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Chime draws battle line

Posted by By STEVE NWOSU on 2008/01/26 | Views: 573 |

Chime draws battle line

Hope of an early truce in the ongoing war between Enugu State governor, Barrister Sullivan Chime, and his predecessor in office, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, appears to have vanished with penultimate Friday ruling of the Enugu State election tribunal that nullified the election of the governor.

Says no peace with Nnamani yet
• ‘It’s an insult to say he installed me’

Hope of an early truce in the ongoing war between Enugu State governor, Barrister Sullivan Chime, and his predecessor in office, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, appears to have vanished with penultimate Friday ruling of the Enugu State election tribunal that nullified the election of the governor.

Even as he says he remains undaunted by the ruling, Chime says he is not in a hurry to negotiate with his believed mentor, Nnamani who was said to be openly celebrating the ‘unfavourable’ verdict.

Until now, the governor had denied that any bad blood existed between him and his predecessor in office who is now a serving senator. Pressed for a comment on the perceived war in an earlier interview with Saturday Sun, Chime had said the fire of discord was being stoked by self-serving allies of the former governor who needed to conjure a fight out of nothing in order to remain relevant – and possibly serve other pecuniary interests.

Speaking with a select team of journalists last weekend, Chime said that if he was, however, under any illusion that Nnamani was not behind the current efforts to sabotage his administration and make the state ungovernable for him, such illusions have since vanished into thin air with what transpired soon after the tribunal ruling.

Barely three hours after the tribunal verdict became public, Nnamani who had largely stayed away from the state since handing over power in May last year, flew into Enugu to celebrate the fall of Chime.
Aides of the incumbent governor said the former governor was popping champagne at his Agbani home with a handful of loyalists.

On why he is not in a hurry for a rapprochement with Nnamani, Chime said that he never really believed that the former governor was at war with him until the Friday incident.
“There was never really any point of disagreement between us. He had never called me to complain about anything… Yes, I never discussed the constitution of my cabinet with him or anybody else, but, out of the 21-member cabinet, only about three members are fresh people brought in by me… The others were persons who either served as advisers or commissioners in his administration… So, even as he was not calling as one would have expected, I did not feel he had any reason to be angry”.

On this score, therefore, he says it would be politically naïve, an amount to surrendering the instrument of state, to approach the ex-governor to make peace and address whatever his grouse is, as such a move, at this particular point in time, would now be seen as having been informed by political desperation on his (the governor’s side) to hang on to power.

I think one should go into such a meeting on a level ground so we can discuss on level terms and it would not be as though anybody is begging anybody”, he reasoned, adding that his focus for now is to ensure that the regime of security of lives and property that has been put in place since the last seven months is not reversed to the pre-May 29, 2007 days.

Chime also denies the allegation that he was behind Nnamani’s present travails in the hands of the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“It is most preposterous to allege that it was Chime who squealed on the former governor to the EFCC. The truth is that the EFCC has not visited since Chime took over”, the governor confirmed to Saturday Sun, adding that whatever. “The EFCC is using against him was obtained before he left office”.

Confirming this position soon after the chat, an aide of the governor said: “As someone who served in Nnamani’s government and who is now in possession of all the relevant documents, Chime is in a position to make Nnamani’s case at the EFCC a lot messier than it already is, but he is not doing that”.

Although Chime feels strongly that the Appeal Court would rule in his favour and over-rule the tribunal, he says he is not afraid of fresh election, boasting that he would repeat the feat that gave him a near landslide victory last April.
“That is why I feel insulted when people say I was installed by Nnamani... I did not just drop from the sky. I have a pedigree. I was, and I am still, hugely popular among our people.”

He said that the problem might be that people expected him to run the type of administration that Nnamani ran, to sustain the level of insecurity and continue to alienate all the political elders and founding fathers of the state that were hounded out of the state by the past regime.
“But my belief is that even if all these people do not share the same political convictions with me, they mean as well for Enugu as I do and have one or two things to contribute to towards the positive development of the state. They all have to be brought on board at whatever level possible.”
He said he was sure that the increasing support the people of the state are giving him is informed by the fact that “there are several things I am doing differently and they are not comfortable with it”.
“I can’t be like Nnamani”, Chime restated.

My priority
Restating his commitment to ensuring that Enugu finally begins to actually work, Chime said that his priority is to fix the decaying infrastructure of the state. “Road, electricity and supply of potable water remain my priority”.
According to him, the work on the intra-city roads had to be suspended as a result of the rains. “And now that the rains have stopped, we have returned to site. Come to Enugu in another two or three months and you will see the difference”, he boasted, pointing out that the contracts for most of the key roads have been awarded and work has already started on most of them.
However, Chime insists he is not disposed to undone advertising projects in the media: “we don’t have to be the ones telling you that Enugu is working, you would just come to Enugu and see that it is working.

Corruption in government
On how he intends to tackle corruption in government, in view of what the EFCC has been unearthing about the conducts of past governors, Chime says he intents “to lead by example”.
“If I award a contract without as much as personally getting to know the contractor, let alone demanding anything from him, chances are that when he fails to deliver, I can call him to order. If I don’t compromise myself with my commissioners and aides, then I would be in a position to fire them when they begin to play pranks with their contractors.

Problem with PDP
I have no problem with my party, and as I speak now, I have not received any summons from the National Working Committee to appear before it”, the governor said
He, however, said he was not bothered by reports that the party was trying to drop him in the event of fresh election in the state.

According to him, the tribunal ruling was on the conduct of the election and not the process of the emergence of the candidates. He said that the substitution of candidates was no longer possible.
But even as he was yet to receive any formal invitation, Chime said the party remained supreme in matters of this nature and that he was still going to show up at the NWC meeting, just in case an invitation was sent and it did not get to him. He said he also intended to investigate the origin of the reports that he had been summoned; if indeed he was not summoned.

He said although it was not unlikely that a few people within the state party were trying to cause confusion by evoking the awe of the NWC, the PDP in Enugu remained united behind him and is solidly with him in his appeal to revert the tribunal ruling that nullified his election.

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