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Where is Governor Chime?



Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has been away from  official duty for two months. While his spokesman said he was away on ‘extended leave,’ the residents are apprehensive of this unusual absence, reports Ozioma Ubabukoh

The two-month absence of Governor Sullivan Chime from work seems to be generating anxiety among residents in Enugu State. As observed among some of them last week, the continued absence of Chime may finally have confirmed their fears that all might not be well with him.

While some worried over his health condition and long absence from work, others, expressed fury that he travelled out of the state without their knowledge.

According to them, they only got wind of the governor’s absence on October 1, during the 52nd Independence Anniversary celebration at Michael Okpara Square where the Deputy Governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, took the salute and read the speech, instead of Chime whom they had all trooped out to see.

A few of them who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH stated that their grievance boiled down to the fact that the governor travelled out without officially informing the people of the state.

A former civilian governor told our correspondent in Enugu last week, during the South-East Economic Summit that, “It is very wrong to travel out of your state as a sitting governor without informing the citizens, no matter how informal.”

He said, “The very day you are sworn in as a governor, you cease to be a private citizen, but a public servant who must be responsive and accountable to those you govern.”

The former governor, who pleaded not to be mentioned, also said, “Even if you feel that the reason for your travelling out might not be pleasant to the ears, but by all means tell the people you work for something which you think would be pleasant to them. Then you tell them also that you would be away for a certain period. By doing this, you would have doused or totally avoided whatever speculation that is building up in Enugu State over the governor’s whereabouts.”

He added, “Moreover, if indeed he travelled out on vacation, then such vacation has exceeded the time limit, even if in truth he has not taken his annual leave in five years.

“The Constitution does not provide any time limit to which a governor can be away from his state, but ideally, it is just very unreasonable for a governor to be out of his state for two months.”

The questions have been — How have Enugu people been coping with the governor’s absence? Since the governor travelled out, do Enugu people still feel the impact of governance in the state?

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chuks Ugwoke, has repeatedly said on print and electronic media that there is no governance vacuum as the Deputy Governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, is adequately acting in place of the governor.

In a statement, he said, “Chime had presided over the State Executive Council meeting on September 18, 2012 where he announced to all the members that he was proceeding on his annual leave and constitutionally handed over the reins of power to his deputy, Sunday Onyebuchi who is today the Acting Governor of the State.”

Again, in the media last week, Ugwoke had argued that the governor was observing his extended leave, since he has not gone on leave since 2007.

However, Enugu residents think differently. A car dealer at the popular Zik Avenue car stand in Enugu, Mr. Bishop Egbim, said, “Whether Chime is around or not, I have never felt his impact in my life, so I don’t think my family and I are feeling his absence.”

Egbim also said Chime’s presence or absence had not created any difference in the governance of the state.

“Most of the things that were happening when he was around are still the things happening in his absence. Since he assumed office for a second term, we haven’t seen much challenge, so if he is away now, we are not bothered, neither did we notice, because it is still the status quo,” he said.

Another resident, Mr. Rochyn Chukwuma,  also shared Egbim’s view. He stated, “In the first place, I didn’t notice any difference when he was on seat and even now that he is not on seat, there is just no difference. His absence did not make any difference since his presence has not been felt outside Enugu Local Government Area. His impact has never been felt outside Enugu Local Government Area, which includes the South, East and North.”

Chukwuma, a 2003 Alliance for Democracy senatorial candidate for Enugu West, also said, “No doubt, there is a vacuum in the politics of governance, but the powers that be are not bothered. However, I wish him the best of luck.”

A resident at Onoh Quarters in GRA, Enugu, Mrs. Tochukwu Ezenwa, said, “When he (Chime) was around, the roads were at least being worked on and patched in several parts of the state, but since he left, nothing is happening.”

Ezenwa added, “Though not much serious work was being done in the state before Chime travelled, his absence has slowed down or completely stopped the little that was happening when he was around.”

“Right now, water has not been running in the whole of Onoh Quarters and Onoh Crescent; this has been the case for about six weeks now.

“Refuse liters the state, it is so bad that Enugu is now being tagged a dirty state by visitors who come here. The Enugu State Waste Management Agency is not bothered about this situation.

“Whenever you call the head of the waste management agency, she would not pick the calls. If you send her a text messages, she won’t even reply. This wouldn’t have been happening if the governor were on seat because, as a man about town, he would have seen the filth and dirt and order its evacuation.”

Ezenwa stated further that there was tension in the state.

“He (Chime) has kept everyone on high tension because we don’t know his whereabouts and don’t even know if he is healthy or not. Every day in Enugu, we keep discussing about him and in doing so, there are speculations as to his whereabouts. We have been made to believe that he is in India. But if he is in India, what is he doing there?”, she said.

A lawyer, Miss Sophia Ugwu, said, “Yes, it might be about eight weeks of his absence, but in my view, I don’t think it has affected the state negatively.”

She said, “The truth is that government or governance is not about a person or his personality. I think it it’s more of a collective and cooperative assignment. That’s why you may see projects going on even when the governor is not physically present.”

She added, “The executive arm of government does not rest completely on the office of the governor, besides, we have an acting governor who was rightly empowered to act on the governor’s behalf. Whether or not he is living up to his billings is a different kettle of fish.”

The concern of Enugu residents over the absence of their governor is growing. For a governor who travelled since September 20, as stated by his Commissioner for Information,  and he was yet to return as the time of filing this report, there is reason for apprehension by the residents.

Chime’s last public appearance was at the meeting of South-East Governors Forum on September 9, 2012 in Enugu.


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Posted by on Nov 17 2012. Filed under Enugu, Headlines, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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