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Ekwueme, Ezeoke, Osinbajo and Gbajabiamila

Eric Teniola

D Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme (1932-2017), from Oko, Orumba North local government area of Anambra State, was the Vice President of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983. Chief Edwin Ume Ezeoke (1935-2011), from Amichi, Nnewi South local government area of Anambra State, was Speaker of House of representatives from 1979-1983. Professor Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo (62) has been Vice-President of Nigeria since 2015.

He was born into the family of Opeoluwa Osinbajo, who was the late Treasurer of Our Saviours Anglican Church, Ikenne, Ogun State. Professor Osinbajo was born in Creek Hospital, Lagos. The vice president’s mother, Madam Olubisi Osinbajo’s parents are both from Ejigbo in Osun State and Ilaro in Ogun State.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Adefemi Akeem Gbajabiamila (57) was born in Surulere, Lagos. Dr. Ekwueme, Chief Ezeoke, Professor Osinbajo and Femi Gbajabiamila are lawyers. Incidentally, Professor Osinbajo and Gbajabiamila are old boys of Igbobi College,Yaba, Lagos. As they say, what goes around comes around. Personal interest not regional or religious interest is the first priority of every politician.

While the election of Mr. Gbajabiamila of the APC as Speaker was planned, that of Chief Ezeoke happened by accident 40 years ago. On October 5, 1978, a meeting was held at the sixth floor of LAPAL HOUSE, at Igbosere, Lagos, which was the headquarters of Hacogen Company Limited. The company was then owned by Dr. Joseph Wayas. It was at the meeting that the National Party of Nigeria zoned offices.

The Presidency was zoned to the North while the Vice Presidency was zoned to Anambra and Imo states. The Presidency of the Senate was zoned to Bendel, Cross River and Rivers states. The chairmanship of the party was zoned to Lagos, Oyo, Ondo and Ogun states while the Speaker of the House of Representatives was zoned to the Middle belt. At that time there were 19 states.

After the August 11, 1979 election, the then Federal Electoral Commission, FEDECO, declared President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari GCFR (February 25, 1925 -December 28, 2018) as President. All the four parties, UPN, NPP, GNPP and PRP condemned the declaration. They immediately formed an alliance to show their condemnation.

A press conference was called immediately at Eko Holiday Inn, Victoria Island, Lagos and was addressed by the presidential candidate of the NPP, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. All the other presidential candidates, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim and Alhaji Aminu Kano attended the press conference. The press conference was the last act the NPP took on the issue for the party developed cold feet thereafter. The NPP became “a beautiful bride”. The NPN dangled a carrot in front of the NPP.

On August 19, 1979 the UPN filed an action at the Presidential Election Tribunal to protest the declaration of the Federal Electoral Commission of Chief Michael Ani. The tribunal was headed by Justice Boonyami Oladiran Kazeem of the Federal Court of Appeal. On September 11, the tribunal upheld the declaration by FEDECO that Alhaji Shehu Shagari was duly elected as President.

Not satisfied with that judgment, the Unity Party of Nigeria led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo filed an appeal at the Supreme Court. The appeal was filed on behalf of the party by Chief Godwin Olusegun Kolawole Ajayi (1931-2014). On September 26, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Five Judges of the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Alhaji Shehu Shagari while two were opposed.

Those in favour were the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Atanda Fatai Williams (1918-2002), Justice Chukwuwike Idigbe (1923-1983), Justice Ayo Gabriel Irekefe (1922-1996), Justice Mohammed Bello (1930-2004) and Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais (83). The two opposed to the judgment were Justice Kayode Eso (1925-2012) and Justice Andew Otutu Obaseki (1925-2017).

After the judgment of the Supreme Court, Alhaji Shehu Shagari took the oath of office at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos on October 1, 1979. He gave an indication shortly after that he wanted to run an all-inclusive government.

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