Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Adieu Senator Pius Ewherido: Nigeria Lost a Rare Breed and Great Debater

I have not found a Nigerian politician I can endorse and celebrate. I have found Nigerian politicians with little or no conscience. There are many who will sell their offspring if it will get them to any position of power and money. So I write this sad commentary not as an avid fan of Senator Pius Ewherido, the politician, but as an alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University where our paths crossed briefly in the late 1980s.

Before there was ever a Senator Pius Ewherido, there was a student activist known simply as Pius the Great Debater. At the then University of Ife, faculty of Law, we all knew those who have seeds of greatness in them. We knew those who would graduate and steal $1 billion from shady government contracts and then spend one thousand dollars of that ill gotten wealth to buy bags of rice for distribution to the poor and the needy at Christmas time. We knew those who will take the law profession to lofty heights and those who might soon become senior advocate of Nigeria. Pius Ewherido was definitely among those in the latter category. None of us thought he will ever join politics or even aspire to be one. He was brainy, intellectually savvy and a great debater. We all thought he may end up becoming a law professor or a Supreme Court Justice one day. At Ife Law, he is one senior every junior looks forward to his appearance at the moot and mock trial. Along with Isaac Kekemeke, Raji Owonikoko, Mutiu Ganiyu, Churchill Oliseh, and of course the Odidis clan, there was never a dull moment at the faculty of Ife foyer in those days.

Pius the great debater will often convince his opponent to abandon their principled stands and join his side of argument not by any appeal to force but by sheer art of elevated sophistry. You know going in to a debate with him that you had to be prepared. Any opponents who make the mistake to enter into such debates unprepared will rue the day they join issues with him. His appeal is not just words but the soundness of his arguments, backed by facts, figures and statistics. He is a delight to hear in several impromptu debates at Fajuyi hall in those days. He was also a member of the student representative council where he moved the assembly to achieve greatness.

Whatever happened between his transition from Ife and his political days will remain a mystery for sociologist and anthropologist to dissect and researched. When I learnt he won election to Delta state assembly I was excited but then my euphoria was tempered by the platform he ran on. Some of my colleagues cautioned me to never give up and that at least Pius will change the politics of my adopted state-Delta. Unfortunately, Delta politics went from bad to worse. Massive corruption by the convicted former governor of Delta impoverished the state and turned a prosperous state into a pauperized state.

Senator Pius Ewherido eventually left the party and ran on the platform of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and won. Free of the constraint and baggage of PDP he had turned his attention to crafting legislations that address the myriads of problems that ails his people when the cold hands of death cut him down recently.

I stand with Delta people to mourn the demise of a friend, learned colleague and astute debater. Adieu Senator Pius Ewherido

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