Nicholas Ozor: Uche Ezechukwu and Enugu chicken impeachment
The most recent of Uche Ezechukwu’s meddlesomeness in Enugu politics entitled “Enugu: How Not to be a Deputy Governor” (Daily Sun, August 11, 2014) is not only another futile attempt to twist facts, but it also finally gives the writer away as a kabukabu columnist who has no regard whatsoever for facts, ethics, and professionalism.
Typical of a native doctor who engages in lengthy, superfluous incantations to justify the chickens and cowries he collected from his client, Ezechukwu laboured hard, literally beating about the bush all in a failed attempt to justify the ongoing chicken impeachment in Enugu.
However, no one who has followed Ezechukwu’s antecedents in relation to Enugu politics in the past few years could have expected anything less. Ezechukwu has always sheepishly justified even the most stupid and ruthless actions and decrees of emperor Sullivan Chime and empress Ifeoma Nwobodo, the Governor’s Chief of Staff. It is a case of the sheep (the pigs’ propaganda machine) in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.
For instance, Chime decreed last year that “Enugu, being a poverty stricken state, membership of the National Assembly should be seen as a ‘Poverty Alleviation Programme’’’. Amidst the opprobrium generated by this heresy, Ezechukwu was quick to publish a hatchet piece in the Daily Sun of August 11, 2014 titled “A Scapegoat for Political Desperados”. Therein, he not only rambled on to justify Chime’s unpopular stance, but also adduced reasons why Ifeoma Nwobodo and Sullivan Chime’s “abject poverty” can only be alleviated in the Senate.
Now, to his lies and distortion of facts. First, he claimed that Sunday Onyebuchi “disobeyed the directives of the governor, conveyed through a letter to him, to relocate a commercial poultry, which he was operating at his official quarters at the Government House…and had instead gone ahead to disregard a reminder, leading to the poultry being removed by the relevant organs of the state.”
There are too many holes here. One, although the Governor’s Chief of Staff wrote two letters to Onyebuchi, the first letter dated 24th December 2013 with reference No. GHE/CAO/31/239 and the second letter dated 27 December 2013 with reference No. GHE/CAO/31/240 and headed “Final Notice/Request to Stop or relocate the Commercial Poultry Farm in Official Residence” were delivered on December 27, 2013. This in itself speaks volumes.
Nevertheless, Onybuchi replied the letters. For instance, contrary to the claim in Ifeoma’s letter dated December 24, which Ezechukwu is propagating, that Onyebuchi had “erected or built or permitted to be erected or built commercial poultry farm…contrary to the Statutory Certificate of Occupancy purpose clause”, part of Onyebuchi’s explanation was that “there is no such certificate of occupancy in existence in respect of the Deputy Governor’s official residence”.
He further explained that the poultry structures in the Deputy Governor’s Lodge, just as the one in the Governor’s Lodge, was actually built by Dizengorf WA Limited along with the entire Government House during the late Chief M. I. Okpara regime. It is also designated “Farm Unit”. All of Chime and Onyebuchi’s predecessors have always made use of these poultry structures. Even Chime himself, as the Deputy Governor explained, runs a piggery, poultry, and cattle ranch in the Government House. Onyebuchi was still expecting response to his replies when the Government swooped on his poultry in Gestapo style and carted away 3,000 birds.
It is important to inform Nigerians that the Governor’s poultry, etc were only cleared in the wee hours of Monday, August 11, 2014 ahead of a possible visit by the investigative panel and media opprobrium that Chime is guilty of the same “offence” he preferred against his Deputy.
Furthermore, Ezechukwu lied that Onyebuchi “had flagrantly fallen foul of the law of the State, which he was well aware”. The House of Assembly only accused the Deputy Governor of flouting a House Resolution, not a law. Even at that, the Deputy Governor clarified to them that “No mention was made of any resolution of the Enugu State House of Assembly prohibiting the maintenance and operation of a poultry farm within residential neighborhoods in Enugu metropolis” Ifeoma Nwoodo’s letters.
As a matter of fact, the indolent Enugu State House of Assembly passed its first Private Member Bill since 1999 in June this year. Besides, resolutions of the National or State Assemblies do not carry the force of law, although it is democratic norm to respect them.
Meanwhile, it is surprising Ezechukwu did not know that the allegations that Onyebuchi failed to represent the Governor at the Flag off of the 2nd Niger Bridge had since been proven by television reports like AIT as well as video exhibits before the Assembly and the impeachment panel to be untrue. In fact, as it turned out during cross-examination, it was actually the Chief of Protocol, Enugu Government House, Barr. Emeka Asogwa, that was not at the event!
Regarding the alleged failure of Onyebuchi to represent the Governor at the South East Governor’s meeting, cross-examination also unmasked the truth. Asogwa confessed that he delivered between 11pm and 11:30pm on the night of July 5, the manifest conveying the Governor’s directive that Onyebuchi should represent him at an event billed for July 6. He claimed that he delivered it through the security man at the Onyebuchi’s private residence in town (Chime has been “renovating” the Deputy Governor’s Lodge since 2012 and no one pays Onyebuchi any accommodation allowance in lieu!). Having delivered at such short notice, the Chief of Protocol did not also deem it necessary to call the Deputy Governor to confirm that he got the document.
Furthermore, Ezechukwu lied that Onyebuchi visited Chime overseas during his 4-month illness “after which the deputy might have imagined that Chime’s case was beyond redemption”. He said Onyebuchi “started prevailing on the Chief of Staff to allow him unbridled access to the security vote”. What he forgot to add was that Chime deceived Enugu and Nigerians for those 4 months that he was “enjoying” an “accumulated leave”.
It is on record that the Deputy Governor was hardly ever allowed to talk to the Governor on phone, let alone visit him. Let him provide the dates and evidences. The tale on security vote is likewise a fallacy. In any case, Section 190 empowers a Deputy Governor to take over the reins of power in acting capacity in the event that the Governor is absent or unable to perform his/her duties for 21 days. It is therefore outrageous to now learn that Chime and Ifeoma Nwobodo were running the state and “administering” security votes running into billions of naira from his sick bed for 3 months (that is minus the first 21 days) that he was constitutionally ineligible to do so. It even contradicts the lies by the Governor’s kitchen cabinet at the time that Chime handed over to his Deputy.
Today, many blame Onyebuchi and even refuse to come to his rescue because they believe he wasn’t politically savvy during Chime’s sickness like his Taraba counterpart. They say it was a mark of total weakness or excess humility and loyalty to have remained calm while Ifeoma Nwobodo ran the show even after 21 days of Chime’s absence. It is therefore preposterous for Ezechukwu to clamour for Onyebuchi’s impeachment on the grounds of disloyalty. “Disloyalty” is not even a ground for impeachment in the 1999 Constitution. We have seen in some states like Sokoto where deputies refused to defect to other parties with their Governors. Yet no one has impeached them for “disloyalty”.
In all, Ezechukwu’s analysis were knock-kneed, his arguments anti-facts, and his prescriptions a pot of deadly political Ebola virus that can only be found in Anamabra politics; he should not infect Enugu polity with it. Even if this chicken impeachment succeeds, it is not because Sunday Onyebuchi has committed any impeachable offence or done something worse than a governor who locked up his wife in the Government House for months, but because, as the scriptures say, “a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just” (Exodus 23:8). It hasn’t also been an easy ride as Chime’s camp had anticipated.
Ozor writes from Enugu