By Paul Mumeh
The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has embarked on its 2021 annual recess. Barring any unforeseen circumstances that may warrant emergency resumption, the recess will last two months. It offers opportunity for the federal lawmakers to return to their constituencies to give account of their stewardship, retrospect or review the journey so far, in order to project into the future. This is ordinarily the norm.
However, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, representing Enugu East senatorial zone, a medical doctor and teacher, is taking a different perspective. While most senators embark on the vacation, Sen. Nnamani goes to Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) to teach in the Department of Physiology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Medicine. He will, however, do so pro bono.
In March 2020, the foremost state university appointed Sen. Nnamani as a visiting professor of physiology, obstetrics and gynaecology. This, ESUT said, was “in approval and recognition of his works, research and promotion of maternal and child health.”
The university’s registrar, Dr. Leonard O. Khama, confirmed this in the appointment letter to Sen. Nnamani.
In the letter, the registrar told the senator that “as a visiting professor, your duties include block teaching, students’ supervision and research in your department and such other related assignments as are consistent with your status.”
Reacting, Sen. Nnamani said it was another window to contribute to the health sector by helping to train medical personnel and give back to society. The former two-term governor of Enugu State said: “I will make my contributions to the university using the available time during recess in Enugu to provide teaching, research and guidance to students.”
He said he would focus on maternal and foetal medicine, obstretrics, gynaecology and medical physiology as well as special clinical areas such as foetus surveillance and complications in pregnancy.
The appointment as a professor, he reiterated, was another opportunity to impart knowledge on the younger generation of healthcare providers bringing his American health system and Nigerian experiences to bear. The twin advantages, he said would enrich the knowledge of his students.
Sen. Nnamani, a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Medical School, is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. He belongs to a number of professional societies such as the Society for Perinatal Obstetricians, American Society for Cell Biology and Society for Gynecologic Investigations, among others.
It is to his credit as the governor of the Coal City State, between 1999 and 2007, that ESUT moved from the old campus in Enugu to its permanent site in Agbani, which he built. Sen. Nnamani also transformed the then Parklane Specialist Hospital into a modern and well equipped teaching hospital and college of medicine for ESUT.
It should be noted that, since his return to the Senate in 2019, Sen. Nnamani has made the issue of maternal and child health the centre of his legislative advocacy. He is also an unrepentant promoter of education for the girl-child. He is in the forefront of the campaign against violation of women and children’s rights.
He abhors all forms of discrimination against women such as early or forced marriage, child labour as well as obnoxious harmful cultural practices, including genital mutilation and denial of right to inheritance.
Informed decisions through sincere dialogue and legislative advocacy, Sen. Nnamani believes, would put Nigeria in a better stead for the good of all.
Hate or love him, Sen. Nnamani is a phenomenon, an ideas man and an irrepressible stakeholder in the politics of Enugu State since the return of democratic rule. His Ebeano political empire has continued to produce the state governors, senators and virtually all the political office holders in the Coal City state, since 1999.
Even in the forthcoming 2023 general election, it is almost certain that the Ebeano family would dictate the pace in Enugu politics, based on the unfolding political dynamics. Nnamani unarguably holds sway.
•Mumeh writes from Abuja