Chime’s breach of protocol

on   /   in Viewpoint 11:06 am   /   Comments

THE  burial of the mother of Senator Ayogu Eze, Mrs. Paulina Eze, has certainly come and gone, but the political undertones and dusts still linger.

First, the ability of federal legislators from EnuguState led by the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu to get President Goodluck Jonathan to attend the burial speaks political volumes, especially in the face of the rising political overbearingness of the State Government on many of the lawmakers.

It is indeed one presidential visit the Governor of the State, Sullivan Chime did not find funny, especially since he had decreed that no second term federal lawmaker from Enugu would be reelected.

The other and, maybe, the fallout of the first was the failure of the Governor of the State, Sullivan Chime, to recognise the Office of the Deputy President of the Senate while observing protocol during his remarks. Sadly, this happened in the presence of the President himself and drew the ire and loud murmurs of disapproval.

On the one side are those who feel that Governor Chime, especially being a lawyer, understood the implications of such breach of protocol and therefore could not have deliberately committed such a blunder. On the majority divide where I belong to, however are those who believe it was one breach too many.

It was not the first time the Governor would descend that low. I remember vividly that such incident occurred at the inauguration of international commercial flight operations at the Akanu Ibiam international Enugu in August this year.

At the said airport event, Governor Chime only recognised the Governors, Ministers, and other dignitaries and went on to educate the gathering on the role he felt that he played in the realisation of the international airport, but which he felt were all being ascribed to “some  people”. Whereas he did not mention Senator Ekweremadu’s name, the audience knew he was referring to him and the South East  members of the National Assembly.

The action was also a direct response to the remarks by the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, who had extolled Senator Ekweremadu highly for his roles. Unfortunately, as if everything conspired to rub pepper into the Governor’s wound, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala who was oblivious of what transpired before she joined the occasion, said that the quest for an international airport for the South East would probably have remained a pipe dream, but for a goal-getter like the Deputy Senate President.

Even though politicians are permitted to have their differences, there is however a minimum finesse expected of him or her. Only last November, the media widely reported that the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and his estranged “former” National Secretary, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola embraced each other at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Both men are certainly at daggers drawn (politically speaking), but they nevertheless understand that decency and their gray hairs required them to show some maturity.

Thus, as Governor, and a lawyer for that matter, Chime’s action was quite childish. More so, when failure to recognise the Senator did not change the fact that the Office was present at the event and that guests already acknowledged that. And people should learn to accept what they cannot change.

Furthermore, our politicians need to separate the offices occupied by their perceived political contenders from the individuals themselves. For instance, you are free to dislike the person of a public officer the much you like, but you are obliged to accord that office the  respect intrinsic in it.

Thus, if mentioning Ekweremadu’s name was such a big deal, all he should have done was to smartly say “The Deputy Senate President”. But for Governor Chime to totally ignore the office because of the person occupying it was a massive disrespect to the President, the lawmakers, and indeed the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which prescribes the office in the first place, and which the Governor swore to uphold.

Meanwhile, I do  not know what Chime’s political hangers-on might have told him after that blunder. It is most likely that they would clink glasses and say “Anyi emee ya eme” (we have shown the man). But as one who admired the Governor in his first term, it is only proper to counsel him that his action was totally unnecessary. At least, not so soon after the recent matrimonial imbroglio involving him and his estranged wife, Mrs. Clara Chime.

Let me further remind the Governor that his Clara was widely quoted in the media as swearing that “I will never go back there again; I will not even wish my enemy to marry in that kind of place again”. The impression out there is that whatever made an average Nigerian woman to walk away from life in a Government House, forsaking all the affluence, attention, and power that comes with being a Governor’s wife, must be truly unbearable.

It is therefore not in the governor’s interest to give further credence to that impression. He should stop giving himself away as the arrogant, and the troublemaker.

Besides, one would have thought that a funeral should afford men the opportunity of sober reflections; hence the Bible says that it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. If therefore the vanity of life, the ephemerality of power, the nothingness and the folly in grandstanding and arrogance did not dawn on a man in such a somber atmosphere, then there is irredeemable.

Mr. ROMANUS OKEREKE, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Enugu, Enugu State.

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