Odo made this known when our correspondent visited his office at the House of Assembly complex, where he also stated that he (Odo) had been in constant communication with Chime.
He said, “Some of my colleagues and I have actually gone to see him and I can assure you that he will be back soon.”
When asked why the members of the state House of Assembly could not invoke the Doctrine of Necessity to invest the Deputy Governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, with full powers to act in the capacity of governor, as was the case during late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s absence from office, Odo said it was unnecessary.
He said, “What caused it then was that President Umaru Yar’Adua before he travelled out, did not write a letter to the National Assembly and instead of leaving a vacuum, they chose to apply the Doctrine of Necessity to enable the then Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to act as President.
“But in this instance, Governor Chime transmitted a letter to the House in which he stated that the deputy governor be allowed to act in his capacity pending his return.
“It was under Onyebuchi’s acting capacity that the chairman of Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board was fired and the head of service was suspended. So he has been exercising his powers as acting governor.”
He added, “The overall intent of the constitution to provide a vice-president or deputy governor is that at one time or the other when the president or governor is not in the state, the former should act.”
Meanwhile, the Save Enugu Group has said it was “unfortunate” that the state government had not deemed it fit to deny or confirm reports concerning the four-month absence and health status of Chime.
The SEG letter to Onyebuchi, which was made available to journalists, read, “Today makes it four months since the last public sighting of our governor. It is clear that all along, officials of your government were lying to the people of Enugu. The health status of any public official, particularly chief executives like a state governor, is not a private matter. The people have a right to know as invariably, their tax is being deployed to take care of that officer.”
“In the light of the above, we demand that: you make a broadcast to the people of Enugu informing them of the true situation of their governor and apologise on behalf of your government for all the falsehood dished out by your information managers.”
However, organised labour in Enugu has lauded the government for its efforts in ensuring the smooth running of governance in the absence of Chime.
A statement signed by the state Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Chukwudi Igbokwe and the Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Ikechukwu Ekere, commended Onyebuchi, for the “effective way he has piloted the affairs of the state.”
The statement read in part, “Workers are advised to go about their normal duties in their various ministries, departments and agencies of government. We urge them to ignore the rumour mongers and those who have threatened to breach the peace in the state.
“Governor Chime fully complied with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution by handing over to his deputy who has been the acting governor ever since. His absence has not affected the day-to-day running of the state because workers’ salaries and other entitlements are being paid promptly.”
Chime left the country since September 19, 2012.