17 August 2007

Nigeria: Enwerem - Exit of a Political Tactician


Lagos — As it is stated in the Book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: "a time to be born and a time to die .. a time to mourn and a time to dance".

The unexpected death of the first Senate President of the Nation's Fourth Republic , Chief Evan Enwerem, on Thursday 2nd August, 2007, was indeed a lamentable loss to the nation.

As the Scriptures has clearly noted, there is a time for everything under the sum, including a time to die. The reality of the moment, in the light of this Biblical wisdom, is that Enwerem, fondly called "Mature" by his foes and admirers, is no more.

Having fulfilled his earthly mission, he has moved on to a higher plane. As the nation mourns the translation of this elder statesman into immortality, I join millions of his associates and allies to pay tribute to his memory.

Evan Enwerem was a great political leader with immense tactical abilities. A largely misunderstood politician, Enwerem believed strongly in the politics of consultations and consensus. This accounted for the vast network of contacts which he established across all the political, social and ethnic divides in the country.

I knew Enwerem from a position of intimacy. It is a relationship that had lasted for close to two decades. My first contact with Enwerem was in 1989 at the instance of Chief Innocent Oparadike, former Editor of New Nigerian Newspaper and ex-Managing Director of the Daily Times, who himself was a close confidant of Chief Enwerem. He was later to serve in Enwerem's cabinet in Imo State as the Commissioner for Information and Culture.

With the meeting mediated by Chief Oparadike, I was to take up the responsibility of managing the media campaigns of Chief Enwerem, first as the governorship candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in Imo State in 1992 and later as a candidate for the office of Senate President in 1999. I was to become his Special Assistant on Media and Public Affairs, following his election as the Senate President on 3rd June, 1999. He was pitched in that election against the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo who many political pundits had tipped to carry the day.

The unexpected emergence of Enwerem as the Senate President was in itself an attestation to his tactical abilities, astuteness and vastness of his political reach across the geo-political borders of Nigeria . He was a tireless politician with almost limitless capacity to reach out to all contending interest groups in the country.

He was a good listener, always calm, cool and collected even in the face of raging adversity. This rare political quality was put on national display during the turbulent moments of his Senate Presidency. In spite of the great persecution he had to go through in the hands of a section of the Senate, backed by a highly convoluted media attack by a section of the Fourth Estate, Enwerem remained calm and unruffled.

Unknown to his detractors and traducers, Enwerem was a man greatly endowed with the power of introspection. No wonder, that by the time he responded to several allegations against him in the media championed by a Lagos-based News Magazine, he made a mince meat of that magazine and other collaborators. He so effectively presented his defence that he made all his accusers look pitiable before the public.

However, the forces that were opposed to Enwerem's leadership of the Senate were so formidable that he would not resist for too long. He was later to bow to the suffocating and unrelenting intrigues masterminded from several quarters by his powerful opponents.

It must be stated clearly that Enwerem did not lose his presidency of the Senate to incompetence or any wrong doing. He was simply overwhelmed by powerful political forces who, in spite of all his peace overtures, could not accept the fact that power comes only from God.

As Governor of Imo State, Enwerem consolidated on the foundation laid by the inimitable Sam Mbakwe.

Although the tenure was cut short by the military intervention of November 17, 1993 he gave a good account of himself. As Enwerem lies still, snatched by the cold hands of death, I pray that God will grant his soul eternal repose.

-Nwosu was the former Special Assistant (Media & Public Affairs) to the late Senate President

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