Where is Chimaroke Nnamani?
From Tony Adibe, Enugu He is indisposed now. You know he has not been well for some time, but he is making progress.” That was the reply in form of text message, which one of the aides to the former Enugu State governor, Dr Chimaroke Ogbonnia Nnamani, sent to our correspondent. Other enquiries from other sources close to Nnamani to ascertain the state of his health were not successful. Has his state of health confined him to his Oji-Agu village, Agbani in Nkanu West Local Government Area of the state? Or could it be that he is in Abuja, Lagos or flown abroad like other prominent Nigerians who usually embark on medical tourism once they fall ill? What has happened to Nnamani’s public lecture series?
Chimaroke Nnamani, a medical doctor turned politician served as the governor of Enugu State from 1999 to 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a party he later dumped like a used tissue paper. Although he once told journalists at the Governor’s Lodge (on the red rug) that after serving as governor for eight years he would pack his bag and baggage back to his hometown, Agbani, to take a political rest, that was not to be. The natural ambition in man kept driving him on. He later won election to the Senate on the platform of the PDP to represent the Enugu East senatorial zone between 2007 and 2011. He enjoyed the support of the “Ebeano” political structure, which in those days was likened in some circles to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Movement. Ebeano was loved and dreaded at the same time by some Enugu citizens. The political structure was later to become too powerful and domineering at the time that receiving gains of democracy and other things that followed would depend on one’s support for and membership of the “political family.”
It would rather be unfair not to acknowledge his achievements during his eventful but controversial eight years as governor. His administration built the Enugu State University of Science and Technology Teaching Hospital (ESUTTH), the popular Ebeano Tunnel Crossing, ESUT permanent site at Agbani, the International Conference Centre, Ebeano Housing Estate, dualisation of several roads in the Enugu metropolis, the Nigerian Law School at Agbani, the judiciary complex, among numerous others. Even till date, there is the evidence of Nnamani’s human capital development in the several men and women he pulled out from the pit of poverty and obscurity and placed on the hill of affluence and relevance.
However, the state of insecurity which reigned supreme at the time, coupled with the iron-fisted style of administration he adopted, apparently to command political loyalty from those working with him, almost rubbished the achievements he recorded as governor. Expectedly, his critics have held on to the negative part of his administration.
As governor, Nnamani spared time for intellectual engagements, especially with his public lecture series across the country. However, his public lectures were sharp contrast to his democratic practices. For instance, he could deliver a public lecture this week on why a democrat should not be a tyrant or dictator, and the next week, you could read newspaper headlines of his high-handedness and dictatorial tendencies. In some quarters, his public lectures were seen as “follow my teachings, but not my actions.”
Early this year, it was rumoured that Nnamani had gone back to the PDP. However, nobody has been able to confirm that piece of information. He had left the party for the People for Democratic Change (PDC) following what he described as an unacceptable treatment he received from his successor.
The news of his return to the PDP, however, ignited some reactions within the party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as well as nonpoliticians. For example, a former national auditor of the PDP, Raymond Nnaji, a lawyer, had said that Nnamani’s return to the party would make the Enugu East senatorial zone formidable and complete, as well as reposition it for the 2019 elections.
“Nnamani’s return is the tonic the PDP requires to win elections in Enugu State. He has returned to the party, which he helped to institutionalise in the state. He actually returned to the PDP a long time, but we decided to make it a secret. Sullivan Chime, the immediate past governor, realised that Nnamani had returned and decided to quit. This is because he cannot face Nnamani in the party,” Nnaji had said.
A chieftain of the APGA, Jude Uwaoma also said, “Former Governor Nnamani is not new in the politics of the state. He is also not new in the politics of the PDP. He met his political fortunes being a member of the PDP, and if he has decided to retrace his steps, I see it as a healthy development. You must bear in mind that in all these years, he has kept his political family, ‘Ebeano’ intact.”
Furthermore, chairman of the APC in Enugu State, Dr Ben Nwoye said, “I think it is part of the freedom to exercise his right, but he has continued in the path of mistake when he founded a oneman party, the PDC. That mistake took him out of the Senate.”
“When everyone is sounding the alarm that the PDP is decimated, he is ýtaking the other path. Where people are coming out from is where he is rushing to. It is his political decision, but it is absolutely no threat.
“If the former governor wants to go on and join a political party clearly not in existence, it is his own business. But again,
Also, his PDC has not even won a local government election in Enugu State since it came on board
our doors are widely open if he changes his mind.”
However, it is said that politics is not on his mind for now as he is still recuperating.
Observers still believe that the former governor shot himself in the foot politically when he dumped the PDP, a party that catapulted him to limelight. He has contested two unsuccessful elections on the platform of the PDC. In 2011 and 2015 respectively, he vied for the Enugu East senatorial zone on the platform of the PDC and lost.
One of his political beneficiaries, Gilbert Nnaji of the PDP, who occupies the seat currently, defeated him in all the elections. Also, his PDC has not even won a local government election in Enugu State since it came on board.
Recently, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, alluded to the futility of jumping from one party to another when he chided Chime for leaving the PDP for the APC. Ekweremadu had said: “Chime’s problem is inexperience. He has failed to learn from the experience of former governors from the state who abandoned the political party that gave them prominence for other smaller parties and are regretting it till today because they cannot recover from the mistake.”
In September 2015, Nnamani lost his beloved wife, Nnenna Agnes, 47, to the cold hands of death.
Nnamani was born on May 1960. He is a medical doctor and Nigerian politician from Enugu State. He was Governor of Enugu State from 1999 to 2007 and represented the Enugu East senatorial district in the National Assembly, from 2007 to 2011.
Although born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nnamani attended Methodist Primary School, Enugu, and College of the Immaculate Conception (CIC), also in Enugu. He is a graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria (Enugu Campus). He had his postgraduate training in the State University of New York and the Inter-faith Medical Centre/ Down State Medical Centre, Brooklyn, New York (Obstetrics and Gynecology).
For now, no one knows what would be the former governor’s line of action when he recovers from a yet-to-be disclosed illness. However, it is believed that he would bounce back to active politics since his Ebeano political structure is still alive.
However, his public lectures were sharp contrast to his democratic practices. For instance, he could deliver a public lecture this week on why a democrat should not be a tyrant or dictator, and the next week, you could read newspaper headlines of his high-handedness and dictatorial tendencies
Dr Chimaroke Ogbonnia Nnamani