by Okwudili Edeh
Like the chicken impeachment itself, the recent swearing in of ex-Deputy Governor, Sunday Onyebuchi’s successor did not go without a sad drama. Governor Sullivan Chime told the gathering: “Drawing the analogy of a broken down vehicle, we have just replaced a bad spark plug, the vehicle is repaired and journey will be smooth again”.
This has expectedly set tongues wagging, with many insisting that it was a wrong analogy. An interesting reaction to the online edition of the story on Vanguard newspapers website by a reader who identified himself as Nnaji reads: “The problem with Chime and his government cannot be solved by only changing the plug of the vehicle. The vehicle is already grounded. What is required is to change the engine and the driver. Changing the plug of a bad engine will not move the vehicle”.
My first take is that irrespective of the crack in their relationship, it was an unbefitting of the governor and a wrong way to describe a Deputy of seven years and three months. Those who understand the game of power would always advice that both in victory and defeat, it is always important to draw the line, to know when to stop.
In my humble estimation, this rule applies even more to Chime given that whatever temporary “victory” he enjoys over Onyebuchi is pyric in every sense of it. If he cares a hoot about public angst expressed against him, his House of Assembly, the kangaroo panel, and the State Chief Judge, he should have known that the chicken impeachment is a great toll on his individual reputation while also making Enugu appear like a Banana Republic. So, common sense demanded that he should at least have waited a bit for the fart stirred by the chicken impeachment to subside before dropping another Hiroshima-like missile on top of an already very bad situation.
The analogy also contradicts his popular statements during the launch of his second term bid in 2011. He described his deputy as the most loyal, dedicated, and hardworking deputy. Again, during the media briefing on his return from over four months medical treatment overseas, Chime praised his deputy to high heavens. He said: “Everything kept on happening as if the governor was not on leave; nobody talked about strike, nobody talked about nonpayment of salaries, no contractor agitated over payment of fees, everything and life continued to be normal. It was like we had increased activities in my absence and I can say that I can beat my chest to thank the deputy governor who led the team and who ensured that the system worked in my absence.”
However, the bigger issue here is that the Enugu engine is a sick “tokumbo” grade. It is on record that Chime slumped during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the Okpara Square, Enugu on 15th January 2008. He collapsed again at Nsukka during the 2011 campaign.
In fact, a content analysis of Sullivan’s programmes and activities since he became governor on May 29, 2007, showed that out of a possible 111 events, he attended only 17 physically. He was represented at the rest.
However, the greatest anxiety over the Governor’s state of health came during his many months sojourn overseas for cancer treatment. The lies by his kitchen cabinet that Chime was enjoying an ‘accumulated leave” did not help matters. The worst was when it was reported that he had died in an Indian hospital. Thank God it was untrue, but Enugu had never been that apprehensive.
The poor state of the Enugu engine is, in fact, one of the reasons many wonder why he is insistent on going to the Senate, rather than ease himself out of politics to nurse his health. For instance, while you can send aides to represent you as a Governor, only you can speak for yourself and your constituents on the floor of the Senate. There are strenuous public hearing and oversight visits to undertake. The honourable thing would have been to follow the example of his Cross River State counterpart, Liyel Imoke who also has health challenges. Imoke said in May: “I am not running for the senate neither, I am looking for a successor who will protect me. I have said it and will continue to say it that I’m not running for another office again’’.
Indeed, I am persuaded to believe that Enugu’s problem is not the spark plug. From Clara Chime’s alleged detention to the chicken impeachment and recent media clamp down, it is obviously about a faulty “tokumbo” engine that runs on the toxic fuel of inherent wickedness, political highhandedness, and unnecessary controversies that weaken the engine the more.
Therefore, rather than worsen the state of the engine or endanger the political ecosystem with more political carbon monoxides in a do-or-die pursuit of a senatorial ambition, it is just best for Chime to pull over and retire quietly to the great treats of the famed Udi palm wine (Aneke Achime).
Okwudili Edeh writes from Enugu
The opinions expressed is article are solely those of the author.