By Josef Omorotionmwan

Ordinarily, it might be unethical, or at least seemingly immoral, to be prying into a man’s life; except that the moment a man accepts public office, he also accepts to subject his total being to public scrutiny in which case, his life becomes an open book or a farm that cannot be hidden.

This explains why some men who are sensitive in nature may sometimes decline public office, because between the various screenings and confirmation hearings, there is no telling how many touchy questions that could be raised.

The second executive Governor of old Kano State, in the Second Republic, Alhaji Bakin Zuwo, was the first to expose us to the open nature of a public office when he espoused his theory of “Government money in Government House; what’s the problem?” His quarrel was not that security operatives who entered into Government House while he was away in detention found some quantity of cash in his house but that they were under-reporting the actual amount he left there.

Similar theatricals are currently playing out in the Enugu State Government House where Governor Sullivan Chime may be quietly asking the question: “Governor’s wife in Government House, what’s the problem?” He is getting appropriate answers to his question and within each answer lie bundles of problems.

Chime’s youthful appearance gives him away. But for his wretched moustache, he could easily pass for a fag at the Immaculate Conception College. When he first became Governor of Enugu State in 2007, he was single, having divorced his first wife before then, when he was the State Commissioner of Health. He married his present wife, Clara, in 2008. A year later, the couple was blessed with a baby boy.

We hear that trouble started for the First Lady soon after the birth of her son. Sources close to the family inform that: “Not long after the birth of her son, about a year into the marriage, Clara suffered a bout of depression. Doctors felt these were occasioned by childbirth and she was treated accordingly. After a while, she came out of it and continued with her life”.

The situation at hand is beginning to look more like a poorly organised return match. Governor Chime was diagnosed for cancer of the nose in early September 2012. From that time to February 8, 2013, he was in Britain where he sought and received the best possible medical attention.

Clara is now down with what increasingly looks like a case of manic-depression. Her current travail may have started when her husband’s case first came to the fore. Perhaps the pressure of seeing her husband battling with something as serious as cancer caused her to relapse.

Consequently, when the Governor left the country for treatment abroad, the First Lady was also being managed for her manic-depression. Although Clara was with the husband in the United Kingdom while he was undergoing treatment, it was, no doubt, a trying period for the family as she was also being treated by the side.

After they returned to Nigeria, the Governor’s health improved by the day while the wife’s condition began to deteriorate inversely. Governor Chime’s immediate reaction to his wife’s deteriorating situation was to place her on solitary confinement in Government House. This is the soul of the problem.

There is the mistaking belief that the marginalisation of women begins and ends with their inadequate placement in government positions. But if the situation is such that when a man is ill, he seeks the best treatment anywhere in the world, but when his wife falls sick, she is locked up in solitary confinement, what greater proof of marginalisation would anyone be looking for?

Such a wife is simply considered a personal property, perhaps less precious than other pieces of furniture in the house! In other climes, lower animals are already being treated humanely. Less than a month ago, an elephant died in Toronto Zoo in Canada. It was thought that the conditions in Toronto Zoo were no longer conducive to elephants. A surviving elephant was quickly transferred by train to another zoo in the USA at millions of dollars to the Canadian authorities.

What Clara is currently going through is worse than the old demonological approach  to crime control, which has since been abandoned as atavistic. In ancient times, it was thought that criminals were demon-possessed. Criminals were, therefore, locked up in solitary confinement, equipped with the Bible for them to read and confess their sins, while they sought repentance. In the case of Clara, she was said to have been denied access to everything – no Bible, no telephone, no lap top and she has, indeed, been cut off from all means of communication with the outside world! In a very subtle tone, she claims that they want her dead.

It will be unfair to totally ignore the dilemma of Governor Chime. We are possibly looking at a mental case. What does a man do if his wife has gone totally berserk? How does he export her abroad — cage her or crate her, the Umaru Dikko style? We saw real agony in the face of the Governor when he said: “Na me get my wife. Na me know how to treat am”. On Chief Femi Falana, the embattled Governor quipped rather angrily: “I won’t join words with him. Has he met this client of his as he claimed to assess her state of mind and determine if she can give him the right brief to guide his case?”

In all this, the buck stops with Governor Chime. Our concern is that his wife is entitled to the type of treatment, which he received during his own challenge. How he gets her there is his business. After all, he allowed the situation to aggravate to this level! That good health facilities are still lacking in Nigeria is a crime for which every leader of this country, past and present, stands accused.


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