“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”
—Martin Luther King, Jnr.
It should be of utmost concern to the indigenes of Enugu State that the peaceful state is gradually drifting into a state of anarchy, following the intrigues playing out on the whereabouts of the state governor, Sullivan Chime. It is obvious now that the absence of Governor Chime for more than four months has truncated the political hierarchy of the state, thereby turning Enugu into a motionless and ungoverned state! Unfortunately, the people of the state have been pretending that all is well, while on the contrary, the state is sitting on the keg of gun powder!
The nonchalant attitude of Enugu people on the political crisis ravaging the state like a wildfire can be likened to the story of the proverbial frog and how it endured to the point of death! The parable of the frog is a typical story of change. When you put a frog into a bucket of hot water, it will quickly jump out of the hot water. But if you put a frog inside this same bucket of water at ordinary room temperature, it will stay put. If you now put the bucket on a stove and increase the temperature of the water gradually with the frog inside it, the frog will remain inside the bucket. If you continue to do this until the water boils, the frog will still be there inside the hot water until it dies of heat and burns. What a tragedy!
This is how Enugu citizens are behaving now concerning the political turmoil going on in the state. In an attempt to adjust to the current political crisis in the state following the long absence of the governor from office, they continue to endure executive rascality and legislative indolence until the whole state goes up in flames! It is no longer news that Chime is overseas treating an undisclosed ailment many say has incapacitated him. Funny enough, we live in a country that has good laws, but has little enforcement mechanics for her laws. The constitution has envisaged a situation where the governor may be incapacitated by reason of illness, in order to ensure that the smooth running of the state government is not interrupted. The constitution has made it expressly clear that the deputy governor will take over as the substantive governor, but what is happening in Enugu is different; an obviously incapacitated governor has refused to toe the path of honour by throwing in the towel! To me, Chime should resign now and allow his deputy to take over. It will be wise and more honourable for him than what he is doing now, lying on a sick bed fighting two battles: his life and the governorship seat he left behind.
Chime is a public figure whose earning is got from the taxpaying Enugu citizens. His health status information is deceptively managed by his aides who see the seat of the governor as a personal property of the Chimes. While in an Indian hospital, his salaries and allowances are still running including security votes when he is in a limbo with only his aides becoming his mouthpiece. Almost a replay of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua incident. Not even the acting governor in the employ of the state has spoken with him. I think this is an instance of a ghost governor in office! His media crew are still insulting the sensibilities of the people of the state by insisting that he is on “vacation”. Since September! What a load of horse crap! I am not wishing him death, because as mortals we are, none of us is immune from sickness or death, but until he learns to start showing respect to the people of Enugu State who elected him, then he does not deserve the respect and sympathy of Enugu citizens either. Governor Chime should do the right thing and abdicate power as he is incapable of continuing in office, he is an elected governor and not an emperor or a King! He was not born as governor of Enugu State, but as Sullivan Iheanacho Chime. His life and that of his family members are not tied to Lion Building (Governor’s Office), he did not inherit the governorship throne from his father, because Enugu State is not practising a monarchy!
Some people have been calling for prayers for the quick recovery of the ailing governor. As good as that might be, I think there is no how someone should start telling the people of Enugu State to pray for a governor which the Government House, Enugu declared fit. How can Enugu citizens pray for quick recovery of someone who is on “vacation” or holidays? Who is fooling who? I wonder whether they see Enugu citizens as a bunch of dullards and dummies! It is only in Africa that her leaders want to die in office. They rather leave offices in their corpses than resign or retire. How many times have we heard that the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, went for cancer surgery in Cuba last year? Whenever he was going; he would tell Venezuelans that he was going for operation on this or that. They would join hands and pray for their leader to go and come back successfully, but ours is a different ball game: our rulers will hide it till the person dies! South African legend, Nelson Mandela, spent his Christmas in a hospital, the whole world was aware of that. The late president of Ghana, John Atta-Mills, died in a Ghanaian hospital after a long battle with cancer, Ghana citizens were aware of that unfortunate sickness. A situation where we have an absentee governor for more than four consecutive months is not only crazy, but shows that we do not have a country in the first place!
It is a known fact that Chime has not been in a sound health all this while. He has been reported to be debilitating and in an instance, reportedly collapsed in a state function. It is very sad that the national leadership of the PDP, his party, has refused to address this issue appropriately, thereby leaving the good people of the state in a political quandary. The fact that his deputy is acting is not enough reason to keep an incapacitated and non-functioning governor in office. As pathetic as it may sound, the 1999 constitution as amended, did not stipulate the time limit within which the deputy governor can act, before he will be sworn in as a substantive governor if the governor fails to show up and resume normal duties. Instead, it just says “…until the governor returns…” (even if he is away for eternity?). If this is the case, it is absurd! It is very unfortunate that a state that has produced great men such as the late C.C. Onoh, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Senator Ken Nnamani, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, Prof. Barth Nnaji, among numerous others has been hijacked by a cabal led by some power hungry elements!
Despite the hue and cry of the citizens of the state, Eugene Odoh has refused to use the powers conferred on him as the Speaker of the House of Assembly to resolve this quagmire. There is this Igbo adage that says an elder does not sit in the house and watch a goat being strangulated by a rope. Where are the elders from Enugu State? The Nwobodos, the Nnamanis, the Nwodos, the Nnajis, the Mbakas, the Igwesis, among others? Can we continue to sit down and watch Enugu State run into a ditch like a fully-loaded luxury bus without a driver steering the wheels? I wonder whether the Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, is waiting for the state to drift into a full-blown anarchy before he intervenes to ensure the resolution of the political crisis in the state accentuated by Chime’s long absence by ensuring the swearing-in of Sunday Onyebuchi as the substantive governor of the state, because there is a time when silence becomes a betrayal. An injustice done anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere; apology to Martin Luther King, Jnr.