Reminiscence of Nnamani’s tortuous road to Lion House …….Eyes 10th Senate @ 62

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By Paul Mumeh

Barring any unforeseen circumstances or a likely twist of events on account of the uncertainties that characterizes our polity, former Governor of Enugu State and current Senator representing Enugu East, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani will return to the Senate for a third term in 2023. He got all the votes cast to secure a ticket to contest for the Senatorial seat under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded primaries.

Senator Nnamani’s victory at the Senatorial Primary Election in Enugu is unarguably an uncommon birthday gift by his constituents . He turns 62 on May 30, 2022. He was born on May 30, 1960.

Nnamani has had a chequered political history since his foray into the murky waters of Nigerian politics but his victory at the PDP Senatorial Primary Election is a sort of accomplishment that his people still loves him.

He was in the 6th Senate, 2007 to 2011 and returned to the 9th Senate from 2019 to end in 2023.

Nnamani was an effective governor in Enugu State between 1999 and 2007. He left nobody in doubt about his competence and capacity when he held sway.

He was totally in charge. However, his strategy to change the status quo and the narrative of the political configuration in Enugu State almost ruined him. He protégés; the young elements, he recruited to alter the dynamics of Enugu politics became his immediate albatross . They chased him away when the chips were down. It took the intervention of a gentleman Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to rescue him from the political exile in 2019 , eight years after.

Since his return to the Senate, he has been an activist of sort, championing the course for women and child rights. He believes in the emancipation of the female folks from deprivation, gender disparity as well as dismantling all forms of harmful cultural practices against them.

He has demonstrated in action and words that women rights and human rights that must be respected. He hopes to advance these and more when he returns to the 10th Senate in 2023.

Nnamani is not new to political battles. He has won and lost some in the past. He remains a steady and reliable ally in Enugu political turf. His Ebeano political family has remained the dominant political platform since 1999. The Ebeano political movement has become a dynasty and has consistently produced successive Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members, Ministers, State Houses of Assembly members and Local Government Chairmen and Councilors in Enugu state .

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Hate or love him, Nnamani remains a political leader who dispenses goodwill through the Ebeano structure. The emergence of Peter Mba , his chief of staff when he was a governor as the PDP gubernatorial candidate buttresses the fact. Nnamani against all odds marketed Mba to the people through to his victory at the primaries.

However, not many will recall the political trajectory albeit the tortuous journey of the former Governor to the Government House otherwise called the Lion Building in 1999. His foray into politics as far back as 1996 was daunting and frustrating.

 

He was immediately dismissed as a non-starter by the political bigwigs in the coal city State then especially when he was entering the race without a political godfather or financier. No one gave him a whiff of survival except destiny. But the American trained Obstrestrician and Gynecologist had something going for him; his big dreams and convictions.

Besides, he came into the project with his personal resources from America into a Nigerian economy that was then in comatose; where every little drop of hard currency automatically turned things around . In fact, his appearance on the political turf touched many lives in Enugu State positively.

His link man and foot soldier then, Frank Anioma confirmed that While his political contemporaries and budding politicians like he was were looking for godfathers and sponsors, Nnamani had a head start ahead of his peers. Anioma said that advantage unconsciously made him a rallying point.

He recalled that in 1996, Nnamani virtually sponsored the 24 State House of Assembly candidates under the defunct Grassroot Democratic Movement (GDM) during the late General Sani Abacha influenced five political parties. His party then; the GDM did not perform well. Out of the 24 seats in the State House of Assembly, the GDM in Enugu State got just two.

The United Nigerian Congress Party (UNCP) was the dominant party. The UNCP got 22 Seats, three Senators; Sen Ken Nnamani for Enugu East , Chief Barnard Eze for Enugu North and Chief Hyde Onuaguluchi of Enugu west Senatorial District.

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Despite the initial frustration, Nnamani thereafter realigned with the then dominant UNCP. His unquenchable desire for the plum governorship seat was not dampened. He moved on to the UNCP to struggle for space. He was prepared to face the challenges. By a twist of fate or sheer coincidence, late Head of State, General Sani Abacha who was already coasting home to be “unanimously” adopted presidential candidate by the five political parties died the very day Nnamani was billed to purchase the expression of interest and governorship nomination forms for the polls under the UNCP. That was on June 8, 1998.

Again, Nnamani’s ambition crashed. He returned to America to lick his wounds and continued his medical practice with the Primary goal of raising more funds for the battle ahead. He kept his eyes on the ball.

By the time General Abdulsalami Abubakar took over government and opened the political space in 1998, Nnamani returned to the field. Three political parties were floated; The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Peoples Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD).

Nnamani and his contemporaries joined the PDP. With his eyes on the ball, he kept his governorship ambition alive.

In a manner akin to a triumphant entry once again, he rolled out campaign vehicles, billboards and posters assuring his people “Enugu Dream is still alive; The Power we seek is the power to do good”. The message resonated.

He had since 1996 when he nursed the ambition to govern Enugu State oiled the wheel of political engagements across party lines. So, his investments in the previous failed political organizations paid off as he instantly became the rallying point under the new PDP. Even at that, he faced formidable oppositions from so many old war horses. Recall that before his foray into politics, the Enugu political structure was on a tripod. The Jim Nwobodo in Enugu East, Chief C.C. Onoh Enugu West and the Okwy Nwodo in Enugu North. The trio dictated the pace and dynamics of politics in the State then.

Trusting the General Abubakar short but definite transition programme , the campaigns began, Nnamani was to face more challenges against politically established structures. The aspirants included Silas Iloh, Prince Nduka Agu, Richard Nnamani among others.

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The governorship primary was held at the presidential hotel, Enugu and Nnamani came tops. But curiously and in a dramatic twist of events, the candidature of Prince Nduka Agu was the one sent to Abuja. That was when the political rivalry between Jim Nwobodo and Okwy Nwodo became manifest . Nwodo who was then National Secretary of the PDP was believed to have facilitated the candidature of Nduka Agu. Jim Nwobodo had the goodwill of his friend and contemporary in the defunct Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) of second republic, Chief Solomon Lar, and Abubakar Rimi among others.

Chief Lar was the National Chairman of the PDP. So, the battle shifted from Enugu to Abuja. Wise counsel prevailed and Nnamani was reinstated as the candidate of the party in 1999.

Living his dreams, Nnamani won the election in 1999. He was re-elected in 2003.

What he did or did not do as Governor for eight years is left for history to contend with. But history will be kind to him as the man who redefined politics in Enugu state with the formation of EBEANO political family. The Ebeano political family has become so firmly rooted that it has continued to produce successive political leaders since its formation in 1999. Indeed, politics in Enugu is synonymous with Ebeano.

It is to the credit of Nnamani that his administration then built the new campus of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), the University Teaching Hospital, Parklane Hospital, the famous Ebeano tunnel, the Nigeria Law School, Enugu campus, the Air-force Secondary school among others.

In the Senate, Nnamani has remained outspoken, independent minded and calls a spade its rightful name no matter whose ox is gored. Till date , he remain the only Senator who spoke against the Social media control bill.

He is a successful surgeon who achieved greatness through dint of hard work and perseverance. Currently, a Professor of medicine at ESUT, he teaches and supervises medical student’s pro bono.

As Senator Nnamani turns 62, the age of wisdom, it is hoped that he will rededicate his life to the service of God and humanity in many years to come .

 

 

Paul Mumeh wrote from Abuja




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