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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Gov. Chime and the Politics of Forced Endorsement – By Nicholas Ozor



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Those who understand power within the context of democracy know, as Chinua Achebe pens in one of his classics, the “Arrow of God”, that their power is “no more than the power of a child over a goat that was said to be his”. On the day the goat is killed or sold, it would know the rightful owner. That power belongs to the people.
In the novel, Ezeulu is the chief priest of Ulu, the deity of Umuaro. Although he knows that he is “merely a watchman” for the gods, he is obsessed with the immensity of his powers over the lunar year and crop, hence the people. Describing Ezeulu, his main antagonist, Nwaka, says: “A man who carries a deity is not a king. He is there to perform its ritual and to carry sacrifice to it. But …Ezeulu… wants to be king, priest, diviner, all”.
Ezeulu is also a character of pathos. Those whom the gods want to kill, they first make mad. Thus, looking at the chain of events surrounding this tragic hero, I sometimes wonder if the gods themselves did not deliberately goad their chief priest to destruction, perhaps, to punish him and/or teach mortals some lessons in the vanity of power.
Yet, whichever it is, the storyline of Umuaro and Ezeulu playing out in Enugu politics ahead of the 2015 general election does not show that mortals have learnt a thing. The forced endorsements and political impunity being perpetrated by the Governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime and his kitchen cabinet is just like an Ezeulu testing his powers against the will of the people, and perhaps the gods.
Let us rewind to 2013. Governor Chime overreached himself when he decreed that all federal lawmakers from Enugu State doing second tenure and upwards must retire in 2015. This impudence naturally drew public ire as it was generally considered unconstitutional, arrogant, dictatorial, and illogical. Illogical in the sense that Chime who is completing the maximum two terms as governor, would have certainly gone for a third, and even more terms had the constitution permitted. But he does not see the need for himself retire. Instead, he wants these swept away to create space for himself and his cronies to retire to the NASS. This is unjust, selfish, and grossly undemocratic.
Consequently, to assert himself, just like Ezeulu, Chime, working in consonance with Engr. Vita Abba, the State Chairman of the PDP in Enugu who himself has a governorship ambition, has literally brought the Enugu PDP and the state in general under unnecessary tension through his gibberish endorsement project. Worst still, they go about it childishly and stupidly because rather than give Chime any edge, the gale of compelled and fraudulent endorsements expose him as jittery, insecure, unloved, and lacking in true followership. Otherwise, why would a sitting Governor be so panicky about his senatorial ambition as to be literarily chasing Local Council Chairmen and party executives about and threatening them to endorse him and his Chief of staff?
This has also come with a lot of impunities. For visiting former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani and Chime’s godfather who recently rejoined the PDP, several Ward Chairmen and executives were suspended because the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Ifeoma Nwobodo, is running for the senatorial seat, which Nnamani is also eyeing. For reasoning against the hasty and sheepish endorsements; for resisting the attempt to force PDP Chairmen in the five LGAs of Enugu West Senatorial District to sign a document purportedly zoning the senatorial seat from Greater Awgu (Chief Ekweremadu’s area) to Udi/Ezeagu (Chime’s area), the party Chairman in his native Udi LGA, Uchenna Ogbodo, has not been allowed to function. For advising against sponsoring a newspaper advertorial against Chief Ike Ekweremadu by the Awgu LGA chapter of the Governor’s college of political sycophants, a Permanent Secretary in Enugu State, Barrister Eze O. Eze was unceremoniously demoted to a Director. These so-called Stakeholders are given money to place adverts announcing purported endorsements of Chime by LG party executives without even consulting the executives concerned. That was why courageous LG party executives have equally been issuing statements/advertorials denying the whole rubbish. And one hopes that the anti-graft agencies are noting government’s misappropriated spending on this charade.
Meanwhile, the future of our youths and health of our people are also put at risk as the state government has descended on the Ikeoha Foundation, Ekweremadu’s NGO. The Commissioner for Education, Prof. Chris Okoro, has ordered secondary school principals not to release their students to participate in the 2014 edition of Ikeoha Quiz Competition, which has promoted competitive learning for over a decade in the Senatorial District. Winning schools -up to the second runner up- receive instructional and science equipment, while overall winning students who gain admission into higher institutions of learning have always received half a million Naira each.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. George Eze has also stopped the distribution of 20,0000 units of anti-malarial drugs acquired by the Ikeoha Foundation to assist health centres in the area to fight the malaria scourge, the highest killer and bane of infants, nursing and pregnant mothers. All in the name of politics!
The question now is, after all the “yeye” endorsements, what next? Have Chime, Ifeoma Nwobodo and co become PDP flag bearers for the next election? Has that precluded those interested in the seats Chime and company are gunning for from contesting? Has that made them Senators? No. So, this overheating of the Enugu polity serves nothing except the awful showcasing of power drunkenness, foolery, and abundance of poor strategists and bad cooks in Chime’s kitchen cabinet.
Chime is undoubtedly the Governor of Enugu State. But that does not confer on him the powers to expropriate the rights of the Enugu PDP faithful and Enugu people to elect leaders of their choice in a free and fair party primary and general election, respectively. The constitutional powers of the Governor and the State party Chairman is not more than that which a child has over a goat said to be his. Their role is to ensure the welfare of the goat, not to sell or kill it.
This, Chime has failed to appreciate. He has neither lived humbly like a man whose palm kernels were cracked by benevolent spirits nor has he shown gratitude/respect to those the gods used to elevate him. Thus, when one considers his rising impunities and controversies, from the wife incarceration scandal to the destruction of the Deputy Governor’s poultry, I sometimes wonder if the gods are not deliberately goading him on the path of self destruction- Like Ezeulu. Otherwise, why should a Governor be so excessive and reckless with power, arrogating unto himself powers over the destinies of men?
A man who stands against the voice of the people and will of the gods should observe the anus of the proud dog who tried to put off the furnace with his puny fart. Or consider Ezeulu who eventually losses everything that is important to him- his family, his religion, his community (which abandons him), his favourite son (Obika), and ultimately, his sanity. The villagers have no sympathy for him because to them, their god had taken sides with them against his headstrong and ambitious priest, thereby upholding the wisdom of their ancestors- that no man however great was greater than his people.
Nicholas Ozor writes from Awgu, Enugu State

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