Why we want to impeach Chime – Odo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why we want to impeach Chime – Odo

Posted: May 9, 2015 at 1:33 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Enugu State House of Assembly on Monday issued Governor Sullivan Chime with a notice of impeachment. The Speaker of the House, Eugene Odo, in this interview with journalists, including EMMANUEL NZOMIWU, speaks on the matter, at his Enugu residence. Excerpts…

What is the genesis of the problem in Enugu State?

OdeThe genesis of the problem in Enugu State is the rejection of the N11 billion loan that the governor forwarded to the House and which the House turned down. That was just the genesis of the problem. And thereafter the governor has been hunting members of the House of Assembly as if he is hunting some fowls.

What else happened?

Beyond that, the governor had to make us to sign 2012 Supplementary Appropriation Bill just this 2015. And upon presenting same, we said no, that this very article is unknown to the House. That this very article is very strange and that the House has not deliberated same. And if he denies, we have, by the Grace of God, had access to the photocopy. It is totaling about N12 billion. That was number one in the impeachment notice because you cannot be signing supplementary appropriation of 2012 in May 2015, three years after. So, these are part of the problems that he felt that we could conceal. And we feel that, that is beyond governance. It calls for public morality. So, the thinking of the entire House is that they would keep defending the interest of the people of Enugu State. Part of the impeachable offence as well was that in the New Secretariat that was bided for N8.6 billion, he awarded same for about N13 billion. During several variations, it has sky-rocketed to about N22 billion. None of these things were appropriated. I stand to be challenged. None of them was appropriated and then the House felt that this should constitute an impeachable offence and beyond even responding to the service given to him this morning, if he feels challenged, let him come to air so that we can provide document by document all we have been able to provide for us to depose as same. Of course, we know that constitutionally under the Land Use Act, the governor has powers to allocate land but in this case, he has abused same, appropriating public land for personal use.

What about the N11 billion?

Talking of N11 billion, it is coming under ISPO, meaning that it is an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order, that is to be paid in three years by the new administration. How can a new administration inherit a debt to be paid for three years? One year left for the campaign is the only year the administration has to do some job. The House in its wisdom felt that this is beyond doing favour to Governor Sullivan Chime and of course, for Christ sake, I don’t think if he has a personal interest. If he has no personal interest, he shouldn’t be rattling himself the way he is doing. So, it is uncalled for. This is public service. Whatever you cannot achieve, you hand over same. Even the incoming Governor cannot even achieve everything.

From what you have said, the governor seemed to be the one that started the impeachment process against you, with the aid of eight members of the House?

No, the governor had a meeting yesterday and then we learnt of it and then had to shift our sitting forward. But previously, we adjourned till Tuesday. So, they now kidnapped the Clerk of the House with a view to sitting today. So, we had to shift our own sitting forward and now sat before them. You can see we are 15 in number. They are just eight. They are just seven because even the Speaker does not vote. There is no state in the country where seven people can effect impeachment. This is the impunity going on in Enugu State. This is the impeachment going on in the 21st Century, and I believe that Nigerians should rise up and stand to the challenges of this impunity.

You were the Speaker when the Deputy Governor was impeached. All these things you listed now, have they not happened at that time?

No. In the impeachment of the Deputy Governor, you see, I was actually lucky this time around. If my members had betrayed me, certainly, there is no way this story wouldn’t have gone. As a speaker, the position of a speaker is more administrative than legislative. So, in the impeachment of the former Deputy Governor, people like us told the governor, ‘look, let us resort to Dispute Resolution, especially calling elders of the state, but, incidentally, he could not come to terms with it and before we knew it, everybody had signed. As a Speaker, you have no option, other than present a request of even a single member. As it is in the case of impeachment, you need only eight persons to do that.

In clear terms, what are you impeaching the governor for?

In clear terms, we are impeaching the governor for forging Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2012 and coming to sign same in 2015.

We are impeaching him for making expenditures in the execution of projects in the N13 billion New Secretariat that has been sky-rocketed to over N21 billion without budgetary allocation. We are equally impeaching him for non implementation of budgetary provisions. There is a Department in Government House called PDI, that is not known to Law. This Department does even more work than the Ministry of Work. So, we are querying how a Department under the office of Governor could equally execute jobs more than Ministry of Works. Of course, we cannot come to terms with this. In clear terms, the allegations will be published tomorrow.

Speaking through one of his media aides, the governor said you started leading a rebellion against him because he did not make you governor?

The arrangement with respect to the governorship of Enugu State was concluded under consultative meeting with the governor as at August. Don’t forget that this particular loan, we passed it by October, with the undertaken that these contractors would have executed the jobs within seven months, ending May 29. Upon passage of this particular bill, we have concluded everything about Governor by then. So, the issue of Governorship cannot come in. And then, after the passage, the CBN now said, ‘look, a Government that is winding up, that has about seven months to leave cannot procure loan. And then, he now came and went to UBA and entered into agreement under ISPO to borrow another N11` billion. This time around, it was coming too late. Almost less than 60 days to go. And we felt that these people, even if we give them this money, they are not going to do anything with it. That was why we rejected it. It is not about Governorship or what. It is not aboutgovernorship. And don’t forget that the governor ran for Senate and lost. He lost to Ekweremadu. I don’t want to believe that while he is orchestrating this kind of impunity is because he lost the Senate. I don’t want to believe that.

How long has the strained relationship been?

I think we have worked so well with the executive, not just the Governor alone. The strained relationship came as a result of the turning down of this last request of the Governor. That is all. And may be, he felt that strange thing has happened and equally failed to understand the rationale behind the rejection. It was unanimous. It was not Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker has no vote. Ours is to just rule on where the majority votes.

Are you comfortable with the idea that a new speaker has been selected in your stead?

I don’t have to be comfortable. It is a mere orchestration of illegality and of course, continued impunity of the Governor. I was really shocked that at our present democracy, the governor who is a lawyer of about 34 years standing in the bar could champion eight people sitting down to remove a Speaker where you know it is two thirds. I mean, it is a shame to democracy. I am equally ashamed as I am speaking this. There is nothing like removal of Speaker. What they merely did is a mere exercise in futility. And again, it is to show the world the kind of impunity in Enugu State. That is what they succeeded in doing.