Some might wonder why YNaija has chosen to add Senator Chimaroke Nnamani to its very prestigious list for the 2019 Person of the Year. After all, Nnamani has been in political office since Nigeria returned to civil rule in 1999 and has had ample opportunity to influence national policy through his position in the 8th Senate and his 8 years as governor of Enugu state.
But you have to understand that Senator Nnamani is one of the few governors of this democratic dispensation who has truly put the needs of his people first. It was during his tenure as governor that education was prioritized in Enugu State with major upgrades and renovations for the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu State University Teaching Hospital and the Parklane College of Medicine, as well as other infrastructural projects that opened up the state and modernized its capital city. Such is the reverence for Senator Nnamani that when he lost his 2015 bid for the Senate in 2015, spontaneous mass protests in his support were staged across Enugu City, lamenting what was considered a denial of his mandate.
Senator Nnamani’s easy win at the 2019 general elections is proof that his connection with the people of Enugu state has not waned, instead it has grown stronger. And his actions at the Nigerian senate, a senate that has been accused by many as a tool for the machinations of the federal government have set him apart. Senator Nnamani was the only senator to vocally condemn the house’s attempts to pass a Social Media Bill that sought to witch hunt and punish anyone judged to be dissenting of the government, citing its unconstitutionality and its power to gag Nigerians from criticizing bad government.
A seasoned public speaker himself, Nnamani has always asserted the value of an independent press and a vocal electorate and has always championed feedback with the electorate in his positions as governor and senator. It is fitting that Nnamani would be the first and only senator so far to publicly condemn the social media bill, speak truth to power about the real motives behind the bill and urge the citizenry to rise up and demand from their own senators that the bill be abandoned.
Nigerians everywhere can rest a little easier because we have senators like Chimaroke Nnamani who value health and education over holding on to political power. The rest of our executive and legislature can learn a thing or two from him.