan Maccido was driven to the Murtala Mohammed Airport by Okosisi, a few hours before he was announced as Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki’s successor. They had left Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Falomo, after a funeral service for the senior banker, Mr. Egegbara. Moses Ekpo was information officer at the Nigeria High Commission, London when Buhari tried to crate Alhaji Umaru Dikko in 1985. Okosisi describes the pioneer Akwa Ibom Information Commissioner as a “ humble, honest and good adviser.” Segun Osoba, who joined Daily Times in 1964, and worked in Port Harcourt, owned a Vespa. That is why he is known as ‘Scooter.’ He played a role in Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife’s emergence as governor of Anambra State in 1982. Barrett, the Jamaican, worked with Asika in East Central State, as chief information officer. Both were at the University of Ibadan before the Civil War.

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