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Enugu: The return of Nnamani’s Ebeano political dynasty

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Enugu: The return of Nnamani’s Ebeano political dynasty

KENNETH OFOMA writes on the return of the Ebeano political dynasty in Enugu State with the emergence of former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial candidate for Enugu East

 

Politics, they say is dynamic, with all the attributes of a quick sand. It is a game of who gets what, when and how. The same person who might be rejected by all yesterday may today be the darling of all, depending on changing circumstances. Somebody rejected in a particular political party four years ago, may be wooed by the same party four years after.

The case of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is just one example. That of former governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, is another, and indeed subject of discussion.

 

Nnamani is currently the rave of the moment in Enugu state. The two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP fought very hard to get him. PDP finally won at the nick of time.

 

To demonstrate how attractive he had become as a “beautiful bride”, both PDP and APC bought senatorial nomination forms for him in their respective parties. He was even in far away United States of America cooling off as both parties bought and sent the forms to him to fill and return same through emissaries.

 

And for him to accept to fill PDP form he even gave them conditions, which they gladly accepted. One of the conditions is that he will not spend his money either buying the form or campaigning for primaries and main election when the time comes. The second is that some of the House of Representatives seats under his senatorial district, Enugu East, be conceded to his allies and members of his political machinery, Ebeano (a slogan for “where it is happening or where everybody is”), who have for long been in political hibernation like himself. All conditions met, he now completed the PDP form in far away USA, sent it back through a “special envoy”.

 

And true to the spirit of the agreement, the former governor of Enugu State picked the senatorial ticket of Enugu East, defeating the incumbent, Senator Gilbert Nnaji with a wide margin. And guess what? Nnamani was not even in the country on the day of the primaries. But he was delivered.

 

As a matter of fact, Senator Nnaji entered the race against all pleadings from the powers that be in the state not to do so. They explained to him why allowing Nnamani to go for the party was more strategic. The main reason being that with the entrance of Senator Ayogu Eze (who hails from Enugu North senatorial district like the governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) into APC and was being packaged to fly the governorship ticket of APC in the state, it would be suicidal to allow Nnamani to also defect to APC.

 

Eze is a product of Ebeano political dynasty, which was decimated by former governor, Sullivan Chime. And allowing Nnamani and Eze to run under APC, in addition to federal might, would spell doom for PDP in the 2019 general elections.

 

Nnamani is adjudged very popular in the state, but more so in his senatorial district, Enugu East. In fact many believe that he actually won the senatorial election in 2015, but being that he contested under his former party, People for Democratic Change (PDC), the ruling party then, PDP, used federal might to snatch it from him. Thus, allowing him to defect to APC at the same time as Senator Eze would mean bringing all the remnants of Ebeano political structure under APC and posing a serious threat to PDP in the state.

 

According to those in the know, all these were explained to Senator Nnaji for him to voluntarily concede the ticket to Nnamani but he refused. It took the whole of PDP and government apparatchik in the state to humiliate Nnaji on the day of primaries, October 2, by ensuring that Nnamani defeated him in absentia.

 

At the end of the senatorial primaries, which took place at Agbani, Engr. Okechukwu Igbonekwu the returning officer formally declared the winner as Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani with a total of 601 votes while Mr. Chinedu Nneji came second with 84 votes; Nnaji 59, Lawrence Eze 25, Agu Gab Agu 8, Mbah Joshua 8, David Nkwo Ngene 4, while 8 invalid votes were recorded.

The incumbent Senator Nnaji started as a local government chairman before going to the House of Representatives and later Senate, where he is doing his second term. He narrowly went back to the Senate in 2015, riding on the back of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu to defeat former Governor Nnamani, who contested under the platform of PDC.

 

Due to political dynamics, Nnaji could not leverage again on Ekweremadu to win the ticket of PDP. But the Nnajis were compensated as his half brother and former chairman of Enugu East Local Government Area, Cornelius Nnaji won the primary ticket of Enugu East/Isi-Uzo federal constituency.

 

Other House of Representatives constituencies in the senatorial district were won by Nnamani’s acolytes and members of Ebeano.

 

For instance, Nnoli Nnaji defeated incumbent, Chukwuemeka Ujam to clinch the ticket of Nkanu West/Nkanu East federal constituency; Offor Chukwuegbo defeated incumbent, Chima Oji to grab Enugu North/Enugu South federal constituency ticket.

 

Nnamani became the governor of Enugu State in 1999 at the return to democratic rule. He was a returnee American based medical doctor. Many people, prominent among them being the former Governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo, assisted him into office.
But shortly after assuming office, Nnamani quarreled with Nwobodo. They had irreconcilable differences that resulted to bitter political “wars”.

Nwobodo went to the Senate, to represent Enugu East in 1999. And in 2003, Nnamani stopped him from going for second term and assisted Senator Ken Nnamani to take his place. Chimaroke Nnamani won his second term as well and by the end of his second term in 2007, he had built formidable political machinery, Ebeano, which saw him to the Senate, replacing Ken Nnamani. The structure also produced Senator Ekeremadu and all other National and State Assembly positions. But the prize position was Governor Sullivan Chime as a successor.

 

However, exactly what happened between Nnamani and Nwobodo in 2003, happened between Chime and Nnamani in 2011. Immediately after he assumed office in 2007, Chime had bitter political disagreement with his predecessor Nnamani. By 2011, Chime stopped Nnamani from returning to the Senate and replaced him with Gill Nnaji.

 

Today Sullivan Chime is in APC. He defected to APC shortly after producing current Governor Ugwuanyi as successor in 2015. Though there was no definable point of departure between Chime and Ugwuanyi, analysts believe that Chime defected to APC due to the overwhelming influence of Ekweremadu in the state.

 

By the way, Chime had bitter struggle with Ekweremadu over Enugu West senatorial ticket in 2015, but Ekweremadu had the advantage because of his closeness to PDP leaders and then President Goodluck Jonathan.

 

With the masterstroke played by PDP in delivering Enugu East senatorial ticket to Nnamani, the threat of APC in the state ahead of 2019 general elections may have been greatly reduced.

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