ON CHIME'S PROXY WAR AGAINST FOWLS IN ENUGU
Some kind of a perfectly crafted proxy war is going on right now as I write in the city of Enugu and the war front will amaze you if you learn about it. Reason: This proxy battle is being waged by persons belonging to hitherto one political family under the leadership of the governor of Enugu state Mr. Sullivan Chime and the battle ground is in the most unlikely of all places- an 'executive poultry' owned and operated by the ever so loyal deputy governor of Enugu state- Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi.
Political watchers are already busy in coming up with different possible reasons for this disguised war principally started by the Enugu state Governor's Chief of Staff-Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo. The coming governorship election on Valentine day next year to select the successor to the outgoing governor of Enugu state is the first important reason for this war between two possible aspirants to the exalted position. The story is that the outgoing governor of that state favours his chief of staff to succeed him but feelers are clear that his action if it materializes may become the worst political betrayals ever going by the level of unprecedented loyalty observed by the deputy governor who stood by him consistently against all odds when the sate chief executive battled with cancer in different foreign hospitals. But how does the chief of staff think that she will succeed in becoming the first full fledge elected female governor in Nigeria's most conservative region of South East? Your guess is as good as mine.
From the fringes of political speculations, certain persons have also come up with the claim that the Deputy Governor who exhibited some of the most incredible political loyalty to his boss for a period of four months that the Enugu state governor was hospitalized in the United Kingdom, say that it is possible that the Governor's inner kitchen cabinet are suspecting that the Deputy Governor may be in close political proximity with the camp of the nation's Deputy Senate President- the Enugu state-born Senator Ikechukwu Ekweremadu who recently had brushes with the governor over the rumoured ambition of the Deputy Senate President to succeed the Enugu state governor while the incumbent governor is suspected to be eyeing the sea of the Deputy Senate President in the next National Assembly polls.
The story making the rounds in most newspapers is that the Enugu state powerful chief of staff directed the state commissioner for environment to lead an armed squad to head straight to the official quarters of the Deputy Governor to evacuate more than 5000 fowls being run as a poultry business by the Deputy governor in that same place since 2008.
The Deputy Governor has served as the Deputy Governor since 2007. But the state environmental task force claimed that they have the directive to so evacuate the fowls because they constituted environmental hazards to the near-by inhabitants of the deputy governor's residence but the man whose precious business venture is being systematically destroyed and/or evacuated on orders from above, the Deputy governor doubted the genuineness of the reason for the forced evacuation and stated that it was targeted at embarrassing him since according to him he has all the legal papers to operate the poultry in that same venue and wondered why the Chief of Staff is coming up with this strange excuses to humiliate him and belittle his office and to show to the World how so politically impotent he is in the Enugu state political circles.
Whatever is the sincere reason for this sudden collapse of the unity among the political disciples of the Enugu state governor, what is emerging is that the Enugu state governor may be waging a sinister political battle to weaken the position and place of the Deputy governor and to pass a signal indeed an early warning signal to him that he may not likely succeed him in the coming election and by this way the Enugu state governor is simply keeping to the time honoured tradition by incumbent governors who have over the years since 1999 failed to crown their deputies as their successors when their eight year term limit expires. Deputy governors have been described as spare tyres.
My take however is that the Enugu state political establishment headed by Governor Chime should stop waging proxy war against perceived political opponents using 'animal farms' as the battle fields. Animals have rights and should not be on the firing line whenever political wars are to be fought. Governor Chime should call his chief of staff to order and tell her to leave these fowls alone and to face her political opponents squarely. By the way is it not in the place of the state governor to promote agriculture as a business so the thousands of unemployed graduates roaming the streets can embrace it and then reduce the pressure on his government? So why destroy a good business being run by the deputy governor in an attempt to wage political battle? Fowls should not be made to become the collateral damage in this brewing political cold war in Enugu state please.
This brings me to the pending matter we raised in our organization regarding the disagreement between the governor and his now estranged wife [Mrs. Clara Chime] who alleged that the governor locked her up for four months within the confines of the Enugu state government house.
It would be recalled that the human rights platform which yours faithfully heads had, as part of the chain of events marking the celebration of the 2013 World Human Rights Day by the international community last December, called for speed and greater transparency on the part of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the alleged arbitrary detention of the wife of the Enugu state Governor, Mrs. Clara Chime in the confines of a strong room inside the Enugu State Government House, allegedly on the orders of her husband.
The Professors Chidi Odinkalu/ Bem Amgwe-led National Human Rights Commission has demonstrated the will power to handle this petition professionally and effectively and we have no reason to doubt the credibility of this institution to do the needful to help this lady that allegedly went through traumatic experiences in the hands of her husband. She recently appeared on Channels Television to repeat the allegation against her husband -the governor of Enugu state.
Conversely, my group also issued a 21-day ultimatum to Governor Sullivan Chime to, in the meantime, tender a public apology over the horrendous detention and mistreatment of his wife, failing which the Enugu State House of Assembly immediately commences processes of impeaching the governor.
These demands have not been met, despite the depressing narration on a national television network that she was seriously locked up, locked up, and maltreated by Governor Sullivan Chime. The state political establishment are busy engaging in internal quarrels over succession struggle.
It is perfectly timely to condemn in totality the lack of remorse on the part of Governor Sullivan Chime and his failure to tender apology, in the meantime, to Enugu people and Nigerian public over the mistreatment of his wife, disregard for gender equity and Child Rights, and for bringing the Government and people of Enugu national and international ridicule.
What is more shocking is the docility of the Enugu State House of Assembly on the matter. It is regrettable that this House, which should be the people's arm of government and protector of the week and trampled, has not even found this matter worthy of debate or investigation, thus making it very complicit in this sordid impunity.
As I reflect on this proxy war against fowls in Enugu state, may I hereby call on all women societies and indeed the National Council of Women Societies to stand up against the violation of the human rights of Mrs. Clara Chime. An injury to one should be injury to all.
In our last meeting in January 2014 to review this development, we nevertheless, extended the ultimatum to Governor Sullivan Chime by another 21 starting from the expiration of the previous ultimatum to accord Mr. Chime a grace period to do the right thing failing which the State House of Assembly will be called upon to impeach him or face an indefinite mass protest at the Government House, Enugu and the Enugu State House of Assembly Complex.
All the relevant members of the international community- rights groups, foreign government, embassies and high commissions, international development partners, need to take note of the this show of shame and be aware that those who perpetrate or condone this flagrant impunity are security risks and should be treated as such.
On a final note, my appeal is that the Enugu state governor should halt this needless proxy war in which his chief of staff has transferred her aggression to mere animals just so as to get at the deputy governor. Enough of this naked show of power.
+Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria; [email protected]