Chimaroke Nnamani: Lest we forget
By Paul Mumeh
Senator Chimaroke Ogbonnaya Nnamani was governor of Enugu State between 1999 and 2007. He is medical doctor; a feotal surgeon with sub-specialty in maternal and infant health.
As early as 1999, Senator Nnamani stamped his authority on the political landscape of the Coal City State as a man who came prepared with a blueprint for the job at hand. He first demonstrated his intellectual prowess when he coined the phrase “dividends of democracy”. That phrase resonated across the country. To him, provision of basic social amenities, infrastructure and human capital development are dividends of democracy – Dividends for the peoples’ investment in democracy, especially via their votes.
Senator Nnamani went further to initiate what is now popularly known as Ebeano lecture series in which he dissected local and international issues and suggested solutions. The Ebeano thus became a movement and a phenomenon that took control of the politics of Enugu State. It became so successful that Ebeano does not only dictate the pace of politics of Enugu State, it actually rules.
For the avoidance of the doubt, Ebeano political family has continued to dominate and produce successive state governors, senators, members of the National Assembly, ministers , members of State House of Assembly, local government chairmen and councilors since 1999. In fact, Ebeano is synonymous with politics in Enugu State.
At the risk of sounding immodest, Senator Nnamani redefined politics in Enugu with the Ebeano phenomenon.
However, his strategy to recruit the buddying politicians into the helm of affairs and change the political narrative became counter-productive as his lieutenants turned their backs against him shortly after he left office. But by another twist of events, opportunity came his way in 2019 when he returned to political reckoning as a Senator representing Enugu East.
However, history will be kind to Senator Nnamani as a man who brought intellectualism into governance and changed the political narrative in Enugu state.
To his credit, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) moved to its permanent site built by his administration, constructed 164 buildings at the new ESUT permanent site, the Teaching Hospital at the old site of Parklane Hospital, three district hospitals and 24 cottage hospitals in all the local government areas. He also built the Enugu campus of Nigerian Law School at Agbani.
Under his administration, he established the Airforce Comprehensive School, Agbani, awarded scholarship to indigenes of Enugu State, established the State College of Education (Technical), Enugu, introduced the School Meal Plus programme and created development centres as well as autonomous communities in Enugu State.
To curtail the security challenges, Senator Nnamani championed community policing and established the neighborhood watch to complement the conventional security agencies.
To address perennial water crisis in Enugu State, Senator Nnamani built major water schemes in Nkwere Nyi, Olido, Ozalla Ezimo and Amodu as well as electrified more than 130 rural communities across the state.
He placed priority attention on housing projects when he built modern estates, including but not limited to Ebeano, Golf, Loma Linda, Permanent Secretaries Quarters in Enugu, the Enugu State Building in Abuja, international conference centre, Enugu, new State judiciary headquarters complex, facilitated the establishment of the automated Ama Breweries at 9th Mile as well as the New Haven market in Enugu.
He expanded the network of roads in the state during his tenure with the construction of Opi-Nsukka, Agwu-Ndeabor, Ozalla-Agbani- Akpugo-Amagunze, Obollo Afor- Uda-Ogurutte, Agbani-Ugbawka- Nara, Oji- Achi, Oji express link road, Udi urban, dualization of Rangers Avenue, Enugu and dualization of Chime Avenue, Enugu, among others .
Senator Nnamani expanded the Nsukka, Enugu South and Enugu North urban roads which were given face lifts. Such urban roads included Ibeagwa township road – Odenigbo – Ikenga- Ogurugu and University of Nigeria Nsukka roundabout.
Others included Robinson – Bishop Ayogu- Adelabu- Amawbia and Nise street and Agu – Ozalla – Nnaji Ogbodo and Afikpo and Nnaji Nwede road. He also constructed the new market- Kingsway – Mgbemena – Nkpogiti roads as well as Oguago – Obinagu, Igwe Edward Nnaji road Abakpa Nike, Enugu.
He introduced community policing reform in partnership with Nigeria Police Force and the DFID, local government reforms and got uncommon endorsement by the European Union Ambassadors.
In the Senate, Senator Nnamani has remained the voice for the voiceless. He speaks for the ordinary man. Till date, Senator Nnamani is the only senator who opposed the social media prohibition bill and continued to defend the rights of women and children.
To lend credence to the advocacy for the rights and education of the girl child, he paid the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) fees for all the female students in public schools in his constituency in 2020.
Unarguably, Senator Nnamani has a special place in political evolution of Enugu State, nay Nigeria, for his contributions to the development of the society.