Chime’s absence normal – Speaker

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Enugu—SPEAKER, Enugu State House of Assembly, Mr Eugene Odo, yesterday said that the prolonged absence of Gov. Sullivan Chime from the state was normal and constitutional.

Odo, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, yesterday, said the constitution was very silent on the number of days a governor or president could be absent from duty. Governor Chime left Enugu about 84 days ago on Septemer 19 and has not returned to the state since then.

However, Odo told NAN that, there is nothing in the constitution that stipulates the number of times a governor could be absent from office.

He noted that the constitution envisaged the possibility of a governor or president staying away from office, which led to the provision for the deputy governor or vice president who ordinarily stands-in for the former.

“The governor transmitted a letter before proceeding on vacation and the letter was accordingly read on the floor of the House as against the various speculations written in the media on which of course I’m not ready to join issues with anybody.

“So that is it. As regards what you are saying about the limit or number of days expected to stay, the constitution is very silent on that, so there is nothing in the constitution that stipulates the number of times the governor could be absent”.

“But as it is in Enugu State, a letter was transmitted to the House where upon the House was asked to give necessary cooperation to the deputy governor, who is now acting as the governor.

“And accordingly, the deputy governor, who is now the acting governor has been acting; so the law presumes that once the governor is not there, the acting should be there, so that there will not be a vacuum in government and of course that is what is happening in Enugu State.’’

He urged the people of the state to cooperate with the acting governor to provide democracy dividends and protect lives and property since the state does not belong to any individual alone.

On the autonomy of the legislature being canvassed in the ongoing constitutional amendment, Odo said the conference of speakers was championing the agitation to ensure that state legislatures were autonomous.

He expressed the hope that with the support of all the 36 state assemblies, the agitation would be enshrined in the constitution since it had no negative impact on Nigerians.

The speaker said the conference of speakers had held workshops and meetings with members of the National Assembly on the matter and intended to meet with the governors’ forum to solicit their support.

Odo said that in the last one legislative calendar year, which started from June 6, the assembly had passed 17 motions with some receiving the attention of the executive and others ignored while seven out of the nine bills passed have been assented to by the governor.

On relations with the executive, the speaker said it was cordial based on mutual respect and in accordance with constitutional provisions.

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