Enugu: Ex-Gov Chime Alleged To Be The Man Behind The Mask
IT took Enugu State governor Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi about twelve days after swearing-in to announce his first key appointments. The appointments came after some reservations have been expressed over the attitude of the administration, and after the governor had spent his first week in office on a thank you visits to his predecessor, Mr Sullivan Chime at his home in Udi.
Those appointed included Mr GOC Aja as Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mr Slyvanus Onoyima, Adviser (Due Process), Mr Uwakwe Abugu (Chief Press Secretary) and Mr Louis Amoke (Special Assistant Media and Publicity).
The governor had also last week sent a request to the State House of Assembly for the approval of 12 Special Advisers. The House convened an emergency session and approved the request. Although Ugwuanyi has continued to defend his style of administration, many residents believed that appointments so far were influenced by certain stakeholders in the party, and the immediate past administration in the state.
Sources within the government circle revealed that interest of individuals and support groups who contributed to the election of the governor which include former state governor, Sullivan Chime, former state Chairman of the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP), Vita Abba, former Chief of Staff, Mrs Ifeoma
Nwobodo, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu among others are being put into consideration in the choice of the appointees.
Other factors include balancing of political power in the three senatorial zones of the state so as to create a sense of belonging among the people.
This manifested in the days it took the governor after swearing-in to make the first appointments. But the governor had during interaction with journalists insisted his choice of the officials was based on merit, devoid of any sentiment or political consideration.
He stated that Aja is a thoroughbred civil servant, stressing that his appointment marks further demonstration of our resolve to
take what we believe will constitute giant strides in the arduous task of governing our dear Enugu state in this dispensation.
He further explained that the SSG, prior to his appointment was the longest serving Permanent Secretary in the state, having been appointed into the former office since 2001. He added that he has served the state meritoriously.
Onoyima according to him has also served meritoriously and had headed the Due Process office of the state for a long time. He added that available records show that he had distinguished himself so far, while Abugu is a seasoned journalist.
If many could accept the defence of the governor on the appointments, the ones he has not been able to convince the people about is the continued retention of some personal appointees of ex-governor Sullivan Chime, who ordinarily should have bowed out the day their principal left Government House. These people have retained their offices. These include the Chief of Staff, Mr Victor Atuonwu, Chief Security Officer (CSO), Fidelis Ogarebe and Chief Protocol Officer, Asogwa among several others.
Atuonwu, a childhood friend of the former governor worked as Special
Adviser Investment to him until he was appointed Chief of Staff last year following Mr Ifeoma Nwobodo’s resignation from the office to contest Enugu East senatorial zone seat.
Although he is not from the state, it is believed that his closeness to Chime is instrumental in whatever he has become so far in the present government. Sources say it could be a direct attack on Chime to replace him. This is because he had been with Chime even before he became governor.
As the Adviser on Investment, he was always with Chime, he was the only appointee that slept and woke up with Chime. When Chime was away for medical treatment abroad for months, it was only Atuonwu that travelled with him.
Many believe that he is the only person that knows Chime inside out.
While Chime’s administration was winding down and appointees
preparing handover note, Atuonwu and the others never budged, they had worked all through. The same factor is being attributed to the delay in the release of the names of the 12 Special Advisers upon which the House had approved last week.
Apparently not satisfied with the way appointments have been handled, as well as rumours that Governor Ugwuanyi had concluded plans to reappoint certain key players in the last
administration, the Nsukka Patriotic Movement (NPM) have risen against the governor. The group in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, and Secretary Uchenna Agbo raised the alarm of purported plot to appoint the former Chief of Staff, Mrs Ifeoma Nwobodo and ex-governor brother, Jide Chime into his government.
They alleged that while Mrs Nwobodo is being put up as the new
Accountant General, Chime’s brother Jide who has never held any public office in the last administration would work as Commissioner for Finance.
The move to appoint the duo into government the group further alleged was part of the deal reached with Ugwuanyi during the election.
But in a swift response, Ugwuanyi denied any such plot, saying the development is part of the rumours being peddled in the state against his government. His Chief Press Secretary, Mr Uwakwe Abugu said: “As far as I know, for anybody to get appointed into the government, he or she must have merited it. Governor Ugwuanyi will also go into effective consultation with relevant stakeholders for anybody to be appointed. Such thinking to my best of my knowledge never exists, and I doubt if the governor discussed or told anybody that he has planned for such appointments. Let them allow concentrate on plans to move the state forward. There is no truth in the matter.”