Friday, November 15, 2013

Outrageous News From Enugu Govt House

She had it at her beck and call: A retinue of aides, a battery of
security men and the opulence a Government House reflects in this part
of the world. But all these could not prevent Clara Chime, wife of
Enugu Governor, Sullivan Chime, from crying out for help in an
apparently abusive marriage. SHAKA MOMODU looks at her travails and
asks if hers is not a reflection of what goes on within the confines
of many state Government Houses in the country
Last week the nation's political space was sensationally punctuated by
a grin and grisly development from South-eastern state of Enugu . A
foul stench from the Enugu Government House oozed out from the closet
and permeated the national space. Stirring public consternation amid
shock and bewilderment quickly followed by indignation. As the number
one citizen of the state, Governor Sullivan Chime, and his wife,
Clara, squared up in a fight to finish battle in full public glare. It
all came to the fore when the first lady raised alarm that she was
being held hostage by her husband who is the governor of the state.
In a petition to the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, her
lawyer, Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, detailed
instances of abuse, molestation, psychological torture, inhumane
treatment perpetrated against her for over a period of four years
under the guise that she suffered a medical condition. It was an SOS
cry not just to the NHRC, but to all Nigerians to save her from her
powerful husband who is protected by Section 308 of the 1999
constitution against prosecution. It was an unprecedented development
that the wife of a sitting governor would cry out from the glitz,
glamour and power of her position to be rescued from her husband.
The couple grabbed headlines in all the major newspapers as each side
tried to win public support for his or her position. But clearly the
wife of the governor was the underdog in this fight and naturally
attracted public sympathy. A shocked nation was initially hesitant;
unsure of what to make of the development, but shock quickly gave way
to outrage as calls for a probe became strident.
Clara Chime's ordeal is not new as many can testify to. Many women go
through such ordeals on a daily basis from their abusive husbands,
relatives and boyfriends.
More often than not it is hidden from the public, friends and close
confidants. The victims choose this option believing that things will
change for the better at some point. But in nearly all cases they
never do; and from experience things only grow worse as Chime's wife
has painfully found out. According to her, she would have walked away
from the marriage during the period Chime was sick and was away for
five months, but remained on "very compassionate grounds" thinking
that the sickness would change the governor's ways towards her but
that he got worse months after his return from cancer treatment
According to her, on many occasions, she attempted to leave but her
family members, for pecuniary reasons, insisted she stayed put. After
packing out or was she bundled out of Chime's government house, this
was how she celebrated: "I regained my freedom to move around on
Saturday and I eventually forced my way out of that place (Government
House) today (Monday)."
She denied she was as sick as the governor wants the public to
believe. "I am not the one who is sick, but I became sick because of
the way I was treated. There are some things people would do to you
that make you sick or even die." She vowed never to go back to her
husband again.
"After treating myself, I will never go back there again. I will not
even wish my enemy to marry in that kind of place again."
Five years ago when the governor married her from the university, it
was all glitz and glamour, she was absolutely stunning in those
wedding photographs. She was an angel and to her, the governor was her
prince charming, irrespective of the fact that the governor had had a
failed marriage before hers. The governor spared no expense. Food,
drinks, champagne of all brand and grades were generously served as
dignitaries devoured the food like there was no tomorrow. There was
all night dancing and merriment, probably at taxpayers' expense to
make a show of his new found love and bride.
Clara must have been counted lucky to be the pick from millions of
young damsels craving for his excellency's attention. And her family
would have counted their blessings, "oh! It is the Lord's doing" and
must have been marvelous in their eyes until Clara cried out. And of
course not left out in the circle would have been Clara's friends who
would have been jostling to be seen as closest to her just to gain
favour. But it all came to pass so fast and within a year, cracks
emerged and the celebrated marriage began to fail
If she is to be believed that for four years she had no sexual contact
with her husband. What went so wrong? We may never know the secrets as
this may be buried in the often impregnable walls of marital secrecy
When the issue came to the fore, the NHRC team had come to Enugu,
sources said at the behest of the governor, and came out with
conflicting reports of their findings. While there was allegation of
mental instability, Clara said she was pretty okay while admitting
that what she had been subjected to was enough to make any woman go
bunkers. The family has also come out to vehemently reject the madness
issue. To them, it is absolute balderdash. Clara's mum, Madam Patience
Igwe, said there was no madness in her family.
"Do the people you are seeing here look like mad people? Or have you
seen any mad person since you came in? Please we don't have any mad
person here and nobody in our family has ever been mad. So, I don't
know where Enugu people got the story that Clara is mad."
Beyond the whole unfortunate incident is what the crying out of the
Enugu first lady tells about what goes on inside the impregnable walls
of Government Houses across the country and homes of the high and
mighty. While this is hardly reported, information has it that many
state chief executives have different women at their beck and call.
The sprawling compound that a Government House is and the adjoining
chalets scattered around the Government House grounds make
philandering on the part of many governors an easy vocation. Always
ready to serve as go-between are aides whose job is to arrange these
women or at times ferry them abroad whenever the governors are
travelling. There are also some who ensure that their female aides do
other chores outside those stipulated in their terms of engagement.
Sources say that most first ladies are aware of these escapades of
their governor husbands but usually choose to keep silent so as not to
attract scandals and unwanted attention. But in keeping silent, they
burn within and die instalmentally. Clara, the Enugu first lady's
case, might at the end of the day, may not be different. Perhaps, her
case will embolden other first ladies to come out and reveal the pain
and emotional trauma they bottle up behind those big head gears and
opulence, pomp and pageantry that their 'offices' bestow on them. A
lot, surely, will be revealed.
And this, again, is a warning to young women that the time honoured
saying that all that glitters is not gold is all so true. Perhaps,
Chime's estranged wife might have been carried away by the allures of
power, wealth and fame and failed to see that every coin has a flip
side. For four years, she claimed, there had not been any intimate
relationship between her and the husband. That could never be part of
what she bargained for when she said 'I do' to the governor, in a
marriage that has produced one son. Now that Clara has gotten her
fingers thoroughly burnt, she cannot but wish that this nightmare
passes away and she returns to her normal life. Perhaps, that life of
peace of mind, simplicity and contentment she had before the glitz of
first ladyship deprived her of her real life and joy.

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