FEATURE ARTICLE

Tunde FagbohungbeMonday, June 6, 2005
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Abuja, Nigeria

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Forwarded by: Dr. FEMI AJAYI


MAKING LAW FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA:
KEN NNAMANI SET TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE


t was Tuesday. The date was April 5th, 2005. The venue was the Senate Chambers of the National Assembly. It was a day when there was neither South nor East nor West. It was a unique day when the Senators refused to divide along pro-executive or pro-Senate. Again, it was a day when party alliances or caucus mafianism played no role. On that day, the distinguished Senators allowed merit, dignity, experience and maturity to take control of affairs. That best described the spirit that pervades the atmosphere in which Nnamani was elected as the Senate President.


With one hand on that very Bible used by his predecessors, with smile of acceptance in the faces of his colleagues, with the Senate Chamber’s temperature reading about 28ocentigrade, Ken Nnamani took the Oath of Office as the Nigerian 5th Senate President in the fourth Republic.

To the 30 million Nigerians who watched the proceedings in the evening on the television set, it was a day that commences new lease of purposeful leadership. That these Nigerians were right was further corroborated by an ace journalist and highly intelligent and widely read columnist – Sam Akpe. In his regular and educating weekend column in Saturday Punch called The Senate, Akpe captured the mood of the nation. Writing at page 45 of Saturday Punch, May 7, 2005, he said:

"A silent revolution is sweeping through the Nigerian Senate. It looks like purposeful leadership. Gradually, President of the Senate, Kenechukwu Nnamani, is taking charge, leaving nobody in doubt about that…………"

This is a testament to the signs of good things to come.

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His inaugural speech melted partisan lines, diffused hanging tension, ignited hope and sparked enthusiasm among the totally disillusioned watchers of parliamentary affairs in Nigeria. In it, Nnamani called for an "enlarged vision of legislating for good governance" and "enactments that consolidate on the dividends of democracy". He called on his colleagues to "let us move with supersonic speed that will make Nigerians join the new economic age and liberate our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters from the dungeon of poverty and misery to the warming height of prosperity."

On the relationship of the Senate with the Executive arm of Government, the new Senate President said he will work towards harmonious relationship of the executive arm as far as the independence of the Senate is not in jeopardy. And that the point of divergence will strictly be on issues that affect the entire interest of "the teeming masses that elected all of us - both the Executive and the Legislature- and it shall be pursued within the ambit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which all of us swore to defend". In another occasion, Senator Nnamani declared:

"We shall NEVER legislate out of fear, but we shall NEVER fear to legislate. We shall hold separation of power a sacred principle."

It was on this promising note that Senate President Nnamani began his administration.

However, the question which is paramount in the mind of Nigerians is: Will Nnamani make a difference? The question, though sounds sceptical, is however rightly asked given the circumstances that surrounded the exit of the former Senate Presidents.

Who is this Ken Nnamani? What are his disposition?What are his mission and vision? What are his personal convictions that can make him sail the ship of the Senate in this turbulent water? What are his agenda for good governance? This write up is set to address some of these posers and throw more light on the person of Ken Nnamani as a man and a Senator.

This x-ray is crucial at this time because if you know a man, you will probably assess him from the angle of informed knowledge, then it is left for you either to hate him or love him.

The best means to measure a man is through what he says and what others say about him. Senator Nnamani’s first familiarization meeting with his Special Advisers and Assistants revealed a lot about him.

In a voice laden with courage and eyes radiating determination to excel, Nnamani encapsulated his attitude to Public Office in the enduring principle of leadership spirit of Maoism:

"If we have shortcomings, we are not afraid to have them pointed out and criticized, because we have serving the people. Anyone, no matter who, may point out our shortcomings. If he his right, we will correct them. If what he proposes will benefit the people, we will act upon it".

On criticism, Nnamani is an apostle of the following dictum:

"As for criticism, do it in good time; don’t get into the habit of criticising only after the event."

A good student of history will remember that these are words of Mao Tse Tung of China in September 8th, 1944 and July 31st 1955 respectively. The deep will always call to the deep.

The implications of these statements are that, Nigeria has got a Senate President who is receptive to criticism, ready to work in tune with the Nigerians. It is also implied that the Senate President is preparing to follow the footsteps of the great leaders.

The emergency of Senator Nnamani as a consensus candidate is a pointer to the fact that he is highly respected among his fellow Senators. The testimonies of the distinguished Senators are heart warming and actually confirm the b elief in some quarters that for the first time the Senate has got the President they want and perhaps deserve. Nnamani’s Senate Presidency could be best "defined" as the President of the Senate, determined in the Senate, by the Senators and for the Senate.

What are the Ken’s antecedents that will enhance the actualisation of these promises?

The writers of old have said, and we agree with them that the greatness of a man is measured form the depth from which he is coming. Born on the 2nd of November, 1948 in Enugu, Kenechukwu Nnamani armed himself with double degrees in Business Administration from the prestigious University of Ohio, Athens in U.S.A.

After years of business foraying at high level and engagements in philanthropic activities, Nnamani joined politics in the fourth Republic. In 2003, he offered himself for service as a Senatorial aspirant from Enugu State. With his antecedents, Enugu state people did not hesitate to vote for him.

Setting agenda for himself, Nnamani issued a document titled: Making Nigeria Work: My Mission as a Senator. The 44-page document which has now turned to be a Charter of Faith and possibly of Destiny of Mr. Senate President, encapsulated a vision, a mission and a call to service.

By more of accident than design, this vision and mission are now turning out to be a shared but joint vision of other 108 lawmakers that occupying the upper chambers.

Of utmost interest in the entire scenario is the fact that this agenda was set in 2003 by a man who did not know that he will become the Senate President but had vision to prepare himself for the challenges of leadership in any form. When the opportunity came, his colleagues saw in him what they were looking for – independent mindedness, inner will, penchant for goal setting and determination to achieve the goals.

Propelled by internal will power and enthused by the commitment of his colleagues to purposeful legislative business, Senator Nnamani, in the spirit of team work then unfolded the vision and mission as sharpened by the Declaration of Commitment to progress made by his fellow Senators.

Suffice to say that a mission must have a history. A mission must have programme of action. And a mission must have a goal. A mission must have a propelling force. Nnamani’s mission is coined in a brief but animating words:

"To provide purposeful and exemplary leadership for the Senate for the initation of appropriate and timely legislative programmes that meet the needs of our nation through constructive engagement with the Nigerian nation, the Executive and Judiciary, civil society and other stakeholder group."

The mission according to him backed up by a vision:

"To strengthen and sustain faith in the Senate as a credible institution for making laws for good and optimal development of our nation-Nigeria."

Looks like a tall dream and distant wishes, but with the type of comradeship and singularity of purpose that now pervades the Senate, they are achievable, even in a very near future. All the stakeholders in the Project-Nigeria (i.e. the press, the populace, the executive the judiciary and the civil society) should make haste and join the Nnamani piloted jet of progress that is catching a date with history.

Niccolo Machiavelli in his Discourse, book III at p. 422 said:

"Wise men say, and not without reason, that whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past…"

The Senate President realised this pretty early and he has met his colleagues and they all agreed and even vowed that NEVER will the Senate nor Senators be involved in those negative controversies that tarnish the image of the Upper House. That NEVER will the Senate be derailed from its constitutional duties of law-making and checks and balances and that NEVER will the proverbial banana peel be allowed to derail the Senate leadership.

It is now left for us, Nigerians, to make up our mind to give chance to this new leadership to succeed. They need our prayer. They need our support. They need our suggestions. When the history of this NEW Senate will be written, where do you decide to be: in the Chambers, on the gallery or at the lobby? The choice is ours.