Concerns over the governor’s absence is yet to settle, even with the released photograph.
A political group in Enugu State has rejected the recently released picture of the Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, describing it as “fake.”
Save Enugu Group, a network apparently taking a cue from Save Nigeria Group, the national front which fought the secrecy over late president, Umaru Yar’Adua’s illness, said it found the photograph to have been arranged.
“We have come to the conclusion that the picture posted by Enugu state government as having been taken on Tuesday 22nd January 2013, is fake and tells a lie about itself,” the group, led by Maxi Ukwu, chairman of the Citizens Popular Party, CPP; and Willy Ezeugwu, Secretary General of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, said.
“Some of the Governors shown on that picture could not have been in London on that day unless they have the gift of bi-location. Secondly and more seriously, if Governor Chime is as fit as shown, what is he still doing away from his duty post for over four months?” the group added.
The group’s critical stance, released in a statement on Thursday, signaled the power crisis in Enugu State over Mr. Chime’s prolonged absence, was far from over; and the picture, expected to help ease the tension, was achieving relatively little.
Mr. Chime’s photograph, where he is seen in a winter gear alongside Governors Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State; Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, peaked months of unease in the state where he was last seen in public more than four months ago.
For the months he was missing, aides maintained the governor had traveled for accumulated leave, and forcefully denied his trip had anything to do with ill health.
Three missing governors
The prolonged disappearance only coincided with those of two other governors of Taraba and Cross Rivers States- Danbaba Suntai and Liyel Imoke, respectively.
While Mr. Suntai’s case was clear, having survived an air crash, Mr. Imoke’s whereabouts was also closely wrapped by state officials, even when it was apparent the trip was health-related.
Both governors remain out of the country.
But as speculations mounted of Mr. Suntai’s alleged deteriorating condition, officials released a photograph showing the governor, appearing transfixed, sitting with his wife and children in Germany.
The photograph was dismissed as “photo-shopped”, and critics pointed to the governor’s engrossed posture as indicating he was seriously ill.
But somehow, the gambit appeared to have worked, significantly reversing the attention over Mr. Suntai’s absence.
Enugu seeks answers
In Enugu State, Mr. Chime’s aides only admitted the governor checked into a U.K. hospital for medical attention, after it emerged Mr. Chime was receiving attention for heart-related illness.
The Save Enugu group said the released photo, and a purported telephone interview with the governor reported by Vanguard newspaper, were doing more trouble than intended good.
“No doubt this was a panic response by Enugu state government to meet our two week deadline to reveal the location and status of our governor,” the group said. “If that was the purpose then it has failed woefully.”
The group wondered why, as reported, Mr. Chime would not return home with another governor, Peter Obi of Anambra, who went visiting too, but traveled back with news of the Ezu river bodies.
“How come there was no picture taken and why did our own governor not rush home also? The river is at the joint boundaries of the two states,” the group said.
The group said it was demanding that the Enugu State Government apologize to the people of state for misleading them on the governor’s true situation.