In spite of a pictorial of Governor Sullivan Chime posing in winter suit with Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ forum Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers state Governor), Obong Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom) and Gabriel Suswam (Benue), the Save Enugu Group (SEG) yesterday described the pictorial as a phantom, claiming that the Chime is hospitalized at the Metropolitan Humane Hospital Swiss cottage in the United Kingdom.
The group reacting on the picture which was published by virtually all Nigerian media said nothing can be further from the truth except if the governors who allegedly posed with Chime in the photograph enjoyed “bi-location” which is only possible to ecclesiastical beings.
They insisted that the letters they wrote to the Acting Governor, of Enugu State, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi and later to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odo, “were inspired by the best of intentions”, but were shocked that rather than address the issues raised in the letters, the top government officials decided to denigrate them.
“We sincerely believed that the mystery surrounding the prolonged absence, which was 112 days on that day, of our dear
Governor H.E. Sullivan Iheanacho Chime should be lifted without further delay. The gist of that letter was that the question, where is Governor Chime should be answered by the Enugu State Government within two weeks.
“To facilitate this query we proposed that the state government should constitute a delegation of eminent sons and daughters of the state to seek out the Governor and verify his status and report back to the people of Enugu state. We made this proposal in the light of the loss of confidence in the excuses and spin emanating from government information mangers.
“The second letter dated January 16 2013, was triggered by the news break from Sahara reporters that our Governor had been discovered ailing in London. We on our own, commissioned private investigators who tracked our Governor also to London, undergoing treatment at Metropolitan Humane Hospital Swiss cottage”.
They argued that in the absence of a public broadcast by the Acting Governor to the people of Enugu State clearing the air, and the decision to publish the picture of Chime in photograph with Akpabio, Amaechi and Suswam, was fabricated by government officials to cover up the truth especially as Governor Peter Obi himself had claimed he also visited Chime in London, but “never took pictures with Chime” not made expatiated comments on his encounters with Chime.
They maintained that given the insults received from Speaker Odo whom they also accused of deliberately dodging or “refused to answer the specific questions which we had put to him, our stand is that there is an obvious attempt to mislead the public”.
They said all they were doing “comes down to the right of a people to know what their leaders are up to and how they are deploying tax payers’ money. It’s the issue of due process and transparency in governance; democratic engagement under the rule of law and constitutionalism.
“The picture released by the state government shows a seemingly fit Governor Chime with his colleagues. Vanguard newspapers of the same day also reported a phone conversation between the Governor and the newspaper. This development to us is a classic replay of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s song ‘government magic.’ No doubt this was a panic response by Enugu state government to meet our two week deadline to reveal the location and status of our Governor. If that was the purpose then it has failed woefully.
“We have come to the conclusion that the picture posted by Enugu state government as having been taken on Tuesday 22nd January 2013, is fake and tells a lie about itself. Some of the Governors shown on that picture could not have been in London on that day unless they have the gift of bi-location.
“Secondly and more seriously, if Governor Chime is as fit as shown, what is he still doing away from his duty post for over four months? We chose to believe our working Governor is not that irresponsible. Again the telephone conversation reported by Vanguard has done great injury to that paper.
“Many of us will remember the Yar’Adua phantom interview with BBC. Is this a replay here? We challenge them to play the audio. We all recall the dramatic telephone conversation between President Obasanjo and late Yar’Adua at a campaign rally in 2007, of ‘Umoru are you dead’?
“The Chairman South East Governors’ Forum, Okwute Igbo Peter Obi was reported in the Sun newspaper of Monday 21st January, 2013, at page 10 as saying that he was with Governor Chime in London when the news broke of the Ezu river bodies. He immediately cut short his visit and rushed home.
“How come there was no picture taken and why did our own Governor not rush home also? The river is at the joint boundaries of the two states.
“The Speaker of the Enugu State Assembly would be made to know through the arbiter on constitutional disputes that he does not have the last word or ipsi dixit on the interpretation of section 190 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“Finally we repeat and re-iterate our demand in our letter of 16th January 2013 that Enugu state government must come clean on this Governor Chime saga and apologize to the people of Enugu state”.