KWENU: Our Culture, Our Future
On Nnamani vs. Nnamani (2)
M. O. ENÉ
New Jersey, USA
Friday, October 21, 2005
FROM ENUGU TO ABUJA
On Friday, October 7, 2005, we read a piece by Ben Agande titled “Reps want Nnamani sanctioned over attack on OBJ.” He revealed that “seven members of the House of Representatives, led by the deputy House leader, Hon. Gil. Nnaji, said the statement made by the president of the senate on a Radio Nigeria phone-in program to the effect that the president's war against corruption was “insincere”' does not represent the views of the people of the state and tendered unreserved apology to the president.” Ah ha, the word “insincere” has suddenly become Senator Nnamani’s -- no longer a Champion caption! Even the Vanguard in a later report after the storm had ebbed would publish that Senator Nnamani described “the Obasanjo campaign against corruption as a failure”! [See Vanguard of October 14, 2005.]
It was now coming close to the Abuja turf of Senator Nnamani. Unfortunately, where a studied response would have been preferred, the senate president went out with big bazookas blazing. His press secretary Tunde Asaju wrote:
“It is obvious that they are dancing to the drums of some unseen musicians who are hell bent on creating a state of anarchy between the executive and the legislative arms or those who want to create chaos within the party in Enugu state for their own selfish ends. :::: It is foolhardy for a legislature to pass a law authorizing the establishment of something it does not believe in and only military apologists can ever make such assumptions.”
MEDIATING THE MÊLÉE: THE ABUJA ACCORD II
Reading between the lines, you will know that the senate president is shadowboxing the governor of his state, even though the governor has not uttered a word in the ongoing hullabaloo. Okay, these are the governor’s loyalists stroking the fire, and he is definitely the master musician of the “unseen musicians” referred to in the senator’s simile. The presidency read the lines correctly and invited the Governor to yet another parley with Senator. Once again, the President himself -- who is supposed to be the bereaved in this matter -- became the mediator between the supposed murderer of his sleep and the musical mourners of the alleged murder of his sleep.
In Vanguard of October 14, “Obasanjo reconciles Nnamani, Senators” by Emmanuel Aziken, we read: “The President reportedly brokered a truce between the Senate President and his state governor Wednesday night in a late night meeting that ended yesterday morning at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja” in the presence of Chief Tony Anenih, the chairman of PDP Board of Trustees, who had earlier exonerated Senator Nnamani of antiparty activities. “To concretize the peace rapprochement, Governor Nnamani (no relation of the Senate President) is to host the Senate President to a lunch in Enugu today which is also expected to have Chief Anenih as a special guest. Senator Nnamani is to reciprocate the gesture by hosting the Governor to a lunch or dinner next week.”
Don’t you just love Nigerian politics! But wait, didn’t President Obasanjo have dinner with Senate President Chuba Okadigbo before the senator’s cup overflowed? Didn’t the President enjoy pounded yam and finger-licking egusi soup at Chief Audu Ogbe’s house before the ex-party chairman’s cup overflowed? Joint eating, which is usually preceded by kolanut communion, no longer means what is cracked out to be: a communion of two, a renaissance or new-start sacrament of sorts designed to consign bygones to dark recesses of the mind from whence retrieval is almost impossible.
No one knows how this latest accord is going to play out but, one thing is certain: it won’t last. Already, Senator Nnamani is out swinging again. By firing a query to his colleague and fellow Enuguite, Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West), he is telling the Ebeano Group that he is not done. What the senator should do is to play the bigger brother and let relaxing dogs sleep out the night’s hunt. For some reason, the senate president is bent on being the top dog, snarling where silence is golden and shadowboxing when dialogue is due. If that is the case, this much we can take to the bank: The governor is not going to lie low and sleep. In Governor Nnamani’s estimation, a senate president is simply an honorary headship of a college of lawmakers. This means that Senator Nnamani, senate president or not, still represents just a third of the governor’s turf. And it so happens to be the Governor Nnamani’s senatorial zone -- in his incumbent gubernatorial domain.
Since the nature of Enugu politics presently abhors overcrowding, there is room only for one big shot, the Mr. Big Stuff. The right or wrong of the situation is beyond the scope of this presentation. Suffice it to say that the quality of opposition, or almost total lack of it, did not just happen: It was a result of sheer selfishness and political pomposity on the part of many Enugu elite politicians on one hand, and the political prudence and flawless foresightedness of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani on the other.
Some insiders expect the dinners, if either pans out, to be the last supper. From here on, it is either the senate president backs off completely and completes his term in relative peace, or the governor might strike back with a ruthless undercurrent efficiency that might see a change of guards. As things stand, the senate president is not too popular with his colleagues. The sallah rice scandal brought to the fore some simmering and residual resentments from his colleagues. In addition, with the president saving his burning buns twice, the senate president might be perceived as being compromised and weak. Any little push or unexpected scandal might tip him off the precipice and down the slippery slope on yet another ride on the banana peel; let no one attempt to tell Senator Nnamani otherwise.
We won’t like his downfall, neither do we want it, but no one said life is about what we like or want.
THE CASE AGAINST KEN NNAMANI
Senate President Ken Nnamani is not a good student of history; or he would have known that politics is not about right or wrong: It is about using what we have to get what we want. It is about playing the power game to stay relevant -- if not on top. What does the senate president achieve by constantly subduing his person, position, and power to the presidency? He is supposed to be the head of the legislature, an independent body with powers to check-and-balance the presidency. Now he is known not to be of Senator Anyim's mold that presented a surprisingly strong stand at times. By fighting his governor and kinsman, he weakens his base and plays into the hands of the executive and his detractors in the Senate. With the elections of 2007 coming closer, and knowing Nigerian politics, strange alliances could form; and, eventually, the senate president could find himself holding a pauper’s pot of porridge and standing alone.
Senator Nnamani could easily stand clear of rolling stones by maintaining a semblance of unity with his base and preserving the Abuja Accord II. If he had paid the Governor a visit upon his return, a simple drive-in to the Government House to say thank-you for coming to the Senate, we would not have heard of the comments on corruption. It takes just little things to reassure our people, a phone call now and then also works wonders. The ungraceful, fight-to-finish politics helps no one, and badmouthing each other only diminishes those who step into the sty. If Senator Nnamani offers that he would not openly castigate the president's policies because he is a part of the ruling party, PDP, why would he turn around and criticize the number-one citizen of his state and the leader of PDP in the state?
Okay, so he serves out his term or he is removed, what then? What would Senator Nnamani show for his ascendancy to the pinnacle of legislature? If in six months the only thing he could show is a form-full of fraternal fracas with the governor of his state, then we have a big problem with Abuja politicians. He is a man whose akanchawa came unexpectedly; here is a man who has a lot of lesson notes to learn from. And what do we get? Now you know why some prefer to be teetotalers than to drink and challenge freight trains. So beware of hat you wish for your state or community!
The Right Honorable Senator Ken Nnamani has reached the highest position in Nigeria ever by an Enugu politician. He should use it to strengthen his Igbo base, not just his power base. He has made history. He has only a few months to deliver something to Enugu State and to the Igbo nation. Time is of the essence; he cannot afford to waste it on unnecessary power tussle with Governor Nnamani. He is bringing the distractions on himself; and, eventually, they shall constitute no excuse for failing to deliver on or influence the internationalization of Akanu Ibiam Airport, the Onitsha-Owerri Road, the Obuaka City project, the creation of Adaada and or Etiti State, the Oji power station (probably using the Ugwuoba condensates) the dualization of 9th Mile-Opi (Nsukka)-Obolo Afo-Oturkpo-Markurdi road, the Enugu-Abakiliki Expressway, the second River Niger Bridge, erosion control, etc.
THE CASE AGAINST CHIMAROKE NNAMANI
Now, don’t think Governor Chimaroke Nnamani is blameless. No one is a saint. The fact is that the man has a political structure to protect. He believes, and rightly so, that it was his structure that produced the senator. Rightly or wrongly, no one should expect him to roll over and hand over the headship of the household. Unless a similar structure of comparative strength is produced, the power of senate presidency cannot sideline or subdue the governor, not in Obasanjo’s Nigeria. No power in national PDP will help Senator Nnamani to oust Governor Nnamani. Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is one foot out of the door... unless the unimaginable happens. Chief Tony Anenih could not even contain the “Okada Prince,” Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State, and PDP Chairman Dr. Ahmadu Ali is the president’s plant and an ex-colonel in an army that Obasanjo was a general and is the commander-in-chief.
It is not easy to find faults with Chimaroke Nnamani on this score. One could argue that he should have played it more softly and be a younger brother. Or, as I had told him, he could reach out to some eager elements sidelined by the outcome of 2003 campaigns. Yes, he could have and should have, but this is politics. Power gives a huge high. Besides, it is only a tree that stands in the face of a roaring chainsaw. Governor Nnamani is nobody’s fool; he would be big one if he stood by and allowed the obscure Onwa Group (populated by his 2003 political opponents and acolytes of ex-godfather Governor? Senator Jim Nwobodo) to eclipse his Ebeano Group. That's the bottom-line. So, it is either Senator Nnamani mainstreams the party faithful looking up to his leadership and forgets about "authentic PDP" or aluta continua!
It is hard to forecast how this power play would be resolved, but I see how the senate president can easily lose before the fight gets to the fourth round. With the third-term masquerading coming down the pike and with the Obasanjo-Atiku affair threatening to blow up again, a single-minded senate faction might just find him too soft on the presidency to lead the Senate into 2007. If that happens, he won’t find much support in his state and the president might just let him cook. Even if nothing happens to his position and he sails through the tsunamis of tussles in the coming months, inside PDP I don’t see how the senator can beat the governor at this game and at this time.
At this rate, something tells me that Senator Ken Nnamani won’t make it to the end of the show. I pray to be wrong. Something tells me that the turn-by-turn, musical-chair change might just throw up someone else. If that happens, common sense and law of equity demands that first-time but seasoned Senator Ike Ekweremadu, an attorney and experienced administrator, should step in and complete the task… third-time lucky. [He lost to Wabara in 2003 and to Nnamani in 2005] Last to come, first to go is the mantra in labor industry: Enugu came last; it should start the next round! Besides, Senator Ekweremadu could be the first senator from the proposed Etiti State to occupy the position. And the turn shall be completed!
Unfortunately, I fear that the mighty Man of Aso Rock will not take any more chances with senate presidents that outgrow their shoes; he would rather find someone that would be completely compromised. Wabara-like? Oh yes, but someone who is more compromised than Senator Adolphus Wabara -- who went from a clear election defeat to lead the senate. Oh no, I don’t mean former Osun State deputy governor, Otunba Iyiola Omisore --who went from being in jail for alleged complicity in the murder of Federal Attorney-General Bola Ige to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria! I suspect that Baba Iyabo (the president) will quietly plot and plant a 100% compliant chief of lawmakers, someone with a direct line to his kitchen cabinet, someone who was there to hear Nnamani’s “sacred cow” sermon on Radio Link program on FRCN, and someone who is covered by the blood of ever-loyal and “dobale”-able Godfather Chris Uba. Oh, so you know now: Senator Ugochukwu Uba (Anambra South), the only surviving senator who didn’t win, campaign, nor was a candidate in the 2003 elections.
Now you know why I love Nigeria, a state where strange situations are standard!
© MOE, 2005
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