Chimaroke Nnamani’s unwarranted chastisement of Peter Obi’s army of social media supporters has finally led him into an avoidable error. It has led him into a wild goose chase. That is what his recent essay on Bola Tinubu amounts to.
I had thought that Nnamani, as an elder, would manage his temper. But I was utterly wrong. The man does not have a tame temperament. That was why he flew off the handle over an issue he should have shrugged off. The impression the former governor has left many with is that he has, before now, been battling with ingrained prejudices over Peter Obi. Were it not so, the choices and preferences of some young folks would not have given him such goose pimples. Recently, Nnamani, for whatever reason, lashed out at the social media movement of Peter Obi, describing its promoters as dictators with no home training. Nnamani also derided the Peter Obi presidential bid as a bandwagon, and vowed that he would ensure that it does not take place in Enugu State.
By his pronouncements, Nnamani had fished in troubled waters. And he got a raw deal from Obi’s social media goons. They were as acerbic as Nnamani. They paid him back in the language of the street, which he deployed in his criticism. Many have expressed disappointment with Nnamani over this. The overriding feeling is that his altercation with the Obidients was below him. He descended to the level of guttersnipe with young men and women that he ought not to have joined issues with in the first place. By so doing, Nnamani degraded himself, to the disappointment of his admirers.
But it does appear that Nnamani is still smarting from the mental bruises inflicted on him by the Obidient movement. He is not satisfied that he showed no respect for Obi by being childishly resentful of his presidential bid, regardless of his misgivings with the style and approach of Obi’s teeming supporters. He finally betrayed his private conviction when he set out to write an essay on Bola Tinubu. It would not have mattered if the essay was well tailored. But this one had neither rhyme nor rhythm. It was staccato in every material particular. In fact, if you put aside Nnamani’s pedantic narrative on sick but successful United States Presidents and its possible applicability to Nigeria, you can hardly see any other purpose that his laborious essay on Tinubu serves.
So, why did Nnamani choose to write an essay on Tinubu, his co-governor, some 15 years after they left office? Nnamani was not clear on this. He left his intent in the realm of speculation. This makes the piece read like an apologia or a piece of hagiography designed to serve a political purpose.
I have said elsewhere that Nnamani’s intent in that article is shrouded in suspicion. I had wondered why he had to wait until this time to eulogize Tinubu. My contention was that Nnamani was working hard to establish a fertile ground for an anti-Obi campaign by pretending to hold Tinubu, one of Obi’s rivals in the 2023 presidential election, in high esteem. It is a well oiled sleight of hand aimed at leading the unwary by the nose.
But Nnamani made a poor job of his outing. He promoted issues that ought not to come up in the essay at all. The padding was too banal not to be noticed. Here, we saw an Nnamani delve into Southern Governors Conference of 2000 and 2001. Whereas Tinubu hosted the first in Lagos in October 2000, Nnamani played host to the second in January, 2001. But what purpose did the conferences serve? Nothing. Tinubu initiated the conference at the time he did as a protective weapon against the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency. Obasanjo and Tinubu were yet to part ways at that time. It must be noted that the idea of the conference ended up as mere talk shop because it was not properly conceived. That was was why it came to an abrupt end after the second meeting. It was a stillborn child; a red flag that flew over southern Nigeria without a sense of direction. It is surprising that Nnamani saw this as worthy of mention.
Perhaps to tell the Obidients that he is as qualified, if not more qualified than their principal, to seek the office of President, Nnamani began to enumerate Enugu’s firsts and innovations in governance under his administration. In the frenzy to sing his own praises, he held that he and Tinubu pioneered the establishment of development areas in Nigeria. Did Nnamani mean this? No, he couldn’t be serious. Anybody who has a scant knowledge of the early stories of this Fourth Republic will know that the first state to create development areas was Ebonyi State, under the leadership of Dr. Sam Egwu. Lagos was to join after states like Bayelsa tried their hands at it. It will be recalled that the Obasanjo presidency rejected the development areas because they were made to assume the status of local government areas. It was after this was modified that the monthly revenue allocation to Ebonyi State, which Obasanjo ordered to be withheld on account of this, was released. That of Lagos lasted for several months before it was resolved because Tinubu was not initially disposed to any form of compromise. Enugu State under Nnamani was not in the picture in all this.
After all the rigmarole, Nnamani ended up holding Tinubu as the most successful governor in modern Nigeria. He also described Tinubu as the hardest-working politico of our generation. By painting Tinubu in these brilliant colours, Nnamani was putting him ahead among the top three contenders for the presidential seat. Nnamani’s intent was to spite Obi and his teeming supporters. But his effort fell flat on the face. I doubt if he has, through this claim, converted anyone to his side.
But Nnamani missed it most when Atiku Abubakar is brought into the picture. How can Nnamani present Tinubu as his poster boy and at the same time be pledging loyalty to Atiku? This is a contradiction in terms. Nnamani is simply being clever by half. He wants to lead Nigerians, particularly his PDP political family, by the nose. But I doubt if anybody is taken in by his antics. The fact is that Nnamani has made his choice in Tinubu. His pledge of loyalty and allegiance to Atiku and PDP is merely pretentious. The PDP needs to watch this Tinubu maniac closely.