Chimaroke Nnamani,  Progenitor of Ebeano politics @ 64.

Chimaroke Nnamani,  Progenitor of Ebeano politics @ 64.

Hate  or love him, Senator Chimaroke  Nnamani; former Governor of Enugu State does not pretend to be who he is not. He takes his stand based on personal convictions and holds on tenaciously to it no matter whose ox is gored. It does not bother him even if he stands alone.

Nnamani sauntered into the murky waters of Nigerian politics albeit strangely, arguably though against all known political traditions. He entered the game  without a financier or godfather. He had practiced his trade [medicine] successfully as a medical Doctor in the United States of America where he made his fortune that enabled him to venture into politics about 1997/98.

Nnamani was elected Governor in 1999 and his second term in 2003. He did two terms of eight years. As a Governor, he brought new dimensions into politics and indeed governance in the coal city State chief of which was the abolition albeit retirement of the former political godfathers or the old brigade that held sway.  He craved for fresh ideas for the new Enugu State.


Recall that before his emergence, Enugu politics stood on a tripod;  former Governors Senator Jim Nwobodo  was in control of Enugu East, Chief C.C. Onoh  was in charge of Enugu West and the three Nwodos, Dr . Joe Nwodo, Nnia Nwodo and Okwy Nwodo  commanded Enugu North politics.

To drive home his political reform, Nnamani recruited budding  politicians; younger elements as political leaders in Enugu. He empowered them to take charge. He went ahead to establish the Ebeano political family as the unofficial but potent  umbrella body of politics in Enugu state. While the new men on the block [Chi Boys] went about flaunting their elevation and new status, the former godfathers were obviously aggrieved and indeed went offensive against him.

They made his governance in Enugu state turbulent,  a development that compelled him to reinforce his fighting spirit and asserted  authority in order to survive the battle for the soul of the state.

No one was in doubt who was in charge under Nnamani. He  brought intellectualism into governance. His nation-wide Ebeano lecture series where he dissected complex national and international issues of leadership and various aspects of the  economy attested to this.

On infrastructure, Nnamani introduced the idea of housing estates and expanded the frontiers of housing in Enugu state. He opened the road networks especially in the rural areas including the famous Ebeano tunnel in the state capital. He made the health sector centre of excellence and gave Education sector premium attention.

It remains to his credit that the Enugu state university of science and technology [ESUT] moved to its permanent campus in Agbani after his administration built and equipped the institution with the needed facilities. He also completed the university teaching hospital  among others .

On completion of his sojourn as a Governor for eight years, Nnamani was elected into the Senate in 2007.  He was vice chairman senate committee on foreign affairs. On one  particular occasion, he was mandated to present a committee report when the chairman Professor Jubril Aminu delegated him to do so in chamber.

To the amazement of the Senator David Mark led 6th Senate, Nnamani presented the voluminous committee report extempore; without looking at the text. That incident remains a reference point till date in the National Assembly.

He thereafter left the scene albeit into political exile due to irreconcilable differences in Enugu politics at that time. His erstwhile political sons; Governor Sullivan Chime, Senators Ike Ekweremadu, Ayogu Eze and a host of others had taken to a new political alignment in sharp contrast to his.  The option left for him was to quit the scene.

Ironically, those he midwifed to lead the politics of Enugu upon which he ran into the war of attrition with former political helmsmen were the first to do a “ Ben Johnson “, when he had issues with some  authorities over his administration at the time.

However, by a twist of event, Nnamani returned to reckoning in 2019, when the immediate past governor of Enugu state  Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi liberalized the political space which opened the window for him to return to Senate.

In the  2019 Senate, Nnamani was chairman, committee on cooperation and integration in Africa and New partnership for Africa Development[NEPAD]. Under him, the committee took the issue of education for the girl child, women empowerment and liberation as well as campaign for the abolition of harmful cultural practices against women as its cardinal programme. He was an advocate for women rights insisting that “women rights are integral parts  of human rights “.

Nnamani is not a stranger to political conflicts or controversies.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, he again had issues with his political party; the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] especially after the presidential primaries that went against the tide and obviously against the party’s constitution on rotation or zoning of key public offices. It was anticipated that the PDP would give its Presidential slot to the south in line with North/South rotation principle.

Chapter one, sub section [3] [a], [b] & [c] of the PDP constitution prescribes that the party shall pursue its aims and objectives by; [a] ensuring that the programmes of the party, as enshrined in its manifesto, confirm with the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
[b] promoting mutual respect for, and understanding of, the religious and cultural diversity of Nigeria;
[c] adhering to the policy of the rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness among others.

All these, the hierarchy of the party led by Iyorchia Ayu abdicated . The political maneuvering gave the PDP Presidential ticket to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for 2023 polls.

Besides, the party and its presidential candidate  Atiku Abubakar flagrantly failed to reconcile differences with some aggrieved  stakeholders and members before the election. The later result was obvious as the abysmal performance of the PDP at the polls was akin to a disaster foretold.

Frank, blunt and typical of him, Nnamani did not pretend about his disapproval of the outcome of the  PDP  primary as he told the party leadership of the consequences of their actions. He therefore declared  openly his preference for the opposition’s All Progressives Congress {APC] presidential candidate Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

The Iyorchia Ayu led PDP instead of reaching out to aggrieved members to reconcile with them embarked on further annihilation . The party consequently suspended and later expelled Nnamani and others from the party for alleged anti party activities . But he went to court relying on all relevant laws to wit; that party lacked the power to punish him especially when he was not given fair hearing.

Nnamani, through his lawyer Olusegun Jolaowo SAN, told the National Working Committee (NWC) that it has no powers to suspend or expel him from the party.

He said the Iyorchia Ayu led NWC did not follow due process and strict compliance with the Party’s constitution and therefore lacked the powers to suspend or expel him being a member of the National Assembly at that time.

He quoted copiously from the constitution of the party to back his argument and concluded that the action of the NWC was a nullity. According to him, “Article 57(7) not withstanding any other provision relating to discipline, no executive committee at any level, except the National Executive Committee [NEC] shall entertain any question of discipline as may concern a member of the NEC, deputy governors or members of the National Assembly, provided that nothing in this constitution shall preclude or invalidate any complain submitted through the NWC to  NEC concerning any person whatsoever.

“Article 59(3) not withstanding any other provision of this constitution relating to discipline, no executive committee at any level except the NEC shall entertain any question of discipline as may relate or concern a Member of the NEC, President, Vice President, Governor, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Ambassadors, Special Advisers, or members of any of the Legislative Houses.

“It is evident on the basis of articles 57(7)and 59(3) of the PDP constitution that no organ of the party including the NWC has the competence to entertain any question of discipline- against him except the NEC of the party”.

To validate  his points the court having heard from both parties to the dispute found Nnamani’s case credible upon which his suspension and expulsion was quashed.

James Omotoso , the presiding Judge in his ruling held that Nnamani was not given a fair hearing noting that the expulsion did not follow due process.  Citing  article 57 [7] of the PDP’s constitution, the Judge ruled that the power to discipline and expel an  alleged erring party member lies with the NEC  of the party, and not the NWC  which made the decision.

Today (30/05/24), Nnamani is 64. He was born on May 30, 1960 in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.  He can beat his chest that irrespective of political alignments and realignments in Enugu state  since 1999, his Ebeano political family till date  produces successive state governors, Senators, Members of House of Representatives, ministers, state houses of Assembly members, local government chairmen and councilors.

A scholar of international repute in his own right, Nnamani now  a professor of gynecology and obstetrics at ESUT is a specialist in fetus medicine [medicine of the unborn babies].

His philosophy in politics and leadership is to see a one Nigeria where everyone irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation is free to live and ply his or her trade in any part of the country without fear of intimidation or molestation. He craves for a nation of equal rights and opportunities for all.

Nnamani is a  political  strategist and juggernaut whose contributions to the political evolution of Nigeria remains remarkable.

At 64 and counting, his antecedents and accomplishments are noteworthy . His horizon in the nation’s political sphere has positioned him for more exploits in the coming years.

Mumeh wrote from Abuja.