By Dennis Agbo
THE immediate past governor of Enugu
State, Mr. Sullivan Chime is the quiet type. He had remained quiet politically until penultimate Friday when he reacted to a facebook publication that announced his defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The South East zonal Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr Hyacinth Ngwu had posted on his Facebook page that Chime had defected to the APC. Few hours after, Ngwu edited the page to reflect that Chime may defect to the APC.
The story which went viral made Chime to break his long silence and deny defecting to the APC. He, however, bashed the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which he disclosed he has abandoned. What made news is Chime’s harsh words on the PDP, the political platform that he used to rule Enugu state for eight years. He practically pronounced PDP dead.
Zonal structure of PDP
Chime declared that the PDP was no longer in existence in the true sense of it. He said: “The PDP, we used to be members of is dead. The party I joined in 1999 and had the opportunity of leading in the state for eight years is no longer in existence.
“It is surprising that INEC has not de-registered the PDP because the organization is no longer working in tandem with the constitution that created it. The PDP, as originally formed, has been cremated and no serious-minded politician will remain in it.”
Chime’s hard knock on PDP was not the first time he pronounced a political party dead. On June 13, 2012, Chime as Governor while hosting the South east zonal leadership of the PDP had pronounced the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA dead in the zone.
At that time APGA controlled two states in the South East, Anambra and Imo States. That was before Governor Rochas Okorocha defected to the APC. Chime told the Austin Akobundu led zonal structure of PDP that APGA had no chance whatsoever in the 2014 Anambra State governorship election and future elections in Nigeria because, according to him, APGA no longer had a system and a succession plan.
He postulated that whatever was remaining of APGA would finally crumble as soon as Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State relinquished power by March 17, 2014. Chime, who expressed confidence that the PDP would be in control of the South East after the 2015 elections, told the visiting PDP members to take advantage of APGA’s extinction to win the governorship election in Anambra State in 2014 and in Imo State in 2015.
Chime, however, failed in the two predications as APGA won the 2014 governorship election in Anambra state while Imo state went back to Okorocha, who had left APGA for APC. So, would Chime be third time unlucky in his pronouncation of death on a political party?
Pundits in Enugu believe that Chime’s death wish on PDP is just an opportunity to pay back PDP for rejecting his bid for the Senate in 2015. Indeed, since he was overwhelmed by Senator Ike Ekweremadu in the struggle for the control of the Enugu branch of the party, Chime has not really wished the party well.
As the incumbent governor he had fought Ekweremadu and sought to diminish the Deputy Senate President’s profile in Enugu. At a meeting with Enugu lawmakers in Government House where it was ordered that lawmakers who had spent two terms in the National Assembly should stand down. That order was generally beleived to be aimed at stopping Ekweremadu.
Some say that Chime could be running away from PDP having come to realization that Senator Ekweremadu is in full control of PDP both at the state and even at the national level. Chime may still be interested in contesting for a Senate seat and may have severed relationship with Ekweremadu, who obviously wrestled PDP from him in 2015 and has remained in control.
Another permutation in the state is anchored on the fact that no Governor in Enugu State since 1999 had ever been in the best of times with his predecessor. There is growing suspicion that all may not be very cordial between Chime and his successor, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
It is easily remembered that Governor Chimaroke Nnamani after he entered office in 1999 became estranged from Senator Jim Nwobodo, who was his presumed godfather. Nwobodo left the PDP for Nnamani to the UNPP where he contested the presidency in 2003.
Interestingly, in 2003 Nnamani helped the PDP to retain the state.
Nnamani, who foisted Chime as his successor himself became estranged from him within months of the handover in 2007 and was subsequently forced to leave the party for Chime.
Ugwuanyi who is now carrying the burden of the PDP left by Chime in Enugu State is yet to make any reaction on the report that his party is dead.
How he reacts would define his relationship with his predecessor.