News Review: Standing Strong: And Ken Nnamani bares it all (1)

Ken Nnamani

One of the troubles with our politics in Nigeria is that a number of its actors do not gift the world a collation or insight into a number of events that transpired while they held sway in government, office or whatever contraption life foisted on them. At best, what we get are biographies written by proxies meant to serve as the originals and at worse maybe a biography hurriedly written with gaping holes between events and insufficient information on a number of them, these biographies naturally make a bad read and deny posterity that insight into what may have transpired during such periods which could guide future generations in their dealings.

For example, why did Emeka Ojukwu not give us a vivid account of what led to the Civil War or why has Gowon denied us insights into what transpired before the Civil War? Why has a Babaginda kept in secrecy the intrigues that transpired during his annulment of June 12? When will Jim Nwobodo gift us his memoirs? What of C. C Onoh? Abraham Adesanya and a host of others?

Thankfully, the likes of Senator Ken Nnamani has risen to the challenge by gifting Nigerians an insight into his version of what transpired during the heady days of the “Third Term” agenda. Nnamani,  who was a senator was also a major player as Senate President presiding over 108 of his colleagues. Nnamani in his book “Standing Strong” a 491 – page book, in which he detailed the attempts by Nigeria’s self proclaimed Saint, former President Olusegun Obasanjo to arrogate to himself another term in office after exhausting his eight years as spelt out in the 1999 constitution.

Much as I have not read the book as well as could not attend the book launch as I had other pressing matters to attend to, I was able to garner some snippets of what the book had in its stock from a number of authoritative sources close to the author.

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From my research, I garnered that the book chronicled Senator Nnamani’s time as Senate President and the numerous  reforms he brought to the National Assembly and his role as well the roles of many principal actors in the Third Term struggles.

Standing Strong attempts also to amply examine the troubles with governance and leadership in Nigeria, the need for legislative independence, the challenge of tampering with the political processes in Nigeria as well as ground breaking legislation such as the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, the ceding of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon and a number of other sundry issues.

For example, we now know how Obasanjo railroaded Yar Adua into the Presidency by bullying every other disagreeing voice into submission.

Described as a hounding, Nnamani narrates how every serious aspirant jostling to succeed Obasanjo were asked to step aside for Yar Adua. Most affected by this development was former Governor Peter Odili who was asked to withdraw because of the sudden discovery of a  “skeleton in his cupboard, about the EFCC and some documents”.

Nnamani also gives us a glimpse into how the nation’s leadership class has been selected with the example of how an Ahmed Markafi was rejected by Saint Obasanjo because he was allegedly too intelligent for Obasanjo to control. So while other nations look for its best and intelligent to lead their citizenry, Obasanjo who has always boasted that he loves this country rejected a Markafi because he was intelligent but rather chose a supposedly pliant Yar Adua. Little wonder he gifted Nigerians a Shehu Shagari at the expense of an Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe and even was alleged to have quipped on one occasion that “ The best candidate may not win the election”

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Nnamani goes on to describe the situation then as the “evidence of an inverted and corrupted democracy” pointing out that the 12 contestants and the delegates who cast their votes “ were just following the motions to give the impression of democracy in action. It was clear to anyone who had been following the events of recent weeks that the whole process at the Eagle Square that day was a charade because the outcome of the election had been predetermined.”

But Markafi, Odili and other frontliners were not the only victims of such a corrupted and inverted democracy, the author himself was also victim of such shenanigans when he bowed to Chimaroke Nnamani’s directive that he step down for Ike Ekweremadu for the office of the Senate President at the inception of 6th National Assembly. Again following the fall of Wabara following the bribery allegations Nnamani was again ordered by Chimaroke to step aside for Ekweremadu but this time the Senator refused to budge and eventually defeated Ekweremadu to become Senate President.


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By Amos Kalu
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