Enugu—Fifty days after Governor Sullivan Chime began his annual vacation, anxiety is mounting in Enugu State over his whereabouts.
Many residents of the coal city who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, at the weekend, expressed worries that the governor was over-staying his welcome abroad, but his aides and party chieftains said there was no cause for alarm.
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr Chuks Ugwoke, said the governor took his accumulated vacation as he had not taken his annual leave since he became governor in 2007.
Ugwoke explained that the governor handed over to his deputy, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, who was fully in charge of the state’s administration.
“Activities have been on. There is no activity of government that slowed down because you realise that there is an acting governor who is fully in-charge.
“Work is in progress at the new secretariat and on some ongoing road projects. So also with the rural development, where some communities are being connected to the national grid,” he said.
The commissioner said the governor would return as soon as his vacation was over, pointing out that he had not exceeded the duration of his vacation.
In his own reaction, the Chairman of ACN in the state, Mr Emeka Udeh, said the prolonged absence of the governor was unhealthy for governance.
Udeh said the governor was entitled to his vacation but that where it became too long, the people also had the right to be worried.
“It is not healthy for the state. I don’t know if the deputy governor has all the executive powers in his acting capacity. But what I want is that the state must be working,” he said.
On his part, the Chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Vita Abba, said there was nothing unusual about the governor’s absence.
“There is nothing unusual regarding the governor’s absence. He is a governor who has been on seat for the past six years and taking a consolidated leave.
“He did not abscond, he properly and formerly handed over to an acting governor who has been playing the role very well. So there is no vaccum created,” he said.
The Chairman of the NLC in the state, Mr Chukwumaife Nze, described the governor’s absence as the ‘beauty of democracy’.
“I believe that it is democracy in action in the sense that there is a provision in the constitution for acting governor, depending on the circumstance around.
“The only thing we are saying is let the governor come back safely at the appropriate time. The absence of the governor is not affecting the productivity of workers in the state,” Nze said.
Meanwhile, other residents who expressed worry over Chime’s absence felt it was unusual and abnormal for the governor to stay more than one month outside the state.
Some civil servants who spoke on condition of anonymity said his prolonged absence had given room for rumour mongering and speculation.
“The vacation is becoming rather too long and the state is unusually quiet,” one of the workers volunteered.
A businessman, Mr Romanus Obiano, maintained that the people had the right to know the whereabouts of their governor because he was a public servant.
NAN recalls that the governor left the country on Sept. 22. (NAN)