By Rotimi Fasan
WE’VE had cases in this country of deputy governors who suffered impeachment or fell out of favour with their bosses for real or perceived acts of disloyalty when the governors were away from duty.
The various rumours as to whether Suntai is healthy or mentally well enough to return to his office or be replaced with another wouldn’t have arisen if the governor had not imposed on himself the high risk task of flying planes he was probably not well trained to fly to airports or equipped to aid such late evening flights.
He was utterly thoughtless and heedless of his position by his habit of flying private jets when it was not as if there are no people paid for such job.
How do you imagine President Obama flying himself around in Airforce One or any other light plane for that matter? Yet, that is something a Nigerian leader can do against expert or security advice.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush was flown away from Washington for security reasons against his personal wish. He had to do as he was told though he was the Commander-in-Chief. A Nigerian leader would have been known for his dangerously wilful conduct that no subordinate would have been bold enough to give him such advice.
Even when we do wish the ailing/recuperating governor quick recovery of his health, we should not forget his complicity in the tragedy that befell him.
In the last several months, at least for over three months, the whereabouts of Sullivan Chime, Governor of Enugu State, has been shrouded in mystery.
The Governor has not been seen in public and the only thing the people of that State know about the governor is that they know nothing of what has become of him.
There have been rumours and counter rumours of health issues but nothing has been or can be verified. Aides of the governor who have taken it upon themselves to comment on his absence have done so in manner that suggests that the matter is nobody’s business and that neither they nor the governor owe the people any explanation.
Apparently, the President knows something of the governor’s whereabouts or he would have spoken out. But would he? How long ago was the national rumour mill revved up by the unexplained absence of the president’s wife for several months?
This was a president who was a victim of the ugly cover of secrecy thrown around President Umar Yar’Adua at a time he was Vice President. Not only was he kept in the dark of what was happening to the president, a successor was going to be chosen for the then ailing president by a clique led by his wife that had held the entire country hostage.
Is it not incredible that after such experience, President Jonathan would allow the same thing with regards to his own wife?
Of course, nobody could have been asking to know the medical history of another for the sheer sake of it but admitting that the president’s wife was ill and out of the country became an impossible task for the president or the presidency.
But whatever may be happening to Sullivan Chime the fact remains that the wheel of governance in that state has been grounded to a halt and the governor’s hangers-on must be having the time of their life at the expense of those who elected him into office.
Idris Wada, Governor of Kogi State, is recuperating at home after an accident that took the life of his police aide. Only days after the accident, Speaker of Kogi House of Assembly, Lawal Jimoh, was equally involved in another accident that killed one of his police escort, Lamidi Akeem.
There have been similar accidents involving state officials and someone might ask the reason for the frequent accidents. But such a person must be a visitor to Nigeria for no Nigerian is ignorant of the lawless display that convoys of public officers put up in traffic. Like the reckless drivers of bullion vans, Nigerian public officers see it as a mark of authority and importance to scare other road users off the road.
On both wide expressways full of potholes and narrow roads they don’t bother to maintain, they go at breakneck speed like armed bandits looking for quick way out of a crime scene. The only difference is that they put on such recklessness with the protection of armed military or police escort, vehicular lights turned on in full and siren blaring.
Their escorts beat other road users with belts and horsewhips and kick at their vehicles where guns are not shot into the air to clear the way.
After all said and done, after they have succeeded in disorienting other Nigerians in traffic, some of the VIPs end up with broken body parts and the death of aides whose names are increasingly hardly given as they become mere figures on the casualty list. Yet, we are all supposed to be sympathetic to such irresponsible public officers when they get themselves into avoidable and irresponsible accidents?
Certainly, it’s in recognition of this kind of unseemly behaviour by public officers who should act by example that the FRSC has vowed to arrest governors’ convoy that violate speed limit, an admission of the recklessness of these state officials and failure on the part of the FRSC. Yet, in no time at all, these absentee governors would be asking for more years.
I have spoken of three governors so far. What do we say of Rochas Okorocha of Imo that decided on a state-wide two weeks Christmas and New Year holiday?
Or Liyel Imoke, said to be seriously ill but whose aides deny such tales of ill health? Ill or not, the fact is that the governor has not been seen in public for several weeks by the people who purportedly elected him into office.
Don’t the people of the State deserve explanation? And when it sounds like people make callous statements about leaders supposed to be ill, how can they show concern for people whose situation they know nothing about even if by right they deserve to know? Oh yes, we are told now that Mr. Imoke is on two months leave. What’s difficult about saying that before the governor suddenly disappeared from the public ‘radar’?
At the rate public officials keep secret what shouldn’t be kept secret one would not be surprised one day if one of them suddenly absent in public is found somewhere out there serving time for some crime only to go back to the same office after a spell in a foreign jail. Yet, in no time at all some people would be out campaigning for more years in office for them.