The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State Thursday dismissed speculations that a major political crisis is currently brewing in the state following the prolonged absence of Governor Sullivan Chime from the state for almost four months.
The party assured Enugu State indigenes that the governor will soon be back to the state, but could not give a specific date of time frame for his return.
This is coming even as the Save Enugu Group (SEG), an association of prominent citizens of the state equally claimed to has begun to pressure the National Assembly to take over the functions of the Enugu State House of Assembly, if it fails to invoke the necessary sections of the constitution to resolve the growing impasse over the continued and unexplained absence of the governor.
But in a statement signed by the chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Vita Abba, the party pleaded with the people of the state to exercise patience and not allow themselves to be drawn into the controversy assuring that before long, the whole picture would not only be made clear but that the governor would return to the state hale and hearty.
“We are therefore requesting for patience, support and understanding as the government of Enugu State under the Acting Governor, Sunday Onyebuchi, is doing its utmost best to satisfy the yearning of our people by providing the needed democracy dividends. It is worthy of note that despite the absence of the governor, various developmental projects worth billions of naira in the area of roads, water supply, electricity, education, health, housing among others are in progress.
“The State Executive Council under the Acting Governor had awarded several contracts running into billions of naira and such projects are ongoing,” he noted.
The party used the opportunity to advise members of the Save Enugu Group, not to take laws into their hands, but to allow the state House of Assembly to take a position on the matter.
“For a group of people to threaten to take the laws into their hands if the governor did not return to the state smacks of ignorance, knowing fully that there is a properly constituted House of Assembly and other arms of government saddled with the responsibilities of taking action in any event of this nature,” he stated.
“Since the inception of the PDP-led government of Sullivan Iheanacho Chime in 2007, we have had challenges and tribulations. The first was when we lost at the lower Election Tribunal. To the good people of the state, it seemed then that the world had come to an end but by the grace of God we overcame.
“In the recent past, during the 2011 elections, the PDP government under Sullivan Chime was brought to its knees during the tenure of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo as national chairman of PDP. Through prayers, tremendous goodwill and call for justice by the people of Enugu State, we also overcame.
“Now, the governor’s vacation has brought another challenge to our government. I expect that the good people of Enugu State and Nigeria at large should live up to the challenge once more believing that the governor will soon return to continue with his good works in the state.
“We are not unaware that the recent development has given room for the opposition to go back to the trenches and have even gone to the extent of pronouncing the governor dead, in coma, incapacitated and what have you, he further noted.
On their part, the SEG in a statement by one of its conveners and National Secretary of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Willy Ezeugwu, warned that it will not give up on its demand for a clear disclosure of the whereabouts of the governor noting that its plan to occupy Lion Building and compel the state House of Assembly to act could leave the state lawmakers unable to perform their duties hence the need for the National Assembly to step in.
The statement frowned on the derision with which the letter the group wrote to the Acting Governor, Sunday Onyebuchi, was treated.
It said the description of the letter written to the Acting Governor as a non-issue by Chukwudi Achife, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Chime is a confirmation that there is something fishy about the governor’s absence.
“Concerns are being expressed by some members of Chime’s cabinet about the magnitude of looting going on in the governor’s absence while those who have no direct mandate from the people have reportedly hijacked governance in the state because the governor failed to honour the constitution by formally handing over to his deputy.” SEG said.
“The State House of Assembly must perform its duty since those in the executive arm are playing ostrich. Our demands have not changed. The Assembly should cause the executive arm to make a categorical explanation on the whereabouts and status of our Governor His Excellency Sullivan Iheanacho Chime.
“It should also constitute a delegation which should include eminent Enugu State sons and daughters like, Bishop Callistus Onaga Catholic Bishop of Enugu, Rev. Hyde Onuauluchi, Prof. Bart Nnaji, Igwe Paul Egbogu, Chief Mrs Grace Obayi, Chief Nduka Eya Secretary General Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo, Dr. Louis Anya Chukwuma etc, to pay a visit to the governor wherever he is, and report back to the good people of the state,” the group demanded.
According to the group, what is at stake is the wellbeing of the four million people of Enugu state and not the personal interest of SEG or its leaders as the cronies of the governor want Nigerians to believe.
The group has also in another letter formally alerted the Enugu State Development Association (ESDA), a body of the state founding fathers of its demand from the State Acting Governor. The group also complained about the deep concern of the people of the state and the shabby way their concern was not only received and treated with ignominy but that members of the group were also derided in “unparliamentary languages”.