By Paul Mumeh
For some inexplicable or extraneous political circumstances, former Governor of Enugu State and current Senator of the Federal Republic, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani stayed out of political space for almost 12 years.
Like a good strategist, he reasoned that he who fights and runs way, lives to fight another day. Besides that, it is not a weakness of character but indeed, strength to avoid trouble. So, he went into “political exile.”
He was barely remembered for these periods except for some of his legacies as a governor and the few loyalists of the Ebeano political dynasty he nurtured and midwifed in the Coal City State.
His intermittent incursions into Enugu politics for the period met brick walls. But by some uncommon but divine intervention and indeed a twist of history, kind of, Senator Nnamani made his way back into the political reckoning. The benevolence of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (aka Gburugburu) played a crucial role in this too.
Except relying on documentations or archives, no one but history remembers the intellectual giant in Nnamani which he espouses through the Ebeano lecture series. As Governor, his lectures unarguably enriched the political discourse of that era.
Today, Nnamani is back to the Senate with a sole mission to serve his constituents and the nation faithfully and diligently. He affirmed his commitment to participate in the making of the Nigerian project where every citizen has the opportunity to aspire and achieve his God given potential in a free, fair and mutually respectful manner.
The thrust of this however is to bring to the fore the return of the Ebeano leadership and lecture series in which Nnamani discusses burning national issues, the peace and unity of Nigeria and how to make the nation a better place.
In his first lecture marking his return, Nnamani believes that Nigeria would not just be the giant of Africa but the world if we get our priorities right, harnessing human and material resources appropriately.
In the lecture titled ”Dike Nwanyi-Igbo: Amazons as Leaders, delivered at the 43rd Graduation Anniversary and 2nd Reunion of Class of 1976 of theAnglican Girls Grammar School, Awkunanaw, Enugu State, Nnamani traced the history of women struggle for liberation against obnoxious cultural practices, political and economic emancipation, and the overall interest of building a home, nay the nation.
Nnamani went memory lane from pre-colonial era, slave trade, independence struggle, the ill-fated Nigeria/Biafra fratricidal civil war to the present day of how women have been the pillars in the home front and the needed elixir for the men to accomplish their task.
He paid glowing tributes to Mrs. Nwanyeruwa, who spearheaded the famous Aba Women riot of 1929, whom he described as legendary and iconic woman who led the first documented Igbo women resistance that defined the character, integrity, poise and defiance of the Igbo race beyond masculine parochialism.
Nnamani named a foremost professor of history and author of the University of Jos, Elizabeth Allo Isichei who authored “Igbo Worlds: An Anthology of Oral Histories and Historical Descriptions”, Nigerian filmmaker and broadcasting executive, Amaka Igwe, Flora Nwanzuruahu Nwapa of EFURU fame and the first female Commissioner for Health and Social Welfare in the defunct East Central State in the 1970s, Oyibo Ekwulo Odinamadu who pioneered the Women’s Cultural and Philanthropic Organisation ( WCPO) in Enugu in 1958, to educate women on the imperatives of voluntary, charitable and non-profit making organization and activities. It is of importance that the Odinamadu led WCPO played mediatory role during the civil war.
Other women of note included but not limited to freedom fighters; Margaret Ekpo, Ahebi Ugbabe and Nkpolo Nwaugwudu-Elele, among others. Scores of these women of strength and character, Nnamani stated, paid the supreme prize so that others may be free.
In all, he clarified that the theme of his lecture was not by any means an attempt to compare the powers and effects of the genders but “I am here to celebrate the womenfolk of my era, as they always stood on to fill vital gaps when men were either too busy, heavily threatened or distracted in many ways. In other words, I am more inclined to celebrate the synergy and fusion of the powers and potentials in men and women.”
Nnamani praised the ex-students led by their President, Lady Bridget Oduah, for coming together after 43 years to contribute to the rebuilding of their alma mater, saying “the price of so many of you who left your appointed homes in Europe, America and other parts of the world to be here, is a valued price for regeneration, industry and further commitment. It can never be in vain. You have arrived as a great and potent reminder of what started, what has been running even if fitfully and what is promised as great strides of the future”.
He prayed to be a source of light and goodness wherever he goes. He believes that a good leader is always set apart by certain attributes, saying “I will not only care, give and provide but I will humbly serve”.
Lady Oduah said the dilapidation and deterioration of infrastructure in the school requires immediate attention, adding, “we were moved to tears when we visited our alma mater. From the hostels, classrooms and laboratories, it is a pitiable sight. We must collectively do the needful to remedy the situation.”
Host, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi maintained a dignified silence in apparent total approval to give education a priority attention as the bedrock of any progress or development of any society.
Chairman of the event, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, praised the intellectual prowess of Nnamani which he brought to bear to turn Enugu State around during his tenure as governor.
Anglican Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, urged governments at all levels to give proper attention to education if the nation is to make the needed progress.