What May Count For Nnamani If He Contests


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What May Count For Nnamani If He Contests For PDP Ticket



Onuoha Ukeh




culled from THE SUN, November 17, 2006


With about one month or thereabouts to the national convention of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and that of other political parties, the contest for the nation’s top job could be said to be getting to the crescendo. Those who have declared their intentions to succeed the incumbent president, General Olusegun Obasanjo, are criss-crossing the nation, visiting traditional rulers and political heavyweights, with the view to selling themselves and their programmes, for probable endorsement. In the PDP, the contest looks fierce, with a legion of aspirants, made up of serving governors, former heads of state and others campaigning vigorously.

Until Monday, political watchers could name politicians and professionals who want to govern the country, going by the intending aspirants’ body language and comments in the polity. However, it seems that more aspirants would join the presidential race despite the fact that the political parties have just about 31 days to submit the names of their candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). An indication to this is the development in Enugu, where groups want ro draft the governor into the race. Indeed, on Monday one of the senators from Enugu State, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, led a group of House of Representatives members from the state to Government House, Enugu to persuade the state governor, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, to join the presidential race. The same day, the leadership of the PDP in the state, led by the chairman, also visited Nnamani to urge him to contest for the country’s presidency. The next day, on Tuesday, the state’s council of traditional rulers made the same request when royal fathers visited the Lion Building, Enugu.

One thing that is central in the request of these groups is their belief that Nnamani has done well as a governor and deserves to step up the ladder to give the nation quality leadership. However, as the pressure mounts on Nnamani to join the fray, at a time people believe that the PDP may have narrowed its choice of presidential candidate to serving governors, the pertinent question is: Will Nnamani succumb to the pressure and present himself to PDP delegates to be chosen, among other presidential aspirants, as the party’s candidate? The question becomes necessary since Governor Nnamani has been in the eye of the storm, as it were, in recent times, especially as the vicious opposition in Enugu State has raked up mud against him. The question is also auspicious as analysts erroneously paint the picture that the South East zone is an outsider in the race for the 2007 presidential race.

While an answer to this question could be said to be a matter of conjecture, one thing that is obvious is that Nnamani has many things going for him, which would help him if he decides to test his popularity with PDP delegates at next month’s national convention. To be sure, Nnamani is qualified to aspire to be president, having surpassed, first and foremost, the minimum educational requirement for the office of president. He is well-schooled and not only qualified as a medical doctor but also a specialist at that. He was trained in the United States, where he also practised. At a time Nigerians wish that the next president should be somebody who had formal university education, to erase the history that none of the country’s leaders ever had formal university education, Nnamani stands tall.
Besides his educational attainment, Nnamani has proved to be intellectually inclined, having, in the last seven and half years he has been in the saddle as Enugu State governor, delivered more than 40 lectures, which were not only deep in information but also incisive.

In these lectures, which dwelt on socio-economic and political developments of the country, Nnamani provoked debates in a number of issues. His lecture on godfather phenomenon in the country’s politics is still being talked about. With the lectures, he stands out as a man who has his own viewpoint on issues and never afraid to take a position when it matters most. His elocution is not in doubt and he has the confidence to address any audience, without being intimidated. With this pedigree, ever wondered what it would be if a Chimaroke Nnamani addresses the United Nations or other equally towering heads of state as president of Nigeria?

If the PDP wants a candidate who has achieved much in a responsibility he occupied to fly its flag, it will look towards Nnamani, who, as the governor, has something to show for his seven and half years of stewardship in Enugu State. No doubt, he is one of the governors, who have engaged in massive infrastructural development in this political dispensation. The ambitious projects he embarked upon stand him out as the man who understands that the foundation for development is infrastructure, which would drive the vision. Between the time he assumed office in 1999 and today, Nnamani built a 164-unit state university (permanent site of Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT); Nigeria Law School, Enugu campus; 18-unit ultra-modern and computerized courtrooms and Chief Judge’s chambers, at the state’s judicial headquarters, Enugu; Ebeano tunnel crossing, with an overhead railway line and underground motorway, which opened up the state by linking the Okpara Avenue area and Ogui Road area of Enugu; ESUT College of Medicine and Teaching Hospital, Enugu; tarred dual-carriage ways within the Enugu metropolis, Agbani-Ozzara axis of the state and other parts of the state; built Ebeano Housing Unit, in the heart of Enugu; Golf Housing Estate, in Enugu; concrete bridges; Enugu State Building, in Abuja, among many others. He also executed rural electrification and water projects in several villages.

Also, Nnamani embarked upon other massive projects, where work has reached 80 per cent completion at present. These include the International Conference Centre (ICC), which has two auditoriums and a hotel; Loma Linda Housing Estate, road projects, among others. When these projects are commissioned before the expiration of his tenure in May 2007, Nnamani would have left a record of not leaving behind any abandoned project. Nnamani said he considered it a duty to cater to the people, in fulfillment of his part of the Social Contract. He has shown commitment to the people’s welfare and his footprints are on the sand of times in Enugu. The structures he has erected stand as monuments of his government. With bigger resources, as president, it therefore follows that Nnamani would build the country’s infrastructure and other things for the development of a modern Nigeria.

Nnamani’s relationship with Obasanjo and leaders of the PDP may count for him if he joins the race. Indeed, the governor has identified with Obasanjo in times of sorrow and joy. Since 1999, he has stood by the president without pretences. His loyalty to Obasanjo and the PDP is not in doubt. He is not ashamed to say that he believes and trusts the president’s judgment and vision. He has always defended Obasanjo’s programmes and actions and appears to share the same vision with him. He had carried the president’s reform vision to Enugu, an action that earned him first position in the benchmarking on SEEDS embarked upon by NPC and international donor agencies.

Nnamani brought his camaraderie with the president to the fore on Wednesday with his daring ad, “The Vision will Never Die,” where he listed Obasanjo’s achievement and showed a picture of the president and himself looking at something in the sky. This bold ad, as unique as it was, brought another dimension to the campaign for the presidency. It showed courage. It showed a man, who is not afraid to be identified with an outgoing president, who is passionate about his legacy. It was an affirmation of Nnamani’s belief that the president has performed well in office. It showed that Nnamani wants to be like Obasanjo, whose footsteps he may have been following.

Apart from the development of the country’s infrastructure, a complex country as Nigeria requires a president who has courage and is decisive. At a time militants are on the rampage in Niger Delta, the country needs a president that could take courageous measures to bring about peace in the region and the country generally. Nnamani does not lack in courage. He takes actions and accepts responsibility for them in whatever difficult situation. Even his worst critics would admit that he is not a push-over. In the last seven and half years, he has fought one of the fiercest political battles in the country, with his opponent employing everything to clubber him. He, however, came out unscathed. With what he has gone through in Enugu, in the hands of the opposition, Nnamani has been tested, in crisis management. As governor, there is no record of him buckling under pressure. Can he then bend under the weight of the country’s complex problems as president? It does seem so. He is a strong character and bold.

However, while Nnamani is consulting widely, to know whether to join the presidential race or not, as he promised those agitating that he joins the race, he should know that time is running out. Anybody who does not formally indicate that he wants to rule the country before the end of next week may just discover that he has no time to make an impression in the minds of those who would play one role or another in picking of presidential candidates of the political parties. If Nnamani is convinced that he is running for president, now is the time for him to sell himself to PDP leaders and members ahead of the party’s December 16, 2006 national convention.


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