By Josef-Ken Onoh

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
….. Theodore Roosevelt

Mr. Peter Obi is currently on the air. Even if he doesn’t win the Presidential election, he has won the hearts and hopes of Nigerians, particularly those not held to the cleavages of the past. Obi has inspired a new generation of Nigerian youths who have now realized the need to rise up and build a better Nigeria.

Social media interaction created the national movement and for the first time Nigeria youths and beyond have mobilized and matched in their thousands to obtain their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC). It wasn’t achieved by multiple failed public holidays declared by various state governors for their indigenes and residents to obtain their PVCs; rather it was achieved by a new generation of Nigerian youths who history will forever remember as ‘OBIdient’ to my fellow politicians.

There is an impending danger ahead of us if we fail to deliver an accountable government come 2023. With the present revolutionary tide, a great young generation of Nigerians have emerged and have shown interests in politics. They will not tolerate any electoral fraud come 2023, particularly if it will be orchestrated by the same set of old politicians. I can bet that come 2027 Nigeria will embrace a shock and radical change in the political sphere beyond their imagination; because this young generation will revolt against any betrayal such as the young people like me in politics have experienced in our present adventures.

Arising from my last voyage aspiring to become Governor of Enugu state, I rediscovered Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, who in 2003 commenced promotion of youth political empowerment which ushered a young set of politicians in various electoral positions. I, for example, was elected as one of the youngest members of the state House of Assembly in Nigeria, courtesy of Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. There were others like me who Chimaroke Nnamani also produced to become young Ambassadors, Ministers, Members House of Representatives, Local government council chairmen and lots more. This was a youth empowerment strategy at the very return to Nigeria democracy 23 years ago. I am not sure there is still such a governance philosophy in the present time which has made some to ask if ‘blind loyalty’ actually pays.

It is this youth-driven vacuum in politics that Mr. Peter Obi has leveraged on, preaches about and which has brought him to the present limelight. But it was there when Chimaroke Nnamani was Governor, as a young man too, and which the PDP failed to interpret before its choice of Vice Presidential candidate and which has remained as an albatross to the party.

Since the choice of HE Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Chimaroke Nnamani has remained conscious in the words of Theodore Roosevelt indicating that integrity isn’t achieved by money or status but by principle.

The precedence of arrogating so much power, influence and authority on the incumbent governors was aided by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar when he wanted to contest against President Olusegun Obansanjo in the 2003 elections. Then, Atiku encouraged the Governors to form the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), just like he encouraged the formation of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and with these bodies, Atiku was ready to pull the rug off the feet of Obasanjo until the Baba prostrated, before he had a sail for his second term in the 2003 presidential election.

Twenty years after, the Governors have remained a powerful political cult in Nigeria that no one can do anything, I mean any political arrangement, without the Governors deciding who would become what in Nigeria. Even the Nigeria President is not as powerful as the Governors Forum, and clearly there have been some negative aspects of this Governor-centered power system. One of the demerits of the governors’ monopoly of power was played out in the just concluded presidential primary elections, both in the PDP and in the All Progressives Congress (APC), but the governors permeated further to ensure that they produced one of their own as the Vice presidential candidate of the PDP against what the Southern Governors had said that the Southern Nigeria should produce the President other than any other thing.

His Excellency Dr Ifeanyi Okowa is no doubt a fine gentleman by most standards and merits whatever office that he aspires for, particularly with his pedigree in politics, governance and in intellect and I am okay with him, but there is a brain that the PDP and Nigeria would have harvested in its search for the vice Presidential candidate of the PDP, he is Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. In most ways, both Okowa and Nnamani have similarities, such as in their primary occupation as medical Doctors, experiences in Governorship and in the legislature. The two are just like Siamese twins, but the PDP, Ndigbo and the greater Nigeria will miss Chimaroke Nnamani’s lost vice presidential bid.

Chimaroke Nnamani is that quintessential statesman that uses projected views to resolve immediate and long term impediments. His intellectual acumen goes beyond rhetoric to practical application of best strategies for human capital developments. His insight is far ahead and his projections metaphorical. It’s difficult to fault Chimaroke’s applied strategy both in politics and in governance. A few examples will suffice. A highly cerebral Nnamani introduced ‘Democracy Dividends’ into the Nigeria political lexicon in 1999 when most states in Nigeria were battling to have a foot in governance. For eight years as Governor of Enugu state Nnamani showed presence in infrastructural developments such as his remodel of Enugu State University Teaching Hospital and College of Medicine, Parklane, Enugu and went ahead to construct a new permanent site for the state university, ESUT. As if that was not enough, he built the Enugu campus of Nigeria Law School and handed it over to the Nigeria Legal Education Council.

Chimaroke Nnamani gave the Eastern Nigeria Capital a befitting Judiciary complex that has been unequaled by any present day Judiciary complex, provided several roads infrastructure, the Enugu Liaison edifice in Abuja, ensured that government employees did not go on strike in his eight years administration. In the Senate, he exhibits charm each time he makes a presentation. His defense for the rights of women and children are referrals in the National Assembly.

With his Ebeano structure, Chimaroke Nnamani is the only politican in the Southern Nigeria who has a political structure in the form and like of the political structure of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Indeed, Chimaroke Nnamani is an opportunity the south east missed to produce yet another Vice President that has been groomed to compliment the jobs of Mr. President and an already made Presidential material.

In failing to support Nnamani for the vice presidential bid, Ndigbo lost a core technocrat, an intellectual politician and a humanist who would have been a better ambassador for national unification. Nnamani’s loss for the bid was not personal to him but a collective loss of the south east. Even the Ohanaeze Ndigbo that had risen against a second fiddle was forced to support Ifeanyi Okowa when the chips were down and in realization that they had played a loose game.

There is no doubt that Okowa is proudly Igbo who has done creditably well in governance of Delta state, raising the bar in Asaba Capital Territory Development and other forms of compound development of Delta state, but the stake Ohanaeze had insisted was in the south east quest for inclusion in the Nigeria project which is where Nnamani fitted better for advocacy and good representation. The loss of Chimaroke Nnamani was a loss for the PDP Governors, the Ohanaeze and the entire people of the South East who would have had one of their own in the Aso Rock villa. As it stands, the South East has got no meaningful bargain and the year 2023 may turn out to be the only era that the south east would be completely excluded from the Nigeria center stage beyond their present complaints on the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari.

Even at our complaints, President Mohammadu Buhari administration has been able to service Ndigbo with critical infrastructure such as the second Nigeria bridge, the Enugu-Ontisha, Enugu-Port Harcourt roads reconstruction. Buhari ensured that Akanu Ibiam International airport became better than he met it, yet we complain about Buhari. I therefore do not weep for Chimaroke Nnamani, but for the south east who contributed towards their own loss in the PDP and may have to look forward for alternative emancipation.

Dr. Josef-Ken Umunnakwe Onoh was a 2022 PDP governorship aspirant in Enugu state

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