Ekweremadu Et Al And The Politics Of The Isi Agu Dress | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ekweremadu Et Al And The Politics Of The Isi Agu Dress

Nnedi Ogaziechi
Posted: Oct 11, 2016 at 8:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

 By Ogaziechi Nnedi

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu must have clinked some glasses over the weekend as they celebrated the fact that Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Federal High Court Abuja struck out the forgery charge brought against them and two others by the Federal Government following the formal withdrawal of the criminal charges against them by the government.

However, for this writer, the high point of this particular case came on the very first appearance of the defendants in court some months back. Senator Ekweremadu appeared in court wearing the legendary Igbo cultural dress, the Isi Agu with a matching cap. The deputy senate president has been in the senate since 2003 representing Enugu West senatorial district. He has been deputy Senate president since the sixth Assembly. Barring any political incidentals, by 2019, he would have served as deputy senate president for twelve solid years.

His emergence as the deputy senate president after the inauguration of the 8th assembly had come to political watchers as some deft political strategy by the PDP that lost power to the APC that had a majority in the National Assembly. A combination of intra party squabbles by the APC and clever political manoeuvrings by the PDP members all worked to throw up a deputy president of Igbo extraction and a member of the opposition PDP.

With the victory came lots of political horse trading and intra as well as inter party high wire politics within the APC leadership. The forgery allegations that followed seemingly set the stage for some political macabre dance that has seemingly been eclipsed with the anti-climactic striking out of the case.

Remember that about twenty-four hours after being arraigned in court alongside the Senate President and two others, Senator Ekweremadu wrote letters to the United Nations, US Congress, United Kingdom, European Union Parliament and foreign missions. He wanted these bodies to be aware that the arraignment of the principal officers of the National Assembly amounted to a ridicule and rubbishing of the legislative arm by the President Mohammed Buhari government.

From the moves of the deputy senate president following the arraignment, there are basic political lessons (for lack of a better description). Wearing the popular Igbo Isi Agu dress complete with the traditional woven red, black and white cap was politically, socially and culturally intended to evoke different emotions depending on who was watching. Coming from a group that the President referred to in his 97% Vs 5% ratio, the Senator wanted to exploit the tribal emotions of his people.

Politically, the Isi Agu dress has been worn by politicians either when they want to campaign in the South East or when they want to address Igbos as a group in other states of the nation. Funny enough even President Buhari, who is not known to pander to cultural persuasive actions, wore the Isi Agu dress during the 2015 election campaigns. Even the governor of Lagos, Akinwumni Ambode lavishly wore the Isi Agu during his Campaign in a state most Igbos feel very marginalised in since the end of the civil war.

Whether the President or governor Ambode still remember where they dropped their Isi Agu dress since the election remain to be seen once the whistle is blown for 2019 elections.

The manipulation of cultural clothing by politicians did not start with the 2015 election and would not end with it either. It is clearly one of the tools politicians use to deepen the ethnic cleavages they project for their own political expediencies. Inter-tribal clothings are never won out of admiration or style, for our politicians, it speaks on their behalf and often won with basic ulterior motives that has nothing to do with love for the people.

The deputy senate president can shout uhuru over the forgery case dismissal, but he should look back and evaluate the import of the symbolic Isi Agu dress beyond the inferred political value. The lion which, by the way, has its head on the dress is the king of the forest and is always protective of its territory. History is documenting how well the Senator has been at the forefront of protecting the interest of his region as the highest ranking public officer for so many years.

If the deputy Senate president can write to the above world bodies for a matter concerning him in less than twenty-four hours, historians are documenting his display of urgent concerns about the plethora of national issues that concern any Nigerian from Bama to Oshogbo, Jos to Ekiti, Aba to Kuje, Obudu to Sabon Gari and all around Nigeria where Nigerians have and are still experiencing injustice and all forms of indignities and human rights abuses.

Being a representative of the people at the legislative arm with a big icing on the cake as a principal officer in the senate should come with huge responsibilities that ought to diminish the individual urge for self-preservation.

Senator Ekweremadu should embody the spirit of the Agu on the dress and be more territorial in his representative duties in ways that do not fade away with the change of clothes. History would be recording heroic acts of protection symptomatic of the lion against those who look beyond their interest because the cultural symbol of the apparel only matters when it is marched with obvious selfless acts that uplift the common man who cannot write to either the UN or the EU or any other world body.