By Chinedu Arua.
Chimaroke Nnamani’s new role as official mad man of Nigeria dancing naked on the streets of Abuja has gone beyond the remit of the PDP, or his moribund, crumbled and disgraced ‘Ebeano Family’, or his new- found strange bedfellows in APC. It has become a problem for the entire Igbo race. Not that the Igbo nation is in strict sense obligated in his current pathetic self-inflicted travail. But there is a vicarious side to his saga his kit may not be able to ignore entirely.
When Nnamani lost his seat in the Senate in 2011, he as it were, was railroaded into political limbo. Unavailed the protection of the Big Umbrella by then Governor Sullivan Chime, Nnamani got thoroughly rain-soaked and drenched under the canopy of his new political platform, the PDC. In Governor Sullivan Chime’s first term, Chimaroke maintained a tepid and ineffectual presence in the senate. Throughout Chime’s second term, he remained outside of the orbit of political power.
When therefore in 2015, upon the election and inauguration of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as Governor, some flash of illumination occurred at the end of Chimaroke’s political tunnel. This flash began looking real when it appeared that the relationship between former Governor Sullivan Chime and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was experiencing some stricture. Chimaroke knew that his best opportunity for a come-back was knocking. Having been the incumbent Governor who aided Ugwuanyi’s ticket to the House of Representatives in 2003, he felt that his pay- back moment had arrived. Then, commenced the process of his political rehabilitation.
He became a regular feature in government and party activities, dining with and courting Governor Ugwuanyi every step of the way, awarding him (Ugwuanyi) with the garb of leader of the Ebeano Family, even as the Governor will have nothing to do with that. As this melodrama was playing out in its obvious perfidious reality, not a few party bigwigs felt some discomfiture at this development with so many voicing their discomfort to the Governor. Ultimately, Chimaroke Nnamani was rewarded with the Senatorial ticket, displacing Senator Gil Nnaji.
But Chimaroke Nnamani today is suffering an extraordinary malice of fate. He has become a pariah in his own life time. Few men in history have been this ill-fated. Not only did he proceed to lose his senate seat at the 2023 general elections, he was expelled by the PDP, the party under whose umbrella, he governed Enugu State for two terms and under whose platform he represented Enugu East in the senate for two sessions. His expulsion was as a result of a hopeless gambit in which he cut his nose to spite his face. His was a case of absolute frustration and loss of political relevance in a manner yet to be rivalled in modern recorded history.
Nnamani had an illusion of political grandeur and relevance. He fancied himself as the Jagaban of Enugu politics in furtherance of which he sought to use Ebeano as a canopy. But unbeknown to him, in a manner that betrayed his lack of political sagacity, Ebeano had become a poisoned chalice. This new fate of Ebeano was sealed and consecrated when four of Chimaroke’s companies were convicted in court leading to a plea bargain and scores of forfeiture of properties. It was then a case of Osenobua, the Edo version of the Biblical ‘To your tents O Israel’. To many, his issues of corruption had become untenable and were reason to dissociate themselves from Ebeano. But financial malfeasance was not the only problem with Ebeano. Violence was another issue which just had this uncanny way of being around whenever Chimaroke was on the ticket.
The first to take an audacious and authoritative shot at Ebeano through a cascade of events was Sullivan Chime. Having scant regard for Nnamani, he went straight for his jugular by ensuring that he did not secure the PDP’s ticket to senate in 2011.But Chimaroke thought he had a fighting chance. He registered the People’s Democratic Congress(PDC). Yet to finish with him, Sullivan followed him to PDC, grabbed his manhood, dug his grave and buried him alive politically. He was to conclude his assault on Ebeano by quitting PDP completely for the APC a few years later.
When therefore in 2019, the magnanimous and humane Ugwuanyi exhumed Chimaroke from the shallow grave in which Sullivan buried him, he felt he had completed his quid pro quo until Chimaroke came knocking again with an unusual demand: He wanted the Governor to stream roll him into the vice- presidential race, after the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate. A bewildered Governor Ugwuanyi was reported to have told him that his dalliance with his colleagues which later metamorphosed to the G5 Governors was aimed at ensuring that the PDP produced a presidential candidate of Southern extraction. In effect, they were not interested in the position of vice-president. Ugwuanyi was also not unaware of the frosty relationship between Nnamani and Atiku Abubakar. That relationship dated back to the Obasanjo presidency when Nnamani aligned consistently with Obasanjo in their perennial epic power tango. But those facts didn’t matter to Nnamani, power and its nectar were at play. And since Ugwuanyi’s stock in the PDP had risen to the point that he was at a point the chairman of the Zoning Committee, aiding Nnamani’s vice presidential ambition, was also in Nnamani’s imagination another way of paying him back for giving him (Ugwuanyi)his ticket to the House of Representatives in 2003.Ugwuanyi walked away from that improbable gambit in his characteristic style without making a fuss. That was when Chimaroke got the message-I am done with you and your Ebeano antics.
The reader should now note the chicanery and Nnamani’s later claim that he was aligning with APC because the PDP did not nominate a South- Easterner as its Presidential candidate.
Now, as events towards the state 2023 convention unfolded, everything pointed to the fact that Governor Ugwuanyi had a problem that wouldn’t go away. That problem was Ebeano. Voters in Enugu had severally indicated that for the PDP to win the governorship election, they had to severe links with Ebeano. But even as these issues were rankling PDP rank and file in Enugu, Chimaroke was romanticizing the movement with so much glee. He could be seen in skits and promotional videos celebrating what he considered his best prodigious bequit to Nigeria’s political development. Yet the Ebeano conundrum festered and metastasized in Enugu.
Since it had been the tradition of PDP governors to sway their party towards a governorship candidate, everybody was then waiting for the Governor to announce his choice. In an event that was to break Chimaroke’s heart to smithereens, and put a final lead to his Ebeano pretentions, Governor Ugwuanyi gave the role of announcing the preferred candidate to Jim Nwobodo. Moving this momentous event from the Ebeano maleficence was the only way of convincing the voters that the PDP in Enugu State had no link with Chimaroke and his Ebeano.
Then enter Peter Mbah.
Peter Mbah had the fortune or misfortune of serving Chimaroke Nnamani as Chief of Staff, and later as Commissioner for Finance in the early and mid-2000. Emerging as the Governorship candidate of PDP in Enugu State presented him with a problem that was almost as difficult as defeating his opponents- how to navigate Chimaroke Nnamani and his Ebeano. Peter Mbah was able to withstand the political Tsunami unleashed by the Labour Party because he laid out one of the most elaborate political manifestos in the history of politics in Enugu State. In a manner that did not suggest that he had the backing of the incumbent government, he embarked on the most aggressive visual onslaught throughout the length and breadth of the state.
For the voters, if Mbah’s ubiquitous banners and posters did not reach them, his fliers and jingles on radio and television will on a campaign that saw him through all the Development Centres in Enugu State. In an unprecedented move, he engaged also interest groups in town hall meetings, spanning disciplines-education, health, industry, law,technology, Information Technology, medicine etc. Indeed, even his enemies will concede that he ran the most modern, comprehensive and all-embracing campaign in the political history of Enugu State. He therefore did not need Chimaroke and his Ebeano.
Drawing from his outsider orientation as a business man, he had to take the cold decision of severing links with Chimaroke Nnamani. It was so dexterously done that a bewildered Nnamani in his tweet storm admitted that reconciling that reality was the greatest part of his current political travail.
But that was not to be the worst of his political travail. Being booed as a thief in the streets of Coal Camp in Enugu during the elections should approximate to it. It was so dramatic in impact such that even a choreographed version of the event could not be more pointedly telling. Disgraced and bruised, humiliated and cowed, Nnamani with his tail between his legs ran back to Abuja. Unable to determine what to do with his intolerable selfhood, he grabbed his tweeter handle. Since then, he has been firing.
Turning to Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in a show that spoke to his utter humiliation, his first reaction was to praise Peter Obi for his prowess in foisting and sustaining such a humongous political platform like the Obidient Movement. Even his own imagination of himself as a national political figure which he pursued with great vigour and commitment in his lecture blitz in early 2000 under the platform of Ebeano was a pathetically poor outing in comparison. Gazing like a Liliput at the imposing stature of Obi really got him astounded.
Then in a dramatic volte face, still with twitter, Chimaroke berated Obi for setting back the Igbo political trajectory for decades, (whatever that means) asking him to withdraw his petition at the Election tribunal to enable real Igbo leaders negotiate the political fortune of the Igbos. Where on earth does a discredited politician like himself lead the pathway of his people as against Obi who has emerged as an authentic leader of men and women across the Federation. Obi is no fluke, his prowess over established and time-honoured political interests in Lagos and Abuja, the two major cosmopolitan centres in Nigeria hold him out as an emerging political force in Nigeria. So whereas Obi is commanding the loyalty of Nigerians, Nnamani is myopically trying to micro locate him within the confines of the Igbo space.
Next, Chimaroke turned to Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, the Igbo socio-cultural organization. In his selfish aim of pandering to Bola Tinubu, he has gone to all lengths to warm up to the APC leader with the sole aim of positioning himself for political crumbs. For this, he was prepared to collide with his party’s leadership which had to expel him. In asking for the dissolution of Ohaneze and its replacement with an academic institute, he betrayed his lack of political depth. No socio-cultural organization in Nigeria can be said to have reached its optimum potential because of politics. So the verdict is that Ohaneze has been as effectual as it can be.
There have always been this unintellectual and deeply flawed argument against such organisations as the United Nations, and even the Church. Against the United Nations, some have argued that even in spite of its existence, the world is riddled with conflicts and strife. But what these dullards have not asked is what the world would have looked like without the UN. Indeed, without the UN, there would have been no world as we know it today. Those who have also misguidedly argued against the Church are of the shallow opinion that with all that the Church represents, sin still pervades the world. But imagine a world without the Church? It will be unspeakably unimaginable. Sodom and Gomora would have looked like child’s play.
Returning to Ohaneze or the Igbo nation, it is time to bring Chimaroke home. Every man has kith and kin. Those who cannot lose should not be allowed to win because extreme tendencies breed unsavory consequences. The time for action is now.