When recently the news broke out that the former governor of Enugu State, Senator (Dr) Chimaroke Nnamani, had registered at his Ojiagu-Ward in Nkanu-West LGA as a member of the people’s Democratic Party, PDP, it was greeted with mixed reactions in several quarters.
In one instance, it was interpreted to mean that coast is now clear for him to return to a party he co-founded in the state with the exit of two of his major beneficiaries who turned out later to become his major traducers, in the persons of his successor, Sullivan Chime, and former senate president Ken Nnamani. Jim Nwobodo, Chimaroke’s benefactor had earlier left the party for the ruling APC before the others.
Again, while the deputy president of senate Ike Ekweremadu was cajoling Chime for dumping PDP he referred to Nnamani as one those that left the party and had their fingers burnt. It is on that premise that another divide held that Nnamani’s return is a crass demonstration of meekness by a man who has truly learnt some lessons from past deeds.
Then between these two opinions is the view that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in a show of love and respect to his grand godfather, may have elected to offer Chimaroke Nnamani a lease of life by way of re-inventing and resettling him politically. This appears more valid than the fore-going.
So in the face of these varying opinions Nnamani’s action is understandable but irrespective of those, his mindset, carriage and disposition combined would determine how he goes and succeeds in the long run. This is indeed yet another defining moment for him.
Instructively also Nnamani had attempted this very home-coming move some three years ago but was vehemently resisted by the government of Chime. Inquiry revealed that it was a grand design to pave way for Chime’s chief of staff, Ifeoma Nwobodo who was from the same Nnamani’s local government and way gunning for senate. Going by trending news albeit very old, that undemocratic plot was roundly condemned. Specifically Gilbert Nnaji had this to say: “I decry Enugu State government’s and PDP’s move to stop Nnamani from returning to the party. His return is a welcome development. PDP’s umbrella is big enough to accommodate the old, returning and new members. If Nnamani is readmitted, it shows the party is repositioning to continue as the ruling party in the country and Enugu cannot be an exception. PDP’s door is open for anybody who cares to enter. Nnamani’s re-entry is an asset to the party because as an ex-governor and a former senator, he has much to offer to ensure the party’s success in next year’s elections.” (https://thenationonlineng.net/dont-stop-nnamani-returning-pdp/)
Therefore adopting Nnaji’s stance and then sounding from historical and political perspectives, this is a golden opportunity for Chimaroke Nnamani to re-write his story. This is benevolence by providence for his image, public perception and overall reputation to be re-engineered for a lasting convergence and consistency. Records have to be straightened and impressions recreated positively. This is certainly the time to practically reflect the essential ingredients of those his highly-cerebral lecture series that took him round the country then. This is when he should offer the kind of leadership that would inject new blood and rejuvenate the party that rode him to fame. Occasion calls for his profound commitment to every sacrifice needed to fuel the current drive to achieve for his Igbo nation, the much-eluded genuine socio-political re-integration. He has to take utmost advantage of this moment to earn himself a place among the league of patriotic statesmen that would be celebrated as having provided all the answers to the litany of national questions with a cardinal view of making the Nigerian project a workable venture. In other words, a virgin future has now stretched itself right before Nnamani and what he makes out of it is a choice he alone has to make!
But as a friendly admonition, Nnamani, not-minding the direct and remote appeals cannot afford to bungle this opportunity. No, he cannot! He cannot be overwhelmed and influenced by the drums of war being beaten by some political charlatans and over-zealots. No, he cannot afford to tow the self-destruct path though laced with aromatic roses paved by those seeking relevance and vendetta. He cannot cut an image of a warrior coming to fight again. He cannot be carried away by the washy toga of a man coming to posses his possessions. He cannot fall for the temptation that this is clearly an opportunity to avenge his seemed series of political betrayal and humiliation.
Nnamani should rather assume the status of ijele masquerade that appears and the lesser ones go to bed. He should be a lion or an eagle that is not commonly seen. God forbids, but in the event that he offers himself to be ruined by certain band of self-seeking, vindictive and empty-headed interlopers parading as his handlers, then posterity would certainly be harsh on him.
Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu of blessed memory at one crucial time expressed dissatisfaction with the then Nigeria under Yakubu Gowon. His subsequent actions compelled the federal military government to declare a full scale war on the Eastern Region which consequently forced Ojukwu into exile. Twelve years later, he returned to Nigeria. He was to contest several elections in the same country that he did not believe in. Expectedly, he lost in all the elections and until his demise; those electoral losses marked a very big albatross he had to contend with. It is logical not to expect good from a system you do not believe in and or equally dreads you. Besides, a good warrior should not go to battle unprepared.
Understandably though, there are many reasons Chimaroke Nnamani should not heed this sermon.
There is consensus that things have dramatically taken a new turn. Now that he has a formidable platform with a friendly governor he needs to prove to those his rebellious and unfaithful decampee-beneficiaries that he actually made them and that he can still stop them anytime, any day especially as their new party, APC, is yet unpopular in the state.. He needs to show the world that can still fight and also that his political magic wand is still intact and potent. He must contest and go back to the senate in order to spite Chime and Ken Nnamani. No doubt there are many favourable factors moreso with Governor Ugwuanyi on his side, it is fait accompli.
But at the risk of sounding pessimistic one is under compulsion to imagine what happens if all these apparent fair conditions fail to deliver him in the end. Politics is not rhetoric or mere board room permutations. There are plans and proposals that appear fantastic on papers but unrealistic on ground. What becomes of Nnamani if he goes out for another round of political battle and suffers yet another loss, especially in view of his health status?
Authoritatively, Chimaroke Nnamani contested for return ticket to the senate twice and lost both to Senator Gilbert Nnaji. He painstakingly challenged the outcome of the recent one at the courts but lost. Beyond the usual claim by some losers of votes being rigged and courts manipulated against them, 2015 general elections and attendant litigations were relatively acceptable both home and abroad. It means that Nnamani lost the elections as he could not prove those vociferous claims of irregularities at the appeal court. Besides if he was convinced that the party he founded, PDC, could deliver him to victory, there would not be need to change political party now after the previous attempt.
The latent truth about Nnamani’s improved outing at the last elections was simply that he benefitted immensely from the fall out of the internal wrangling that threatened PDP in the state then. Chime and his powerful chief of staff, Ifeoma Nwobodo, preferred Nnamani to Nnaji as a sort of protest against the party’s refusal to allow them fly the flags to the senate respectively. There were compromises. Keen observers would recall that despite the strayed relationship between Nnamani and Chime, it was during the heat of the electioneering that the latter as the sitting governor saw the imperativeness of mending fences with the former. Ifeoma Nwobodo as a PDP senatorial hopeful did not feature on any campaign rally or had a credit of working for the victory of her party. Some reactionary elements were attracted to constitute a riotous and combative crowd who were later found not be registered voters as their noise some values could not translate to valid votes. Nnamani though ran a robust campaign but without evidence of performance as a senator for four years. All his claims were centred on achievements as governor. If it did not fly then, is it now?
Furthermore, the corruption case that led to his eventual conviction and subsequent forfeiture of virtually all he acquired as governor has rendered him certainly not a positive role model for the aspiring leaders. It has completely robbed him of every meaningful message and inspiration he has for the younger generations. He has absolute nothing to his credit as a senator. The mixed perceptions of his days as governor relative to jingoism and near insecurity always come to the fore whenever elections come calling.
These are some of the bases I dispassionately suggest that he pauses and ponders on the pros and cons of his steps in the days ahead.
He should make up his mind not to be predicted again. He should exhibit some elements of diplomacy and tact. His actions and reactions should be properly located in public interest. He should truly play a father so that after every political contest he would still play sincere reconciliatory roles. He should realize that with the exit of Ken Nnamani and Sullivan Chime who had teamed up to rather complicate his graft-related matters the only way to pay them back is to ensure that the party they left and declared dead is revived and repositioned to continue to win elections in the state.
He should not play to the gallery in a bid to impress the subversives and opportunists creating battle fronts for him merely for selfish gains. He should not be seen as being unreasonably desperate for power. It would amount embarrassing Governor Ugwuanyi and rubbishing his government if Nnamani wastes this rare restorative opening. Unlike his own days there is today a governor that accommodates other political parties or partisan interests. He should leverage on that attribute and become a rallying point for the peace, growth and development of Enugu State. This is one all-important role that Ken Nnamani who given his commanding height failed to assume. He left the party that announced him yet his wife whom it was reported has as highest educational qualification, WAEC, is a governing council member of the Enugu State University under PDP government. Enugu State House of Assembly is currently preoccupied with the myriads of public complaints about inhuman treatments meted out to the entire south-east consumers by an electricity company that has Ken Nnamani as a major player. Chimaroke should know that time is now ripe for Enugu State to deepen her status as the political capital of Ndigbo.
At a time Bola Tinubu and other colleagues are playing active national politics, Nnamani cannot be routinely embroiled in local contest just because some vindictive and lily-livered persons sarcastically clap for him. Let me please, study the terrain before stepping. Uchenna Nnaji, Nana Ogbodo, Frank Nweke, Raymond Nnaji and Chinyeaka Ohaa are his boys from Nkanu-West LGA. He should encourage them rather.
Hon. Ike Nwatu wrote from Enugu