Worried by the prolonged absence of Governor Sullivan Chime from Enugu, various interest groups want the acting governor and the House of Assembly to find a solution to the seeming impasse
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Jan. 21, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE people of Enugu state are increasingly becoming worried over the prolonged absence of Sullivan Chime, governor of the state. A number of them have now joined pro-democracy groups campaigning that the acting governor and the state House of Assembly should find a solution to the logjam. One of such groups is the Save Enugu Group, SEG. The group has also joined forces with other groups like Enugu Development Association, EDA, Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, Patriotic Alliance of Nigeria, PAN and Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, to make their demand heard.
In a letter dated January 8, 2013, SEG gave Sunday Onyebuchi, acting governor of the state and the House of Assembly, a two-week ultimatum to make a categorical statement on the whereabouts of the governor. The group, which has former commissioners and top politicians from the state as members, also mandated Onyebuchi to constitute a delegation, which should include eminent personalities from the state, to pay a visit to the governor and report to the people of the state.
The letter said: “Today makes it 110 days since our great governor was last seen in public. It is in the public domain that Governor Chime was last sighted in public on September 19, 2012. Since then, sightings and near sightings of him have been reported, which all turned out to be a hoax. This has created a thriving mill of idle gossipers, who speculate on his whereabouts and state of health. Matters got to a head December 15, 2012, when the national media was awash with the news of the death of our governor.
“On some occasions, the Commissioner of Information, Mr. Chuks Ugwoke, had come out with an official statement that His Excellency was quietly enjoying his holiday and accumulated leave or that he would be in office shortly. These conflicting accounts merely served to exacerbate rather than ameliorate the situation. We are also told that at the time of his disappearance from public view, His Excellency, as required by section 190 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), duly handed over to the deputy governor.
“We must bring to your notice that the public is awash with accounts of the inability of the acting governor to discharge his mandate under the Constitution, as a cabal of unelected officers have rendered his authority otiose. We, therefore, most humbly submit that this is a most untidy state of affairs. At this juncture, we make bold to ask: Can the governor hand over and create an acting administration in perpetuity? What is the duration of annual leave for the Governor? How many days make up this ‘accumulated annual leave’? Could the Constitution and government holiday regulations have given His Excellency a carte blanch to take a break for over 100 days? We do not think so.
“The question, which we would be most obliged if it is answered is: Where is His Excellency our governor? We are in no doubt that comparatively speaking he has done well or that government is going on ‘peacefully’ or ‘smoothly’ as his supporters would claim; but the fact of unreasonable absence from office, is suggestive of permanent inability to discharge the functions of his office. In the alternative, we would argue that his disappearance for this extended period amounts to grave misconduct.”
But, government officials have dismissed the letter, warning the public not to pay attention to the group. Chukwudi Achife, chief press secretary to the governor, said that the state government would not join issues with any group. “Government does not intend to join issues with these habitual attention-seekers. It is obvious that having realised, perhaps most painfully, that their media attacks had not achieved their pre-determined goal, they have now chosen to issue a statement as a group. We urge our people to ignore the hollow argument and baseless call by the group, which merely expose the narrow mindedness of the pay-masters because the people of Enugu State know the real men behind the mask,” he said.