RAPHAEL EDE writes on the recent demolition of the deputy governor’s poultry, describing this as the latest in the series of the endless ‘wars’ by Governor Sullivan Chime on some select individuals in the state
In recent time, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has always been in the news for the negative. While Nigerians are still miffed at the governor’s war with his estranged wife, politics of succession also brought him and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu on a collision course. And while these continue unresolved, the governor may have taken up another front, this time his deputy, Sunday Onyebuchi whose poultry was being demolished on the alleged order of the governor’s Chief of Staff, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo. The theater of the absurd played out on Tuesday 28th of January, 2014.
In the last one year or thereabout he has been into controversy with all segments of the society. It is on record that since Governor Sullivan Chime returned from the controversial accumulated 140 days leave that later turned to medical adventure; he has been fighting at all fronts, even at the domestic level.
Deputy governor’s turn
The latest war is been prosecuted against his deputy , as officials of the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) and Ministry of Environment, allegedly acting on Nwobodo’s orders, in an unprecedented move stormed the official lodge of the state deputy governor, and carted away over 3,000 birds and about 40 crates of eggs from his poultry.
The officials, who were led by their commissioners, Messrs Ikechukwu Ugwuegede and Nnaemeka Chukwuone respectively, arrived the lodge at about 1p.m. and were said to have informed the humiliated deputy governor of the Nwobodo’s order to evacuate the chickens and demolish the poultry, which the government said constituted a public health hazard.
Onyebuchi, said to be with his wife and personal aides, including the security details attached to his lodge, which has been under renovation since September 2012, watched as his birds were evacuated in four trucks to an unknown destination by the officials.
In justification of the state government’s action, Chief Press Secretary to Chime, Chukwudi Achife, said it was regrettable that the deputy governor chose to ignore all entreaties, including a government directive, to relocate the birds, especially since it had to do with the health of the people.
The statement read: “In recent times, the stench from the poultry had been pervading the Government House and causing much discomfort to all workers within the Government House, including, of course, the governor.
“Following persistent complaints and appeals from staff of the government, the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Mr. GOC Ajah, was instructed to invite the Ministry of Environment and Government House clinic to inspect the poultry.
“Both the Ministry and Government House medical personnel came out with a verdict that the place was not been well kept and constituted a health hazard to people working in the Government House. Based on this report, the Permanent Secretary has, on a number of occasions, taken Government House staff to clean up the poultry.
“However, when the problem persisted, it was brought to the notice of the governor who then directed relevant government officials to communicate the health concerns to the deputy governor with a view to having him maintain the place properly or relocate the birds.
“The deputy governor did not comply with any of these directives after several correspondences, even as the stench from the poultry continued to assault people working in Government House,” the CPS stated.
Continuing, he said: “Government then directed the commissioners in charge of the Enugu Capital Territory and the Ministry of Environment to evacuate the birds to a safe place and clean up the place.
“It is regrettable that the deputy governor chose to ignore all entreaties, including government’s directive to relocate the birds, especially one that had to do with the health of the people.
“Government’s directive was carried out by officials of both ministries without incident. The birds were evacuated to a safe place and would be handed over to the deputy governor whenever and wherever he chooses.
“It is important to also state that the deputy governor does not currently live in the premises as it is being renovated by the government”.
But in a counter position, the deputy governor described the action as wicked act and a clear exhibition of impunity by a power-drunk official of the government. He said the action of the official which was shocking to him, was intended to humiliate him and show how “politically impotent” he was.
On the claim tat it constituted health hazard, Onyebuchi said those behind the act were hiding their actual motive. Onyebuchi said: “Violation of Purpose Clause which they claimed was the basis for their action was not mentioned in the press statement. The two letters which alleged violation of purpose clause of the C of O of the premises was dropped in the statement issued from the governor’s office on Monday 27th of January 2014.
“In the two letters they wrote to me on December 24 and 27, 2013 which I replied, they made mention of the environmental or health hazard emanating from the poultry. In their press statement, they claimed that they wrote me and asked me to clean up the place and I refused. So let them produce a letter asking me to do that. It is not true.”
In his reply, he said: “I told them that the poultry area was designated Agriculture Unit and I want them to deny that the structure had been used as poultry before I became deputy governor.
“Let them also deny that I have not operated the poultry since 2008. And that is why I put in my Asset Declaration at the end of my first term in office and at the beginning of the current term that I have operated the same poultry and this was verified by the Code of Conduct Bureau. How suddenly my poultry became a health hazard when it has been in existence since 2008.
“Let them also deny that there is no bigger poultry, piggery and cattle ranch in the Governor’s lodge. My poultry was properly run and cleaned because it was run with the technical support from Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture”
Asking perpetrators of the act not to justify “an evil and wicked deed by feeding the public with falsehood,” Onyebuchi stated that “If they succeed in deceiving the public, they can never deceive God.”
“As I am talking to you now, the over 3,000 birds were confiscated from the poultry and their whereabouts is not known to me. They also removed bags of feeds and feeders and other materials from the site,” he added.
Seeking God’s intervention
On his next line action, the number two citizen said: “For now I am presenting the matter to God first of all because the person behind it is so powerful that my challenging her will be like using a vehicle to collide with a moving train.
“It is unfortunate that the person who is behind this answers a Deaconess in a church I have respect for. So, let God be the judge and guide me on how to absorb the shock and the humiliation because I believe it is intended to humiliate me and show how politically impotent I am.
“Let them address the issues contained in their earlier letters and my response. They wrote me and I replied but rather than getting back to me, they resorted to demolishing the poultry just to show that they have the power as part of the impunity that they have been perpetrating in the state.”
And the issue is beginning to generate reactions from prominent indigenes of the state, with the Chairman South-East Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rt. Rev. Dr. Emmanuel O. Chukwuma, warning Governor Chime to tread with caution.
He said, “That God that gives second chance should not mean that he should now be quarrelling with everybody. I want to warn him to be very careful because he has been very much cantankerous with people who even pray for him, with people who even salvaged him and that will not augur well for him.”
Taking it further, the Enugu Anglican Bishop who expressed concern over the cold war between Chime and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu appealed to them to please take it easy.
He urged the governor to respect DSP whom he said by his own power and by his own support made him to have a second term with our own support also.
According to him, “This suppression of the group of the deputy senate president, and the disagreement between them in this present state under PDP will not augur well for the transition of the governorship in 2015.
“And let me say it, in this state, no single person can dictate who will be the next governor of Enugu state. We will all have to decide who will be the next governor of Enugu state. No single person can decide when the time comes who will be the next governor of Enugu state and when the time comes it is the mandate of the people that will decide who will be the senatorial candidate or the house of representative or whatever”, calling politicians not to be deceived by any person who fills that he is king maker.”
If the governor’s grouse with Ekweremadu is understandable, his feud with the deputy governor may be a difficult one to situate. But if Onyebuchi’s claim that the same facility had been put to use by previous occupants of the lodge is anything to go by, then there is more to this show of shame. Does it really have to do with succession? Is the chief of staff acting his master’s script? Well, while all continue to ponder over these posers, it is important to note that for most indigenes of the state, this might be a bad build up to 2015.