ENUGU IMPEACHMENT: Seed Of Discord For Next Government
Enugu governor, Sullivan Chime will be former governor. A new administration will mount the saddle in the state.
This is because he (Chime) will be completing his eight years in office on that day and will be handing over to a new governor in line with the constitution.
In the same guise, House of Assembly Speaker, Eugene Odo will no longer be speaker.
He will also not return to the House of Assembly, as he did not re-contest the Igboetiti state constituency seat, which he is occupying at the moment.
He has also held this position in the last eight years and remains one of the longest serving speakers produced by the state.
To join Chime and Odo are some members of the House of Assembly who are part of the 15 out of the 24 lawmakers that served impeachment notice on Governor Chime. They include; Okechukwu Nwoke (Igboetiti west), Micheal Onyeze, (Igboeze north 1) Anichukwu John (Nkanu East). Theresa Egbo (Enugu south rural) Chika Eneh (Udi south)and Paul Ogbeh (Enugu south urban) The only eight that will be returning from the G-15 include House leader, Sunday Ude Okoye (Awgu north ) Ikechukwu Ezeugwu ( Udenu) Elochukwu Ugwueze (Igboeze south) Iloabuchi Aniagu( Nkanu west) Mathias Ekweremadu (Aninri) Anthony Ogidi (Igboeze north 2) Dame Nkechi Omeje (Nsukka west) and Nelson Uduji (Awgu south). On the side of the group of nine lawmakers that resisted the impeachment of Chime, only seven of them will be returning, including Deputy Leader, John Ukuta, (Uzouwani) Chinedu Nwamba (Nsukka east) Donatus Uzogbado (Oji river), Edward Mbosi (Enugu east urban) , Joseph Ugwumba (Enugu east rural) Emeka Ogbuador (Isiuzo) and Johnbull Nwagu (Udi north) .
Of the other two, Deputy Speaker, Chime Oji (Enugu north) will be going to the House of Representatives to represent Enugu north and south federal constituency, while Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo (Ezeagu) has been elected as the Deputy Governor.
But will the exit of these men from government end the crisis at the House of Assembly? This seems to be the big question for now. The question arose from the way both men (Chime and Odo) have held the forth in the state.
While Odo has led the House of Assembly peacefully for about eight years, Chime on the other hand has run the government of the state for the same period. The implication is that they have admirers at the State Assembly. This could also be seen from the impeachment move that caused division among the lawmakers in the state.
The G-15 led by Odo had on May 4, accused Governor Chime of financial misappropriation and directed the Clerk of the House, Christopher Chukwurah to serve impeachment notice signed by 14 of the members on the governor.
They accused him of forging the 2012 Supplementary budget to the tune of N12 billion. Other impeachable offenses listed against the governor included; allegation of inflation of state secretariat complex contract from N13billion to N21billion without recourse to the House of Assembly as well as preventing his aides and other appointees from responding to summons by the House to clear issues bothering on governance in the state.
Chime had during interaction with Journalists denied forging the 2012 appropriation, but was silent on the alleged inflation of secretariat building contract awarded to Arab Contractors, as well as preventing his aides from responding to the lawmakers.
He repeatedly said the lawmakers had embarked on a voyage that would take them to nowhere, stressing that by the time they must have gone through the process required to impeach a governor, he would have left government house.
He attributed the development to his inability to meet the financial demands, which the House leadership requested to enable them pass the N11 billion loan he had sort from the bank.
However, since his denial and the move to impeach him were made, the State Assembly has remained under lock and key with Police occupying the entrances, allegedly on the orders of the governor and ensuring that none of the factions of the lawmakers has access into it.
The Odo led faction, apparently to show that it was not in for child’s play had last week gone to the Federal High Court, Enugu and obtained an interim order restraining the Police from occupying the premises of the House of Assembly.
The order also barred the Police from harassing the Speaker or members of his faction, even as it empowered them to carry on with their legitimate duties. The order till date has not been obeyed as the chief security officer to the House of Assembly, a police officer whose name was given as Ali said to be in possession of the keys claims to be waiting for directive from police hierarchy to reopen the place.
Although there might be no other sitting of the House members, perhaps until a new government and new crop of legislators come into office and the fact that the impeachment may not be realizable, the question on the lips of many presently is whether the issue would linger.
Many believe that the issues thrown up would linger beyond the administration, especially with certain interests from residents who have vowed to challenge the matter either in court or at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Beyond the facade of petitions to EFCC and courts, it would appear however that the division in the House may rub off on the next set of lawmakers, expected to come into office next week.
Impeccable sources told the Guardian that already, what seems like horse-trading has started along that line aimed at securing juicy offices at the State Assembly.
Chime and Odo may have also realized this and each is working very hard to ensure they don’t lose out at the end of the day.
On his side, Odo has continued to enjoy the confidence and support of his faction, ensuring that none of them abandons the struggle even when he must have left.
Chime on his own knows that whatever may happen when he is out of office might be handled effectively by the lawmakers, depending on the relationship he has established with them and is alleged to have taken further steps outside keeping the lawmakers out of the Assembly chambers to start a new relationship.
On Wednesday, it was learnt that he (the governor) had called a meeting of the group of nine lawmakers with the newly elected members of the House of Assembly. The meeting said to have held in government house, sources said was to enable the governor consolidate his hold on the crisis and ensure that whatever may have been raised by some members of the House is not taken further.
A source at the meeting told the Guardian that the governor had asked lawmakers to work together, knowing where they were coming from, adding that he worked assiduously to ensure that each of them emerged from the party.
The governor was said to have reminded them of the need to ensure that they protected each other, adding that they should ensure that “none of the eight returning members among the G-15 that recently served impeachment notice on him is supported for appointment into any of the principal offices of the House.”
“He said they are the people who kicked against his move to get the N11billion loan. That they went further to begin to discuss how to humiliate and impeach him from office. He said they betrayed the confidence he reposed on them when after refusing the loan went about discussing other issues, which his administration seems to have forgotten,” the source alleged.
Pundits who have watched the latest development believe that the governor might want to have a hand in the election of principal officers of the House, apparently following his conviction that it would be a huge political gain for him, especially over several other allegations against him in the state.
Again, unlike his contemporaries who would after leaving office move to the Senate, he will have to remain out of politics, following his inability to secure the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Enugu West senatorial zone, which he indicated interest. Irrespective of the division however, sources said the headship of the House would come from Enugu East senatorial zone since the governor-elect is coming from Enugu north and Deputy from Enugu West. Chime is from the West.
Those affected here are those from Enugu north, Enugu South, Enugu East, Isiuzo, Nkanu West and Nkanu East local governments. The permutation here is that since experience and perhaps merit could count in deciding the next Speaker after Odo, the returning members representing Enugu east urban, Enugu East rural and Isiuzo appear to be in the best bet of Chime.
Odo’s faction will have returning members from Awgu north, Awgu south and Nkanu West.
One of the returning lawmakers told the Guardian: “If we go by what we heard or know from that meeting, it means that we would have sown a seed of discord quite early in the coming administration of the state. It means that the lawmakers would have started working differently to protect their interests and that may not be good for the development and progress of this state.”
He noted that what the G-15 had done was “simply part of the constitutional duties to protect democracy and rule of law,” adding that, it was left for whoever that was affected to make the necessary amends so that Enugu will continue to enjoy the peace and stability it was noted for.
A PDP stalwart, Jerry Onah said there was need to avoid any infiltration of the division of the present state Assembly into the oncoming one, despite having its old members as part of it.
“I believe that what democracy has brought is that different arms of government worked together for common good. These legislators raised an issue that would have consumed the entire state if they had closed their eyes to it. We say that government is continuum and in that regard, if an outgoing administration believes it does not have resources to complete what it started; the right thing is to pass the bulk to incoming administration. It is wrong to insist on doing whatever you think you can do as leader of a state,” he stated.
The way the entire thing is playing out, it is most likely that governor-elect, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi may be disposed to an experienced lawmaker who may not have been very much involved in the crisis at the State Assembly to lead the would be law makers when inaugurated. The point, however, is that should he pander towards the G-9, (which of course enjoys the support of his deputy, Ezeilo), that may on the long run negatively affect whatever misgivings anybody may have against Chime.
On the other hand, if he panders towards the remnants of the G-15 lawmakers, that could be a strong signal that he supported their move to expose outgoing governor Chime. There are suggestions however that he (Ugwuanyi) should ensure peace among the members and perhaps, guide them into leaving out whatever contentions that caused the division.
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