Return of Ebeano to the Senate
By Paul Mumeh
At the end of the Nigeria/ Biafra fratricidal civil war in 1970, the popular saying and way of greeting in the defunct Eastern Region Now South-east and some parts of today’s South-south states then was “Happy Survival “. It was like a signature tune that lasted for many years until normalcy returned to the war torn geo- political zone of Nigeria.
In Nigeria and many parts of Africa, election into political positions are unarguably akin to going to war. This is because like going to war front, everything including money and all the arsenals of war are deployed by the political gladiators. It is therefore not out of place to greet any politician who wins or survives an election battle in Nigeria “Happy Survival “.
On the return of democracy otherwise called civil rule in Nigeria in 1999, one of the frontline state governors arguably was Senator Chimaroke Ogbonnaya Nnamani of Enugu state. Whatever he did rightly or wrongly during his eight years in the Lion House as the seat of Government in Enugu state is dubbed is left for posterity to judge.
But what is not controvertible is that Dr. Nnamani, a medical Doctor who specialized in fetus medicine brought his knowledge and candor to bear in the administration of the coal city state. He did not leave any one in doubt that he was firmly in charge and control. A highly cerebral personality, he brought scholarship into governance. To his credit, Dr. Nnamani introduced a new lexicon into the political arena in 1999, when coined the phrase “Dividends of Democracy “that became the sing-song of politicians.
Among the high points of his administration was the revolutions in Education and Health Sectors in Enugu state. He brought uncommon touch to the state university, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) when he built a modern Teaching Hospital with state-of-the-art equipment. It was Nnamani who completed and moved the university to its permanent site, Agbani.
Enugu, the state capital and other towns benefitted from the massive road infrastructure.
He created a new set of political class code named Ebeano political family.
The family became so large and indeed dominated the Enugu political space to the extent that any politician who became anything was a product of the Ebeano political family. From the Senator Ken Nnamani who later became President of the Senate between 2005 and 2007, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Nnamani’s successor former Governor Sullivan Chime, Senator Ayogu Eze including but not limited to the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, all without exception are offsprings of the Ebeano political dynasty.
Unfortunately, what Dr. Nnamani envisaged as a new dawn in the political equation of Enugu state proved to be his greatest undoing. He unknowingly incurred the wrath of former political leaders in the state. Before his emergence, Enugu politics stood on a tripod of former governors; Chief Jim Nwobodo (Enugu East) , late Chief C.C. Onoh ( Enugu West) and Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo (Enugu north).
Nnamani was therefore drawn into a political battle for the soul of Enugu politics early in the day with the former political godfathers. For the greater part of his eight years’ administration, he fought for his political survival. The battle almost took the front burner that his huge achievements almost went unrecognized.
Sadly, for him, his new political family (political godsons) most of them already in positions of authority and affluence then jumped ship and abandoned him in the struggle for political survival soon after he left office in 2007. He was left to bear the birth pain of political fatherhood all alone. So what ordinarily should have been to his political advantage turned out to be a sore point.
He had an unending legal tussle with anti-graft agencies on account of petitions against him. But at the end of the day, he was left off the hook a free man.
His tenure in the Senate between 2007 and 2011 was not too steady on account of the legal battle. On a few occasions he participated in the Senate activities, Nnamani showed brilliance and left no one in doubt about his scholarly prowess and competence. On one particular day as the then Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Nnamani had the opportunity to present a report of the committee when the then chairman, Professor Jubril Aminu delegated him to do so. For a voluminous committee work/ report, Senator Nnamani unusually presented the report extempore. He delivered the comprehensive report for more than an hour without looking at the papers. The Senate plenary session was a pin dropped silence. What kind of man is this they asked? Then President of the Senate, Senator Dr. David Mark remarked “This is a unique and exceptional kind of Senator. Good job, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani “.
Perhaps on account of disappointment and outright betrayal by his supposed political godsons whom he was expected to lean on in times of need, he left the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for a new political party; the People for Democratic Change (PDC) but maintained the Ebeano political family. For obvious reasons, the PDA did not make much impact. Nnamani almost went into political oblivion but for the sustenance of the Ebeano political family by a handful of loyalists.
But somehow, one good man among the lots of his political children and the incumbent governor of Enugu state Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (aka Gburu Gburu) remembered him. The governor facilitated Nnamani’s return to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), He contested and clinched the Enugu East Senatorial candidate’s seat and fortune smiled on him. He won the Senatorial election of February 23, 2019.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Senator Nnamani will resume in the Senate as a ranking Senator in June this year.
One thing is certain, if nothing distracts him, Nnamani will bring vibrancy and brilliance into parliamentary business. No doubt, his return would add value to the quality of law making bringing his experience in the executive and his experience as a Senator. He will blend it with his experience in America where Nigeria borrowed the presidential system of government. Before joining politics in 1999, he had plied his trade as a Medical Doctor in America for many years.
He will surely bring excellence and capacity to any role he will play. Importantly, Nnamani is a clear leader in the South East geopolitical zone who is expected to be the rallying point.
Nnamani’s idealism will definitely fire most his action at a time of rabid cronyism in government. Above all, he is most likely to reenact the Ebeano lecture series.
Welcome to the red chamber otherwise called the upper legislative chamber once again.
The game has just begun.
Mumeh wrote from Abuja.