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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Hurricane Chime: Another Okwomma Masquerade on Rampage – By Okwudili Edeh



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The former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani was so power-drunk in his heydays in power that he came down so hard on every real and imagined political opponent. His nightmarish regime saw to the demolition, clearing, and conversion of opponents’ buildings to refuse dumps overnight. It was so bad that the inimitable Louis Odion had in a 12th June 2005 piece entitled Finally, the Okwomma Masquerade on Rampage, likened him to the Okwomma Masquerade.
For non-Igbos and the uninitiated, Okwomma is a fierce machete-wielding masquerade in Igbo land. Okwomma is so notorious for its belligerence, energy, and ferociousness that it always has a rope or chain tied around its waist and handed to an able-bodied man among the masqueraders to restrain it from inflicting excesses pains on the members of the public. As long as it is restrained, it can be a source of entertainment for the onlookers. Anytime Okwomma goes out of control, both the public and his followers are always in trouble, for it inflicts machete cuts on anybody within reach.
However, those who thought that the Okwomma tendencies had ended with Chimaroke era have since discovered to their chagrin the wisdom of the French were dead right when they said that “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. Governor Chime had since caught the bug. Hardly a month passes without the governor making the headline and newspaper editorials for the wrong reasons.
In the last six months alone, Sullivan Okwomma Chime has been unleashing terror on every thing in sight. He demolished the Mountain of Fire and Miracle church building without following due process. I would not have been on the side of the church if the building were not duly approved by the government of the time.
Before the rivers of tears and sorrows could dry up, the Chime vs. Clara saga broke out. By the time the smoke cleared, it emerged that a state governor in 21st century Nigeria actually locked up his wife in a room in the Lion Building like a common criminal. Her sin? She only complained that Chime should behave like a married man, since all the small-small thing he was alleged to be running after in Sokoto were right in his shokoto. But as far as Chime is concerned, women are to be seen and enjoyed, but never to be heard. His defence was that his estranged wife had mental problem that necessitated the conversion of the Enugu Government House to a mental home. It took public outcry, human rights community, the Inspector-General of Police, and Dame Patience Jonathan to let the woman free.
Thank God the woman has returned after a medical examination in London and cleared her name. She told reporters that she “suffered from depression and the treatment I got from my husband led to it”. Well, which woman would live with an Okwomma and suffer depression? Imagine a Nigerian woman feeling, in Clara’s words “now liberated” from affluence and influence.
Currently, the governor’s Udi LGA homestead is up in flames of political attrition over 2015. While Chime’s Umuneke kindred are kicking against his senatorial ambition, the desperate bid by the Governor and his musketeers to crush party executives in his Enugu west senatorial zone that could torpedo his senatorial ambition, beginning with Uche Ogbodo, Chairman of PDP in his native Udi LGA boomeranged, leading to the suspension of his Secretary to State Government, two commissioners, and some Special Advisers (all from Udi) by the embattled Chairman.
Before Enugu could spell Aneke Achime (special brand of palm wine named after the governor’s late father), Sullivan came down hard on the poultry farm of his Deputy, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi. The government claimed that the Deputy was forewarned to relocate his 3,000-bird farm, as it constituted environmental nuisance.
However, reading through the written reply by the Office of the Deputy Governor makes it clear who is petty and playing god. Excerpts: “Just to put the records straight, His Excellency has asked me to inform you that the said poultry is operated within a section of the Deputy Governor’s residence designated and fenced out as Agriculture Unit – same as the Agric Unit of the Government House where a bigger poultry farm, a piggery and a ranch exist. The structure for the said poultry farm was inherited by His Excellency from his predecessors in office who also used same for the same purpose. His Excellency has operated the same poultry farm since 2008 with technical support from ENADEP and Commercial Agriculture Programme of the State Ministry of Agriculture. There is no record of a letter from you to His Excellency, bringing to his attention, complaint of any environmental or health hazard from the said poultry since 2008. This is because there is none. The poultry is operated within the best international practices.  His Excellency’s members of staff are living in the Boy’s Quarter, just meters away from the poultry and they have not complained of any inconvenience since 2008.
It is also good to know that while Chime commenced renovation work on the Governor’s Lodge in 2011 and completed it almost immediately, renovation work on the Deputy Governor’s Lodge started at the same time was abandoned, forcing his deputy to operate from a private home somewhere in Enugu. He does not deserve safety and comfort. Now he is robbed of his only share in the Government House.
Now, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi’s case is even worse than that of a spare tyre.  Spare tyres are accommodated in the car boot at least, but Onyebuchi had since been systematically and totally expelled from the precincts of the Government House. Of course, he also never part of the chop-I-chop, one of the main attractions of politics in our clime. Now that his means of sustenance is gone, Onyebuchi has been left empty-handed like the biblical Aaron.
Our fear in Enugu is that with the ferocious Lady Okwomma in the person of Chief of Staff, Ifeoma Nwobodo beating the drum, Enugu is in for more troubles. Woe to you, O Coal City State, for the Okwomma has come down to you in great fury. Oga Jonathan, Enugu State is overdue for a Military JTF on Okwomma before more harm is done.
Okwudili writes from Achara Layout, Enugu

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