The inappropriate aggression of Ken Nnamani and Odinkalu | The Guardian Nigeria News
Chidi Odinkalu has carved out a place for herself as a critic of intellectual hue in recent years in Nigeria to such an extent that her opinions are well regarded. His place in advocacy and as the former chairman of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC) places him in a privileged position. They lend credibility to everything he says. But, in a recent article he wrote titled “Ken Nnamani: The Man Who Sold His Conscience”, Odinkalu missed his shot by a mile!
Odinkalu, in what is understandably his frustration with the state of anomie in the southeast, where unexplained killings and kidnappings have been plagued by the population, became indignant at the current administration and led to some people in the All Progressives Congress in power in sordid affairs. in Anambra state, one of them, former Senate Speaker Ken Nnamani, a man who has earned his badge of integrity even in the troubled waters of Nigerian politics.
Odinkalu’s submission in his article was that Senator Nnamani did not speak about the violence in Anambra State because he is a high ranking member of the APC and works for Mr. Andy Ubah, the party’s candidate for governor on November 6. a rather misleading claim is based on nothing more than Odinkalu’s understanding that Nnamani oversaw what he calls a fraudulent APC party primary which produced Andy Ubah as the party’s candidate. This is completely wrong.
Odinkalu would have done his article justice if he had been more diligent, rather than angry and frustrated, in checking the facts. The APC State Primary was conducted by a team led by Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, while the Appeal Committee was chaired by Gombe State Governor Inuwa Yahaya. Nowhere does the name of Nnamani appear in the emergence of Andy Ubah. These are the facts, and they are in the public domain. In fact, I am and I am sure many Nigerians would read for the first time in the Odinkalu article that Nnamani imposed Andy Ubah on Anambra state. But why would Professor Odinkalu do anything to assert this? The motive behind the whole article is frankly unclear.
Ken Nnamani has just published his biography where he writes about his tenure as President of the Senate between 2005 and 2007, in which he presided over the rejection of the Constitutional Amendment Bill aimed at extending the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo. The book was due to be presented on Thursday, October 21 in Abuja.
It doesn’t have to be rocket science to see that Odinkalu’s article seeks to use the platform of the former Senate Speaker’s book to lure him into the situation in Anambra state to for whatever reason. But in doing so, the professor manipulated the facts, and that is very unfortunate.
Senator Nnamani is remembered by many Nigerians for courageously leading the Nigerian Senate to reject former President Obasanjo’s daring attempt to secure a third term against the Constitution that brought him to power. Stories have been told of threats and coercion, inducements and outright corruption exerted on Senators and Members of the House of Representatives to support the third term. Despite massive pressure, Nnamani refused to succumb and change the constitution so that President Obasanjo could have an additional term. In a country where politicians capitulate at the slightest push to do something unhealthy, Nnamani has held on despite everything and therefore remains a hero to many Nigerians. This is why Odinkalu’s play is disconcerting.
Anyone who has studied Nnamani knows that he is not someone who easily indulges in the antics of soapbox politicians who seek to scream at the rafters just to satisfy cravings for popularity. Nnamani has always been a person who follows the rulebook and performs in the appropriate quarters. If there had been any harm to the Anambra convention, there is no doubt that Nnamani would have made this presentation to the party using the channels provided. This is precisely what he did to Obasanjo’s attempted third term. He applied the rules without moving and got his result. It is instructive that the APC appeal committee did not blame the primary, nor the judiciary before which the cases were brought. Enough said.
Odinkalu’s other claim, derived from the first, is that Ken Nnamani was working by association with Andy Ubah to corrupt the electoral process in Anambra. This is a most unfortunate comment from someone who has followed the proposed term extension and detailed the corruption in this process but found nothing on Nnamani. To give the impression that Nnamani has suddenly become corrupt because he is out of power and seeks new access to power and resources is rather far-fetched. It also contradicts the impression Odinkalu gives that Nnamani is so powerful that he handed the note to Andy Ubah.
Again, Odinkalu himself admitted that Nnamani was a successful business executive before he became a senator, so as it says in Nigerian politics he has an address. Odinkalu would admit that Nnamani, since leaving the Senate, has not gone in search of political employment as is common among Nigerian politicians, instead he has pursued his business and his foundation. So what was this article about? Was it just raw anger and frustration, or was it just simple mischief?
Nnamani was right to speak up when necessary and he did not falter, contrary to the impression conveyed by Odinkalu. Recently, after the Senate passed the electoral law with a provision for direct primaries only, Nnamani opposed the decision, arguing in an interview with Arise Television that it is costly and that parties should be allowed to choose their candidates freely without the burden of a prescription which is apparently very expensive to carry out. This opposition to a decision of a Senate led by the APC comes from a man Odinkalu describes as the leader of the APC in the south-east! So where is the whole story of a man who sold his conscience?
It is evident that Odinkalu is concerned about the problems facing his Anambra state and worries about the outcome of the election for governor. But in trying to share the blame, it’s dishonorable to label people without facts just because it’s convenient, it’s just stunning. This is what Odinkalu did with Ken Nnamani in his play.
Nnamani’s Nigerians know that he is not a narrow-minded partisan politician who can sacrifice his principles and character for foul profit. Odinkalu knows this and should not have projected his anger on the former Senate Speaker.
Okafor is a retired teacher from Anambra State who lives in Lagos.