Tuesday , 31 January 2023


Hon. Ray Nnaji, former National  Auditor of the ruling  People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who described the Engr. Vita Abba led Executive as a  rubber stamp, has also accused Governor Sullivan Chime and Mrs. Ifeoma  Nwobodo of hijacking the party structure to the detriment of the founding fathers of the party. In an exclusive interview with IFEANYI OTTAH, he discusses among other issues his plan to renew his matter against Abba in court, Chime’s achievement and the zoning arrangement in the state.

EXCERTPS: – It was reported on papers recently that you said you would go to court and challenge Engr. Vita Abba’s chairmanship.  How true is this?

Yes, I said something of that nature but not that I will go to court.  I had been in court a long time.  Since 2008, I filled a suit against Engr. Vita Abba, because I was the elected chairman.  I have my papers; Vita Abba has no single paper.  And because of the fact that they believe it was Chimaroke that supported my being the chairman, therefore, Sullivan did not want to see my face. It lingers to the extent that the then National Chairman of the party Chief Vincent Ogbulafor for his personal reason did not even want to recognize  my position.  Ogbulafor happens to be the National Secretary when I was the National Auditor.  Unfortunately for him and fortunately for me I had to submit that situation to the Federal High court Enugu and the matter was going on. I had two rulings in my favour in the issue of Jurisdiction because Mrs. A. J Offia (SAN) with P.M.B. Onyia (SAN) and the rest were the people defending the government, Vita Abba while PDP has its own legal Adviser and two of them raised the issue of Jurisdiction and at the end of the day I defeated them and they resorted to going to appeal, especially A.J. Offia on behalf of Vita Abba.  So, along the line Sullivan through his younger brother, Dr. Jide Chime and Commissioner for Art and Culture, Barr. Joe Mamere started persuading me from January 2010 to April 2010, four months they were putting pressure on me begging me to concede to allowing Vita to continue in office because they knew quite well that I don’t have anything.

Obviously, because of that Appeal and the fact that Federal is trying to get out of hand because of crisis I decide to heed to the advice of His Excellency Barr. Sullivan Chime, whom I thought was a gentleman.  I didn’t know that he is a man who does not live in his words.  He will say so many things and he will not do any; very unfortunate. So I just met him on April 18, 2010 and eventually I met him again on May 8, 2010 where he and myself were alone inside the old government lodge in his inner parlour where he made so many promises, begging me that if I should allow Vita to continue as Chairman that there are so many things lined up he is going to do for me.

For the fact that I wasn’t in good terms with what was happening in my own group as at that time, I decided to concede my position to Vita Abba.   But it turned out that he is not carrying the party along the way it is supposed to be.  I know how Onyioha Nwanjokwu, who handed over to  him, the charisma, the way he was carrying the party.  Vita Abba just became a total rubber stamp.  This is the party we formed in 1998.

I was a Local Government Chairman in 1997 and in 1998 we formed the People’s Democratic Party.  Unfortunately, this party we formed believing that the tenets of the party will be maintained, Vita Abba has allowed it to be messed up. If I am to tell you now that the meetings of PDP are done in secret you will be surprise. Is that the Democracy we prayed and worked for? Is that the democracy we craved for? So many meetings are done without the people that are supposed to be aware.  Even the people when they are contesting an election will not be allowed to see the structure.

If you want to meet the structure you must get permission from the Chief of staff, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo.  What kind of nonsense is this?  Where was she, where was the governor in 1997 when I was a local government Chairman, and in 1998 when we formed the party? When I was the National Auditor, we didn’t even lord it over the people.  We allowed the structure to get in touch with the people.  You should allow the people to get in touch with the structure.  At the end of the day, if you are popular you will win an election.  And that kind of situation is dangerous in our general election.  Not a situation where you pigeon hole everybody.  In a general election, you think you can rig a popular person out?  It is not going to be possible.  That is why I used the word that the peace we have in Enugu state is a peace in the grave yard which will explode.  I will continue to warn the party. I have written letters to a lot of people; to the Chairman of the party and even to the President. I have seen what is going to happen. That is why I said, I am going to renew my matter in the Federal High Court and not that I want to go to court. The matter has been in court; it was adjourned because of the appeal and the appeal had been with dawn by Offia, so the matter is lying to be reopened and I am going to reopen it very soon.

It is said in some quarters that former governor Chimaroke Nnamani and Deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu want to use you to factionalize the party.  How do you react to this?

Let me be frank with you.  Let me first of all address the issue of the deputy governor.  The issue concerning the deputy governor is very unfortunate; very unfortunate in the sense that the former deputy governor played in the hands of those people who had wanted to remove him – Sullivan Chime and Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo. These are two people who were instrumental to his removal and he played into their hands.  He knew quite well that those people are targeting him after the 2012 sudden disappearance of the governor, when he had ill problem.  What transpired that period was what gave rise to this.  The issue of his senatorial ambition and the issue of chicken poultry and issue of in subordination are secondary.  That was the major reason I knew.  What transpired within the period Sullivan travelled for about five months?

Sullivan doesn’t seem to have forgiven him.  You know Sullivan does not forgive anybody.  He is a kind of person that if he wants to deal with you he will keep quiet and be watching until when he gets an opportunity he will strike.  No matter the appeal.  He is the type of person I know too well.

In such a situation it is the duty of the party to intervene, notwithstanding that Sullivan is the leader of the party.  We are not saying that he should be confrontational to the governor.  The party is free; in a situation like this the party is supposed to weld in seriously and have elaborate discussion.  They were telling us about caucus.  But before you get to the level of caucus, other levels of the party have to discuss it fully.  I know all the segment of the party, based on my experience as the former National Auditor of the party.  I know the caucus is one of the biggest organs of the party, but to what extent have other stakeholders discussed the issue and find out that  the best way to remedy the situation is by impeachment? Though it is past tense, he has been impeached and another person, one of our brothers from the same area has been brought in.  So that is by the way.  With regard to your question concerning the fact that they want to use me to factionalize the party, no, let me be frank with you.  People underrate people.  Sullivan Chime is underrating so many people in this state.

Because of the fact that he finds himself as the governor, you think you can do anything.  That is the problem.  Don’t underrate anybody most especially people you know they are part and parcel of this party from the formation stage. We know quite well that they may not be part of your government, but there are people you cannot underrate. If it happens that my move to bring back my position ends up in factionalizing the party so be it because that is what he wants. He doesn’t want the peace he has been enjoying to continue.  So if it is a way to factionalize the party, so be it that is what he wants.  You must give somebody whatever he wants.  You know they were making argument that the tenure of Vita Abba had elapsed, that they have done another elections and the rest of them. No, the fact is that you cannot place something on something and force it to stand.  So when a matter is in the court, do anything you like when the matter is ready they will call you.  This matter has been filed before you did all this. Sullivan is a lawyer and he practiced the Profession before he became governor, so he knows what I am saying.   The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a party to the suit.  Unfortunately, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor is no longer there but I am going to join the new National Chairman Alhaji Adamu Muazu in the suit. Very soon they will see.  We will go to court, let them bring their lawyer. We will start of where we stopped.   I am not in a hurry, even if it is two, three years.   By the time I file my papers we will know where it will get us to. I find out that Sullivan is not a gentleman , he  is not a  man that you can say live by his words.  It got to a stage, on April (2014) this year, I got to him with his brother Jide and Joe Mamere, four of  us were inside the red carpet  in his office and I told him His Excellency, you told me to concede my position to Vita Abba on certain condition which you have not fulfilled up till now;  and what happened at the end of the day.

He was asking me why should I have to wait for over thirteen months.   Am I the one to remind him?

He said, have I not been seeing him and I answered where have I been seen you? I told him, I made three requests to see you but all of them were turned down. I said, Sullivan Chime if I see you in a function I will start holding you and telling you to fulfill the promises you have not fulfilled.  At the end of the day he said he has thirteen months to go. Before he said it,  a  sycophant, Joe Mammere brought the issue of save Enugu Group.  That I signed the save Enugu Group, that I should come to the government House and apologies to the governor begging.  And I said, why should I beg, that I did it in good faith.  Governor was asking me why did I sign the paper? I said, I signed the papers because they were rumouring that you were dead.  Nobody knows your way about for five months and the people you left behind did not know any details about you.  And I said, ok, if you are feeling bad you never told me before now.  Though I did it in good faith, unfortunately but if you are feeling bad about that I am very sorry about that.  That time the state was going into a bad shape and the group came with papers with an intention to know your way about.  And said him, after the first paper was signed by the group which I signed and it was published, two days after your pictures with Amaechi and Akpabio came out in the papers and it was from that that everyone knows that you are still alive. So what offense have I committed to make you feel bad and not fulfill the promises you entered with me?  Before you know it, Joe started saying that I must give the governor,  Jide and himself Joe Mammere apology that they were the people that brought  me to the governor.  I said, look at you Joe, you people have stayed seven years, but look at me, do I look like a hungry man? One year plus and that is why you think you are on top of the world.  Joe, I know when you were having problem with Chimaroke Nnamani, I know how hungry you were then.  He is a hungry man, even in terms of practice, let him come into practice, I am into it.  He is a lawyer, come into practice let us see how far you can make it.  That is how to know a man even if you are not into government. Joe, I was a local government Chairman before you, I was a former Commissioner before you, I served at the echelon of the party.  I said, Joe where did you serve?  Just pure sycophant. And I told him no, I am not going to give an apology to two of you. I told him that if I am going to give apology, it will be the governor which he never told me.  He is the governor, I have to respect him; but I started visiting the red carpet before the governor, when I was local government chairman under Sule Ahman.

What is your take on the governorship zoning formula introduced in Enugu state by Chime’s Administration?

No, zoning has been there, though there was no written agreement.  I have spoken about this issue before. Zoning has been there from the time of Chimaroke.  When Chimaroke ended his eight years, the thing shifted to West, which is what Sullivan is enjoying and in all fairness and equity the thing should shift to North.  And that is why I said zoning has been there conventionally.  It is not as if it was written anywhere, because it will be so bad for the power to go back either to the West that is coming out from it or the East that handed over to the West.

So after the North, it will start all over again. It will go back to East and to West again.  So zoning helps to solve a lot of problem, at least to make some part of this state to believe that they are part and parcel of the state. If you didn’t give them the opportunity, it will look as if they are being discriminated against and is not the best.

How will you assess the performance of Governor Chime after seven years in office?

Well, in terms of the infrastructural development, the man has done excellently well.  But in terms of security I don’t know whether to say that he has a pass mark there because the type of killing in the state surpassed any government in the past.  The kind of death we recorded in this administration is beyond what we have recorded in any other past administration.

I don’t know where to place him, whether to say he has pass mark but for the fact that there is relative peace, night life and what have you, you can give him a pass mark.  But like the issue of death, killing, they are more in this administration than any administration in the past. I don’t know if anybody can come out with concrete number of people that have been eliminated.

So in terms of education, he tried in the sense that vehicles are provided for all these secondary schools and free education too. And at least he has a pass mark.

In terms of human development, Sullivan failed woefully. In terms of human relationship Sullivan failed woefully.  In terms of public relationship Sullivan failed woefully. So in a class of that they have so many subjects and so many courses and you have excellent in some, and fail in many and aggregate in some, your guess is as good as mine.  Party politics failure.  The kind of politics we are doing now has never happened.  Even when we were in Chimaroke’s administration he still allows people to have access with the structure.

But this man holds everybody and locked everybody with key and it is only him that has access to the structure.  It is wrong, that is not how politics is done.  It is going to create problem.  By the time problem will come, he will remember I have said this.  By the time this paper gets to him, he will remember this thing I am saying today.  We have been in this game before him. I know he is  a governor but I must tell him the truth.

I have respect for him but I must tell him. The kind of party politics he is playing is too dangerous and it is going to boomerang.  He holds the structure; he doesn’t allow anybody to have access to it.

Look at what happened in Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).  If not FIFA Maigari would have been in problem. He pigeon hold the structure and refused to allow anybody have access to the structure. Is that kind of politics he is playing.  By the time the problem started if not that we were all there helping Maigari, using press to make FIFA hear our voice, Magari would have been consumed.

At a point I called Maigari and warned him, and I followed him notwithstanding that he was on the floor.  Eventually, he has won now.

The type of politics Sullivan is playing in Enugu state as a governor is dangerous.  He is doing it with Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo who happens to be my wife, because the wife of my brother is also my own wife. But the kind of politics she is playing with Sullivan is too dangerous.  By the time they start realizing what they have done to themselves, it would have been too late.

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