An unimpressive story about the yet to be functional Enugu Diagnostic Center surfaced recently, where the uninformed writer tried without success to paint a picture of former Governor Sullivan Chime being solely responsible for the inconclusive medical facility.
The story would have made better reading if the author had blamed Mr Chime for anticipating a time like this when coronavirus pandemic will ravage the world and the Enugu diagnostic centre would be the facility of importance, yet he refused to equip the centre for use.
Today the World Health Organisation has chosen Ebonyi state to site the Southeast screening centre for Coronavirus because of the existing virology centre in Abakaliki that compares less to the Enugu Diagnostic centre if it was functional at this time.
Unfortunately, that was not the focus of the article; instead, the story was an orchestrated mudslinging, intended for mischief and self-service. On the contrary, the author exposed idiocy and premeditated attack with no potent weapon.
It would be needless, replying the hatchet writer on points of misinformation he dished out, but in setting the records straight, the contract for the building of the edifice was revoked twice because of the perfectionist inclination of Mr Sullivan Chime, who wanted the best state of the art centre.
Till date, the Chime administration has remained a reference point in Nigeria, when an international organization in 2014 recognized Enugu as the only Nigerian city among 35 cities invited to join the 100 Resilient Cities Network (100RC) pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, New York, USA.
Investigative journalism would have revealed that Chime maintained assigning duties to appropriate ministries or agencies, particularly on the award of contracts. Throughout his period, Chime maintained use of the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure for awards of associated jobs which the Enugu diagnostic centre was one of them. This method detached Chime from taking interests of contractors.
If proper research was done, the author would have known that at the time the first contract was awarded for construction of the diagnostic centre, Sullivan Chine had not met Mrs Clara Chime, let alone marrying her and subsequent award of a contract to whom the author concluded was his in-law.
Outrageously, the mischievous storey inferred that the contract was initially awarded at the cost of N1 billion whereas it was less than half of the bogus amount erroneously reported. The contract was terminated because the contractor requested for a review of the contract and jerked the contract sum to the tune of over N900m. It was terminated on the grounds that the contractor came for review of the contract when the duration for completion of the project was well over, yet there was not much significant job for the contractor to shamelessly request for contract variation.
Arab Contractors that finally completed the structural works of the centre that was found dependable in other jobs the company handled in the state that included roads construction and other civil works. At that stage, the government decided that the project would be funded with the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), same as the Lion Building that the Arab Contractors handled simultaneously.
Arab Contractors completed construction of the building, installed the air conditioners, the lead-lining; and all the equipment needed for the diagnostic center were not only paid for but were procured and brought into Enugu Government House before the end of the Chime administration.
The author would have made his essay more acceptable if he recalled that Chime completed projects he inherited such as Loma Linda Housing Estate, ESUT medical school and the ESUT permanent site. In these cases of inherited projects, Chime did more work on the inherited projects than their initiators such as in Loma Linda that he inherited at their foundation. At the Zoo estate, the Chime administration enhanced the estate better than it met it.
Going through his compendium- An Honour to Serve: Enugu state in the Sullivan Years, it is quite discernable that posterity is kind to Chime with landmark achievements, almost in all areas as physical infrastructure, economic development and wealth creation.
It was in the Sullivan years that communities in hinterlands began to access their remote areas and were all connected to the state capital. In Sullivan years, water provision was revisited in Enugu after it was abandoned at the end of the second republic.
In Sullivan years, traffic and street lights became part of the attraction to the coal city with the administration's urban renewal project. If funds were at his beck and call, the coal city would by now be boasting of a monorail which was conceptualized but could not materialize because of the paucity of fund.
In the Sullivan years, nightlife returned to the state because of the arrest of insecurity which the then Inspector General of Police, MD Abubakar adjudged Enugu as the most peaceful and secured state in Nigeria.
At that time, thugs disappeared from the Enugu lexicon and the local government administrations for the first time had tangible projects to their credit, while they confirmed that their federal allocations were not tampered with by the state government.
There is a saying in the Igbo parlance that one does not count spirits, and so recalling the Sullivan years could spark off envy and ignite rested passions, but that is the reason why it's not good to drag a tiger by its tail. The lying dog should be allowed to sleep, else the stubborn child continues to lose sleep with his mother.
Agu, a communications strategist, wrote from Enugu.