The Message from Governor Chime

Governor Chime
Governor Chime

Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State breaks his silence as three state governors from Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Benue, visit him in London

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Feb. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

GOVERNOR Sullivan Chime of Enugu State is making a rapid recovery on his undisclosed illness and will soon return home from London. That was the message brought back to Nigeria by three state governors who visited the ailing governor recently. Chime, who was pictured with his visitors, Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio and Gabriel Susuwan, governors of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Benue states, sent a message home saying: “I am alive and well, I will be back very, very soon. Tell Nigerians to discountenance all the rumours about my health.”

On their arrival from the visit, Amaechi said the Enugu State governor was in good spirit and recovering well. “We saw him in an atmosphere of recovery. We were able to go out with him, he is in good shape and is getting ready to come back home very soon. We thank God for what He has done, how He has helped him to recover,” Amaechi said. That position was corroborated by Suswam who said Chime had recovered fully. “Chime has been discharged from the hospital. He has recovered fully and is physically okay. I was impressed with what I saw. We walked around together, ate together and he is going about on his own,” Suswam said.

Chime with Akpabio, Suswan and Amaechi in London
Chime with Akpabio, Suswan and Amaechi in London

The Akwa Ibom State governor, on his part, said he was happy that his Enugu counterpart was in high spirit and in good shape. He advised Nigerians to desist from wishing their leaders evil. “This our visit to him and the fact that he was able to speak, has put to rest all the rumours. Nigerians should learn how to pray for their leaders instead of ganging up through non-governmental organisations, NGOs and other groups and wishing them evil. We are all human beings. As humans, we can break down anytime which means we should be sympathetic with our leaders when they face challenges whether health-wise or security-wise. We should pray for them instead of wishing them bad,” Akpabio said.

But Maxi Okwu, the convener of Save Enugu Group, SEG, was unimpressed. On Monday Okwu sent a letter to the Speaker on January 21, asking the lawmakers to use the Doctrine of Necessity to empower the acting governor to take full charge of state affairs. He cited the case of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, which was determined by the National Assembly when the president’s absence was affecting the running of governmental affairs.

The group demanded an explanation regarding the letter purportedly sent by Chime to the lawmakers notifying them of his intention to embark on leave in September last year. They stressed that the said letter, if any, ought to have been made public since it was not meant for the speaker’s private perusal.

The SEG letter said in part: “We are also interested to know on what ground the governor left the state. Was it on ‘vacation’ or health ground? It cannot be for both, we humbly submit, as we believe that the ‘or’ makes the clause disjunctive and with different consequences. We would wish to inquire from you, if you did write formally to the deputy governor intimating him of the said letter and attaching a copy of the letter to enable him immediately begin to function as acting governor? This would be the prescribed procedure since we have been advised by constitutional lawyers that a swearing in is not mandatory in this particular circumstance.”

But Eugene Odo, speaker of Enugu House of Assembly, said the call by some prominent citizens of the state under the aegis of SEG for the House to invoke the Doctrine of Necessity to enthrone Sunday Onyebuchi, the deputy governor, as acting governor was unacceptable. He insisted that the absence of Chime was in order and should not be compared with that of the late President Yar’Adua.

The Speaker insisted that the governor transmitted a letter to the House before travelling, and that in the letter, he empowered his deputy as the acting governor. “We believe that those demanding that do not actually know what the Doctrine of Necessity is all about. Perhaps, people equate the Doctrine of Necessity with a mere jamboree phenomenon. It also beats my imagination when some people started to say that the House of Assembly should empower the deputy governor to act. Under our constitution, the power to act has been vested on the deputy governor and the constitution does not provide for double acting capacity as some people are clamouring for,” Onyebuchi said.

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