On September 27, 2012, the governor of Enugu State, Barrister Sullivan Chime, left the state, ostensibly to spend his accumulated leave abroad. The argument by his spin doctors then was that since he assumed office as governor in 2007, he hadn't gone on holiday. So, he needed time to rest.
After some time, palpable apprehension became evident when the holiday became endless and speculations were rife that he was indeed ill. The smart lawyer he is, he had, before jetting out of the country, transmitted the instruments of power to his deputy who has been holding the fort.
As a public officer of such high standing, his whereabouts at any point in time ought to be of public interest. If he is ill, his constituents have a right to know. His prolonged absence and the reticence of government officials are not helping matters because such attitude is beginning to create needless anxiety.
And this has paved the way for rumour-mongering. Is he in the United States of America, the United Kingdom or, as is strongly believed, in India? If he is indeed ill, what is the nature of the ailment? Hugo Chavez has cancer and he always tells Venezuelans. Mrs Hillary Clinton was in hospital for blood clot, Americans were told. So, what is the matter with Chime. Where is he?
It is not enough to say that his absence has not affected governance. That is beside the point. And that is the issue raised by the Enugu Development Association (EDA) recently. EDA is a gathering of the uppermost class of Enugu indigenes. If they are saying they don't know where Chime is, then, something is wrong somewhere. Instead of addressing this, the government in Enugu is indulging in disinformation.
When LEADERSHIP raised the issue of Chime's whereabouts in its January 2 edition, the powers that be in the state, to make sure the people are denied information about the disappearance of the man they queued up in the sun to elect, mopped up every available copy sent to that state for circulation and destroyed them.
The leader of EDA, Enechi Onyia, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is leading a delegation to the acting governor to find out the truth about Chime. We urge him to ask pertinent questions about the state of health of the governor. They have a right to know. The people of Enugu are beginning to demand that the governor be declared incapacitated and therefore not able to function in the office of the governor.
Also, another section is urging the House of Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against him. All these would have been unnecessary if the government of Enugu State had taken the people into confidence. We are persuaded to remind the authorities that governors don't just disappear.
Keeping quiet and hoping that matters would simply fade away is, to say the least, reprehensible and irresponsible. The acting governor should, as a matter of urgency, address the state on this matter of Chime's absence and save the people of further embarrassment.