Chime and the impetuous habit of pronouncing parties dead
Tony Nnamdi Anene
The immediate past governor of Enugu state, Mr. Sullivan Chime is the quiet type. He had remained quiet politically until recently when he reacted to an oniline publication that announced his defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The South East zonal Publicity Secretary of APC, Hon. Hyacinth Ngwu had posted on his Facebook page that Chime had defected to the APC. Few hours after, Ngwu edited the page to reflect that Chime may defect to the APC.
The story which went viral online made Chime to break his long silence and denied defecting to the APC but bashed the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which he disclosed he had abandoned.
What make news are Chime’s harsh words on the PDP, the political platform that he used to rule Enugu state for eight years. He practically pronounced PDP dead.
In Chime’s words, he said PDP was no longer in existence in the true sense of it. “The PDP we used to be members of is dead. The party I joined in 1999 and had the opportunity of leading in the state for eight years is no longer in existence.
“It is surprising that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not de-registered the PDP because the organization is no longer working in tandem with the constitution that created it. The PDP as originally formed has been cremated and no serious-minded politician will remain in it.”
Chime’s hard knocks on PDP were not the first time he pronounced a political party dead. On June 13 2012, Chime as Governor while hosting the South east zonal structure of PDP said that the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, was dead in the zone.
As at then, APGA controlled two states in the South East, Anambra and Imo state. That was before Governor Rochas Okorocha defected to the APC.
Chime told the Austin Akobundu led zonal structure of PDP that APGA had no chance whatsoever at the 2014 Anambra State governorship election and future elections in the Nigeria because, according to him, APGA no longer had a system and a succession plan.
He postulated that whatever was remaining of APGA would finally crumble as soon as the then Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State relinquished power by March 17, 2014.
Chime, who expressed confidence that the PDP would be in control of the South East after the 2015 elections told the visiting PDP members to take advantage of APGA’s extinction to win the governorship election in Anambra State in 2014 and in Imo State in 2015.
Chime however failed in the two predications as APGA won the 2014 governorship election in Anambra state while Imo state went back to Okorocha who had left APGA for APC.
It would therefore not be surprising if Chime fails in his last declaration that PDP was dead.
It is also noteworthy to recall that Chime had made attempt to join the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, before the 2011 general elections, when he was almost denied reelection ticket, when Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo was the National Chairman of the PDP.
Then Governors Babatunde Fashola of Lagos and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti states reportedly took a chattered aircraft to Enugu in an Sunday evening to negotiate with the then Governor Chime whose time ticked fast towards deadline for submission of candidates.
Chime however made a volt face against ACN as PDP offered him a second term ticket which made political tension rest in the coal city state.
It is believed that Chime has not forgiven the PDP for dragging him towards the brink of what would have changed his political history. Indeed Chime is accused of not forgiving so easily, especially when feels that people are plotting his fall.
As if the 2011 PDP’s bruise on Chime was not enough. The PDP in 2015 went ahead to deny Chime his senatorial ambition by refusing to offer him a ticket for the election. Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was favoured by the PDP for a fourth term ticket on the Enugu West Senatorial district seat.
It was a huge drama for the then Governor Chime as he almost lost every other bargain in the state if he had insisted on replacing Ekweremadu.
Chime eventually recoiled and took a bow to a quite zone in the party after the 2015 general elections, pretending to have made up with his former adversaries including Ekweremadu and other PDP leaders in the state.
It was therefore so easy for pundits in Enugu to conclude that Chime recently saw an opportunity to pay back PDP in its own coin, when he lashed out hard on the party.
It could also be recalled that the outburst was not the first time Chime dealt a blow on the PDP. It is said in hushed tones that Chime is suspected to be that one PDP Governor whose vote was missing when Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers state recontested for leadership of the Governors Forum in 2014, during President Goodluck Jonathan’s reign.
Even though there is no confirmation of the allegation, the allegation is strong in political circles.
Chime is also alleged to be running away from his current investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, although the former Governor replied that it was not his reason for dumping PDP.
Some say that Chime could be running away from PDP having come to the realization that Senator Ekweremadu is in full control of PDP, both at the state and even at the national level.
Chime may still be interested in contesting for the senate seat and may have severed relationship with Ekweremadu who obviously wrestled PDP from Chime in 2015 and has since then, remained in control.
Another permutation in the state is anchored on the fact no preceding Governor in Enugu state since 1999 had ever been in the best of times with their successors. There is suspicion that all may not be very cordial between Chime and his successor, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The chronology of the story is that ex-Governor Chimaroke Nnamani fell out with Senator Jim Nwobodo who was Nnamani’s presumed Godfather. Nwobodo left the PDP for Nnamani to UNPP where he contested Presidency in 2003. Nnamani won and retained PDP in the state.
Nnamani suffered a similar fate in his relationship with his successor, Chime, and was forced to leave the PDP for Chime who carried on with party until recently. In the same vein, it is already being speculated that for Chime to have pronounced PDP dead, and wanting to get out, he may have become estranged with his successor Governor Ugwuanyi who is now left to carry on as leader of the PDP in the state.
However, Ugwuanyi is yet to make any reaction on the waves of defection from his party, PDP, to the APC in Enugu state.
Observers however note that it would be a great disservice to the APC if Chime joins the party, given that Chime was one governor who refused to allow the opposition, particularly the APC to thrive in Enugu state when he held sway.
It will be recalled that the Present Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu was among those that went to court to protest Chime’s disqualification of APGA and APC from contesting the 2014 local government elections in the state.
“How times change,” said Stephen Ogbodo from Nkanu East local government area of the state.