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The Nwobodos, Nwodos, Nnamanis, Chimes, Ezeas and The Politics of Enugu State

By: Chris Onyishi
 Published April 10th, 2011

I never knew Chimaroke Nnamani until Chief Nwobodo - the father of Enugu politics as he regards or regarded himself - introduced him to Enugu politics in the build up to the 1999 election.  Even though the circumstances that produced Chimaroke as the governor of Enugu state was not a very clean one,  I became less concerned about it when within a few months into his first term Dr. Nnamani had quarreled with Nwobodo. 

The PDP primarys was held and Enugu people elected one Prince Agu - an estate manager - as their flag bearer for the governorship position in the then forth coming 1999 election. Chief Nwobodo had used his connection with Chief. Solomon Lar who was then the Chairman of PDP to thwart the choice of the people.   Chief Nwobodo was one of three governors of the then NPP. Chief Lar and Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe are the other two. So that was the link that Chief Nwobodo employed to foist Chimaroke over Enugu state then.  Prince Agu was introduced or backed by the Nwodos then.  And this melodrama was one of such several political lock jams between the Nwodos and Nwobodos in Enugu politics.

Prince Agu – a very nice, down to earth and humble being - was later to be rewarded with a chummy position in Nigerian Ports Authority where I did benefit from him because he helped me to get paid in a job NPA had owed me for over twenty three months.  Unfortunately, I have not been in contact with him since after the payment to date, if nothing else, so as to thank him for his help.  He was traveling abroad then and I lost my phone where I had his phone number.

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I was impressed because I had all my life condemned Nigeria’s form of godfatherism in politics where the godfather tries to choke up his godson with excessive demands and in the process leaves the electorate short changed in terms of meaningful development.  So, it was a welcome development for me that a young medical doctor who practiced in USA has - broke the jinx and - severed himself from a political godfather who had, within a short time in the life of the administration, imposed three most sensitive jobs of government - deputy governor, finance and SSG - on this young man.

I became suspicious - and my enthusiasm turned anxiety - when within some couple of months Governor Chimaroke sacked his own uncle who helped his administration stabilize when he severed relationship with Chief Nwobodo ; his political godfather.  As I said earlier I had never heard of Chimaroke Nnamani before his erstwhile godfather introduced him to the politics of Enugu state.

In the same vein, I never knew Sullivan Chime, neither did I know that he served under Chimaroke Nnamani’s administration.  My first knowledge of him was a few weeks before his election or selection - as the case may be.   Till date I have not had any contact with him - direct or indirect.

I was travelling to Enugu from Lagos and when I got to Ugwuorba - a boarder town between Enugu and Anambra states - I started seeing large posters with a calm and composed face reading “Sullivan Chime”.  When I enquired, I was told that he was a lawyer who was then governor Chimaroke’s Justice Commissioner.  I was also told that he had the blessing of governor Chimaroke to run.  This irked me so much that I thundered, “what on earth can someone who had been in that administration do for Enugu State”.  Oh well, I said to myself that if there was not going to be a selection, then it was left for the electorate to decide.

After the (s)election of 2007 and Mr. Chime was said to have been (s)elected, I was not boarded, not because I approved of the circumstances but much because I had no control.  I just resigned to faith and grumbled that this state of mine is going to be stagnant for another four years, initially, and possibly another four years – since nobody ever gets contented with one term.

My opinion of Barrister Chime started changing two weeks after the so called election or selection.  For the first time he made a statement that tickled me.  I read in one of the national dailies where he was quoted as saying that the revision of voters register was wasteful venture and would not have been necessary if Nigeria had pushed through a genuine national ID card scheme.  I finally got hooked when he declared that Enugu state was not really working, a sharp contrast to the “EBEANO” slogan that Enugu was working.  those comments credited to him made a lot of sense to me and I started having this instinct to meet him in person because I felt that any politician who made such comments should be associated with because he could be influenced and accommodative when he hears beautiful ideas.

I felt that he was a genuine democrat or at least a different one from the pack we have been seeing.  Unfortunately, till this moment I am writing, I have not met him directly or indirectly.  Enugu state visibly got face lift - if only the road network is anything to go by - within 300 days of his administration.

One person I was discussing with tried to convince me that Gov. Chime is performing because of pressure - partly from a suite filed by Bar. Okey Ezea - and that if he is given a second chance, he would then show his true color. But my quick response was that his reaction to political pressure was acceptable to me when I compare this kind of reaction with what we have witnessed in the past where reaction to pressure would mean hounding political opponents out of the state.  We have witnessed in the past where political opponents were hounded out of their states by incumbents.  But is it not an irony that a barrister who served - quietly - under an administration that bungled eight solid years without any meaningful development has put together  some evenly reasonable development within three and half years? 

As I said earlier on, his own relation - in the person of Mr. Onyemauchu Nnamani - who helped him to stabilize during his early days in power in Enugu state, was booted out by Gov. Nnmamani.  Gov. Nnamani became uncontrollable and formed the “EBEANO” clan which produced and nurtured the likes of the current senate committee chairman on information - Chief Ayogu Eze.  None of these opposition or discord resulted in development as a way of assuaging the electorates in Enugu state throughout the eight years of near terror - and sometimes bullish - reign of the “EBEANO” clan. 

But let me mention here that Gov. Chimaroke’s administration was quick at tarring a piece of road from Opi to Nsukka town within the first 50 to 100 days of his (Dr. Chimaroke) regime - this road was excavated during Dr Nwodo’s administration. There was also this little other stretch from Obollo Afor to Ogrute , Enugu Ezike. This little gesture helped to shower up the EBANO clique’s image in the very early stage of the administration, at least, in the eyes of the Enugu North.  It was not also clear why Dr.  Nwodo scrapped off that Opi – Nsukka town road and could not reconstruct it until that diarchy regime was quashed.   

Then there was this “EBEANO” tunnel that was celebrated as if we were celebrating a metro system in the state then.  The then president Obasanjo had to come down to commission it.  And this is where I keep arguing that Chief Obasanjo did not and does not actually understand what development and human empowerment means: a man who once was quoted as saying that “…nothing embarrassed him”.

The other things we saw that looked like development were some erection of properties and establishment of out-of-touch businesses with government money and irresponsibly acquiring them by proxy.  These include, but not limited to, COSMO FM – which was a propaganda machine (for EBEANO – Enugu is working) and which was alleged to have been built with the transmitter taken from the former Enugu Broadcasting Service,  Ebeano Housing estate (where the EBEANOs controlled about 172 properties),  Renaissance University and construction of roads within some parts of Agbani community.

A brother of mine narrated to me how - even - within Agbani, some places are regarded as Nigeria and others as Biafra apparently referring to lopsided development there.  Such developments only helped to create division within societies that had hitherto lived harmoniously together.  That was the machination of the “EBANO” group.

There was also this relocation of already sited government institutions such as the UNTH (from Nsukka to Ozara) without justification.  Whereas government is free to relocate institutional sites, if need be, the way and manner it was done during the terror reign of “EBEANO” clan was akin to a post war era where the winner in the war wants to demonstrate to the vanquished that it has the will and power to do anything.  Such moves only helped to further polarize the constituents of the state which becomes counter productive.

It might be instructive to mention here that it was during the NPP administration of Jim Nwobodo that some communities in the then old Anambra State got hooked to the national grid for supply of electricity and some major road constructions and rehabilitations.  There was also this botched Adada water project during that administration.  It may be difficult to assess what Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo achieved during his era in the wawa house due to the diarchy form of regime that obtained then.  But if what Gov. Sullivan Chime achieved within his 100 days in office should be used as a yard stick, one would be tempted to conclude that Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo did not perform reasonably, although there could have been issues that were not apparent to most of us during that diarchy regime.

From the look of things, now, it seems that Governor Sullivan Chime (who was also within that “EBENANO” clan) was really not within their flock.  “EBEANO” was another subtle name for “crush ‘em”. Any opposition should be crushed and that was what we witnessed throughout the eight years of “EBEANO” cult in Enugu State.   It could also be argued that Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani became what he turned out to be due to terrible pressure.  For the first time, in recent history, we saw the duo of Nwodos and Nwobodos joining forces to persuade Governor Chimaroke Nnamani’s administration to change tactics or to accommodate them in the scheme of things. 

Certain things are discernible in Enugu state today.  There seems to be a very acceptable agreement, within a larger segment of the electorate, that Gov. Sullivan Chime has performed or is performing and will do more if given another opportunity.  There is also this notion that there is comparative peace and tranquility as opposed to what obtained during the “EBEANO” era.   I have not carried out any opinion polls but tendencies gyrate towards the zone that Sullivan Chime would get higher votes out of all the other governorship aspirants:  Dr. Shere of CPC, Bar. Oke Ezea of Labour Party, etc.

I do not want to give Gov. Chime a clean bill, and he has not even asked me to do so, but I want to say that if what we have seen on ground, so far, in terms of road network development is anything to go by and if his reaction to political pressure and opposition is to develop the state, giving him a second chance will not be a bad idea at all.  All we need to do is to mount more political pressure and opposition if he emerges again so that he will develop the state more.

It is in this wise that I intend to mention some of the things that will need to be corrected - and this will be in addition to many more viable empowerment schemes - in case Governor Sullivan Chime is re-elected into office in the April general elections and that is if Prof. Jega and his INEC will accede.


A)  Enugu Taxi Service and other related empowerment projects:  The concept of this scheme is nice but the implementation is mere slavery in nature.  I do not know how majority of these drivers who operate this scheme feel but the few I have interviewed feel so bad but do not really know how to explain their feelings.  These cabs were, in most cases, not leased directly to the drivers and this is wrong.  Secondly, the cabs get to the drivers at an exorbitant rate – up to N2.7m in most cases – and this creates a tough situation for beneficiaries. I do realize that bulk purchase by government should bring down the prices. I also realize that insurance companies have what is called fleet discount.  The company that sold these numbers of cars should have not less than six months to one year subsidized maintenance. Various state governments could join forces to do more purchase.  All these should translate to cheaper prices directly to these young men.  And so should other similar empowerment projects and schemes at both state and local government levels.  Empowerment should not become impoverishment to these people.


B)  Street Lighting:  There is not much gain from street lighting - that is powered by diesel generators - as establishment of schemes that will empower the youths.  We have not come to the point where street light will become valuable.  It could be argued that it helps in security issues but I think that the best security is to engage youths - that will become potential security threat – in meaningful employnents.  There is also not reasonable value to traffic lights within the metropolis.

C) Appointments in the civil service:  Efforts should be made to have a very balanced distribution of civil service positions within the senatorial districts of the state.  This will assuage cries and hues about marginalization which I heard was part of Dr. Okwy Nwodo’s grouse with the governor.

D) Agrarian empowerment:  The government can look into establishment of agric settlements where our teeming youths could be encouraged to take up jobs. Government can also establish food processing zones within the state which will absorb educated and skilled youths.

I am tempted to ask other governorship aspirants from the Enugu North zone to collapse their political structures in favor of Gov. Chime and work out a deal that will enable them secure the slot to this zone in 2015 so that if Senator Ayogu Eze brings Adada state, as he is now promising, it will be an Enugu North indigene who will supervise the carving out of that state from the current Enugu state.


Chris Onyishi. 

Enugu – Nigeria.

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