For me, I think in the final analysis the buck stops at the table of the state’s House of Assembly. The other day the lawmakers threatened to move against Chime by impeaching him if he does not return home. I think the time for such threats has passed. This is the time to act now
Two weeks ago in my take on the issue of the prolonged absence of Enugu State Governor Sullivan Chime from the state, I had invited the state House of Assembly to invoke the provision of Section 190 sub section 2 of the 1999 Constitution “if we have a President Yar’Adua type situation in the state”. My attention has since been drawn to a so-called lacuna in the law: the law talks about transferring power to the deputy governor in acting capacity if the governor is away for more than 21 days without transmitting a letter notifying the state House of Assembly of his absence, but it fails to address the question of how long the governor could be away without losing his seat so long as he transmits a letter on his absence.
As I indicated in that piece, yes, Governor Chime duly handed over to his deputy, Sunday Onyebuchi, before leaving the country mid-September for a six-week vacation. But its now about 14 weeks and Chime has not returned to the country. Though Onyebuchi is acting, the state assembly is yet to pass a resolution appointing him as acting governor. Also, the state government is yet to say anything about the governor’s state of health or whereabouts, though he is said to be receiving medical attention in an Indian hospital. It is doubtful, however, if Onyebuchi is actually in charge as some hawks around Chime are reportedly blocking him from fully exercising the powers of the office.
But if Section 190 does not address the matter conclusively, what about Section 189 on incapacity? Section 189 in respect of governor and deputy governor and Section 144 for president and vice-president). Section 189 (1) states that, “The Governor or Deputy Governor of a state shall cease to hold office if (a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all members of the Executive Council of the state, it is declared that the Governor or Deputy Governor is incapable of discharging the functions of the office; and (b) the declaration in paragraph (a) of this sub section is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under sub section (4) of this section in its report to the Speaker of the House of Assembly.”
I agree the processes involved here seem cumbersome because before the declaration of incapacity could be so made, a panel of medical experts has to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, which will comprise five medical practitioners including a personal physician of the affected governor or deputy governor to certify that the governor or deputy is indeed suffering from such problem that renders him incapable of discharging the functions of his office. More importantly, which member of the state executive council, which commissioner would initiate such a resolution even if he or she is aware the governor is seriously sick and unable to continue to discharge the functions of his office.
Which executive council would pass the resolution when the members concerned are all appointed by the governor. The country was faced with this dilemma at the height of the medical problem of the late President Yar’Adua. And as it turned out that the route could not be taken as it was difficult for Yar’Adua’s cabinet to initiate or agree to initiate the process. In the case of Enugu, this will also be pretty difficult as the commissioners still owe allegiance to Chime, and in fact are said not to take orders from Onyebuchi.
For me, I think in the final analysis the buck stops at the table of the state’s House of Assembly. The other day the lawmakers threatened to move against Chime by impeaching him if he does not return home. I think the time for such threats has passed. This is the time to act now. The assembly members should do the needful today. The governor and his handlers have taken the lawmakers and the people of the state for a ride enough.
PDP e-Registration of Members
I had a good laugh recently when I glimpsed reports in some newspapers on the move by the Peoples Democratic Party to embark on e-registration of members and computerisation of party membership. The move was said to be part of resolutions reached at the recent retreat of PDP national leaders in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital. According to the reports, the reason behind the idea is the need to sanitise party membership to ensure transparency in its electoral processes. Good idea you might say. But I guess it is targeted at the PDP governors, targeted at whittling down their hold on the party. I laughed because for the plan powered by the PDP National Working Committee to be successful, the party’s governors must buy into it and support the policy. Will they back the plan? I doubt it. A similar plan to carry out-e-registration of party members in 2011 before the presidential primaries had collapsed like a pack of cards even after President Jonathan had signed up to it and had even been registered at the Presidential Villa with funfair. I support the move to cut the governors to size and give the powers back to the party leaders as we experienced it in the Second Republic but I’m at a loss too how this can happen with the powers of patronage, powers to make or mar in the hands of our chief state executives with which they anoint and control state chairmen and by extension the party and the grassroots.
Rochas Okorocha’s Absurd Holiday
For the second time in about two months, I have found myself talking about Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, and for the wrong reasons. The other day it was on his warped idea of governance. He created a fourth tier of government, which he called community government, when the third tier, the local councils, is still under threat of sort in the state as he has refused to heed the directive of the court to reinstate the elected chairmen. This time round, the governor has slammed a two-week holiday on the state in celebration of Christmas and New Year. What a warped (oh that word again) sense of celebration is this. A two-week holiday where three days would do methinks is a disservice to the enterprising spirit of the people of Imo and Ndigbo in general. If Okorocha needed a holiday, he should have taken one, handed over to his deputy and embarked on a do-nothing trip. He should have spared the people the agony a long unplanned holiday can create. The baffling thing about Okorocha is many of us expected so much from him rather than all these absurd and warped ideas and policies. Is Okorocha actually prepared for this exalted office? I don think so.