The Sullivan Chime Era

Sullivan Chime. 

Title: An Honour to Serve: Enugu State in the Sullivan Years
Publisher: Bookcraft, Ibadan
Editor: Tony Onyima
Year of Publication: 2018
Pagination: 456


Comely, humane, urbane and self-effacing: such qualities are usually associated with the make-believe world where the artist has the latitude to delineate an ideal hero without hubris. Among the Nigerian political class, it is almost a wishful thinking to find such real-life archetype to lionise, for our politicians, going by recent precedents, tend more towards the nondescript character whose dispositions and actions elicit odium and ridicules.

However, Barrister Sullivan Iheanacho Chime, former Enugu State Governor, is one of the few exceptions. “I saw a beautiful Enugu as a child and I later saw it go down. I knew we had the capacity to rebuild Enugu. That was the passion that drove my government,” the ex-governor admits on page 29 of a new book documenting his eight years in the Lion Building, Enugu State (May 29, 2007 – May 29, 2015), edited by Tony Onyima, an accomplished media practitioner.

In a 456-page and 14-chapter glossy package, the book recounts that the Sullivan Chime administration was predicated on a Four-Point Agenda, the details of which are fleshed out in the fourth chapter of the book –“The Promise”. They include Physical Infrastructure (comprising road, housing, water and electricity), Economic Expansion and Employment, Rural Development, and Service Delivery. From the fifth to the thirteenth chapter, the reader is regaled with giant strides of the highflyer with accompanying pictorial evidences.

By 2015, when he left office, the promise had been fulfilled to a very large extent, according to the book. Chime, working in concert with a team of committed commissioners and aides, left indelible footprints to serve as a model in modern-day statecraft. Chime easily stands out in the class of 2007-2015 governors with his many innovative and groundbreaking initiatives. Some of these outstanding achievements can be highlighted under his Four-Point agenda.

His Enugu urban renewal under the Physical Infrastructure agenda still attracts accolades even years after leaving office. From its previous colonial outlook, Chime gave Enugu metropolis a total makeover in terms of look and feel. Most of the major roads in the metropolis were expanded and re-developed. The massive road construction and re-development was complemented with construction of modern bridges, such as Nyama Bridge, Zik Avenue Twin Bridge, and underpass at Enugu-Abakiliki Road. Akwata, a challenging terrain in Enugu metropolis, was transformed, against all expectations.

The book recounts that all the roads constructed were also fitted with modern road furniture such as signs, markings, drainages, reflective road guards, bus shelters, etc. The success of the accompanying “Light Up Enugu” was so groundbreaking that it led to Enugu being recognised as the city in the country with the highest number of streetlights. At the end of his eight-year tenure, Chime’s administration constructed over 1,159 kilometers of urban and rural roads. Out of this figure, the different local governments collectively constructed and asphalted 232.596 kilometers of roads while the state government collaborated with the local councils to construct 299.4 kilometers of roads. The state government alone constructed 295 kilometers of urban roads and 332 kilometers of rural roads.

Chime’s physical infrastructural revolution, details the book, also touched the housing sector tremendously. He initiated and supervised the building of twenty-four housing estates in the state, the first of its kind in the history of Enugu State. In most of these estates, his government provided sites and services like roads (59 kilometers of asphalted), drainages (111 kilometers), streetlights, walkways, electricity (38 transformers), water reticulation, etcetera. Some of the estates include Coal City Gardens, Liberty Estates (Phases 1 and 2), Greenland Estate, Maryland Estate, Palm Beach Estate, Sunrise Estate, Ekulu East and the Centenary City. Just as he was developing housing estates in Enugu city and across the state, he didn’t leave public buildings behind.

Also, a new state-of-the art State Secretariat with thirteen complex structures housing all the ministries was built. He not only constructed a new Governor’s Office (The Lion Building) in Enugu but also constructed a Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja. Today, when you navigate the major streets of Enugu on Google, it is thanks to the “Enugu Virtual Streets” project embarked by his administration, working in tandem with Google.

In implementing his Four-Point Agenda, the Sullivan Chime administration, chronicles the book, brought many innovations to bear on governance. His government carried out a comprehensive reform of land administration by digitally archiving every single file. The Ministry of Lands was repositioned for increased efficiency; the process of transfer of titles and mortgages was enhanced; while all land titles in the state were revalidated. Needless to say, he ensured that the foundation for Enugu State Geoid was laid by establishing Geodetic Controls.

Under the title of “Service to the People”, chapter six of the book details Chime administration’s strides in transportation, health, waste management, education and security. With a revamped road infrastructure, the administration introduced the Enugu Taxi Scheme, which was popularly called “Sullivan Taxi”. All the 720 vehicles in the scheme were given out to unemployed youths under an incentivized repayment arrangement. A color scheme and numbering system was initiated for the taxi scheme, while the state-owned transport company, ENTRACO, was revamped.

Likewise, the Coal City Transport Services was given a massive boost with 50 air-conditioned buses. Under its Strategic Health Development plan, government paid for all expenses for care of the pregnant woman, child delivery and the child till age of five. As a consequence, there was a surge in maternal care attendance in the state. This maternal and child care scheme was unique to Enugu State, because, in other states, only child delivery was free, families paid for antenatal and child immunization. The state also established the Enugu State Medical Emergency Response Team (ESMERT). Equipped with 25 state-of-the-art Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances, ESMERT was used to respond to road traffic and home medical emergencies.

As part of its Strategic Health Development Plan, the Chime administration, in 2009, started the construction of an ultra-modern diagnostic center in Enugu, named after Dr. Simon Ezevue Onwu, an Enugu native and the first person of Igbo extraction to be qualified as a medical doctor. The administration also upgraded the Enugu State University of Science and Technology Teaching Hospital, Park Lane, which went on to graduate its first set of medical doctors after many years of being in the limbo. In addition, he implemented the district health system as adopted by the National Council of Health, dividing the state into seven health districts for efficiency. His administration engaged 1,000 health officers, renovated old and built new heath centers across the state.

The Chime administration, according to the book, re-organised the state’s waste management authority to sanitise and enforce cleanliness in the state. The state purchased a total of 37 quality heavy-duty compactors used in ridding the streets of filth of all sorts, such as household refuse, abandoned vehicles, industrial and drainage wastes, etc. The state acquired three heavy-duty road sweepers and thus became the first state in Nigeria to use street sweepers to improve efficiency and make street cleaning work easier.

The chroniclers of An Honour to Serve: Enugu State in the Sullivan Years do not leave anybody in doubt about the giant strides recorded in education. Chime’s administration, we learn, initiated the Volunteer Teachers’ Scheme in which retired school teachers were recruited to teach in underserved communities, as well as the School Linkage Programme, which partnered schools in the UK with a select number of schools in Enugu. Thirty thousand new primary and secondary school teachers were recruited, while over 10,000 teachers in all the 1,223 public primary schools received one-year training. Under his watch, still, Enugu State became the first state to carry out a statewide school-based deworming exercise for its public school pupils.

In addition, the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) made it a priority to distribute textbooks and other teaching materials to schools. The book informs us that he made education free from primary to junior secondary in the state. It also recounts that the state tertiary institutions were repositioned, with Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) and Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) as major beneficiaries. In the same vein, he established the College of Education Technical, Enugu State, which is now fully accredited. College of Agriculture, Iwollo was also set up.

In designing its development agenda, the Sullivan Chime administration was guided by international best practices. One of its 4-point agenda, service delivery and good governance forms the thrust of chapter seven of the book. Specifically, the administration set out to revamp law and order, general security, public service empowerment, citizens’ participation in governance, promotion of transparency in fiscal management and institutional reforms. In securing the state, the administration built strong partnerships with security agencies such as the police, army, air force and the Department of State Security.

The most important outcome of this partnership was that Enugu State was adjudged the state with the least crime rate in the country in 2013 by Alhaji M. D. Abubakar, the then Inspector-General of Police. Also Security Watch Africa, a non-governmental organisation, at her annual awards held in Dubai on November 14, 2014, picked Enugu State’s Neighborhood Watch as the “most outstanding community policing in West Africa”. It is on record that Enugu State, during Chime’s tenure, was the first state in Nigeria to make kidnapping a capital offence. With the support of Justice for All (J4A), an intervention program run by DfID, Enugu State became the first state to establish a Witness Support Unit. The Sexual Assault Referral Centre was also established.

Perhaps his background as a lawyer helped much, as Enugu State became the first to establish the Bail Information Center. Under Chime’s watch as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the state’s laws were revised. This chapter also details citizens’ inclusion initiative of Chime administration such as the unique Visit Every Community aimed at ascertaining the immediate needs of communities; involvement of town unions in governance process and recognition of traditional rulers as central pillars in societal engineering. He also constituted the Council of Elders, comprising of eminent citizens from the state, who met periodically to rub minds and offer ideas to the governor.

One of the sore points of governance in Nigeria today is consistent inability of most state governments to regularly conduct elections into local government administrations. Enugu State under Chime was perhaps the only outstanding exception, as we find discover here. “We conducted the first local government election few months after my inauguration in 2007. We conducted four of such elections every two years before we left office – 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. It was also a way of ensuring citizens’ inclusion; of ensuring that the people were allowed to have their real representatives at the local government level,” Chime is quoted as saying in the book.

In contrast to what is happening in most of the states, Chime ensured the autonomy of local governments in Enugu State as prescribed by the constitution and the state law, which enabled the LGAs to embark on accelerated provision of infrastructure, using the state’s Economic Planning Commission as an interface to approve projects jointly executed by the state and the third tier of government. The Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) was established by law by the Chime administration to be the implementation and regulatory arm of all the agencies that had anything to do with urban development.

ECTDA’s achievements under Chime include the following: Enugu pay-and-display project for state traffic management system; special development control team on illegal buildings, buildings on water ways and street trading; and automation of the building plan approval process by capturing of all building plans in the system. Others include data gathering on the number of communication masts, petrol filling stations, and the number of banks and hotels. The high point was the enlistment of Enugu as one of the 100 Resilient Cities in the world by Rockefeller Foundation in 2014 out of the 331 cities applicants in the world.

Passionate about an Enugu State that worked, and determined to return her pride, Sullivan, with the benefit of experience both in life and in government, resolved to expand the state’s economy through serious planning, improving on her agriculture, tapping the cultural and tourism potentials, and industrialisation. Chime’s economic expansion agenda is aptly captured in chapter eight. The economy also boomed as the ex-governor created an avenue for private and public enterprises to thrive. State owned industries, like Sunrise Flour Mills, Niger Gas, the Presidential Hotel and Ikenga Hotels, were privatised.

The state, in addition, witnessed a micro, small and medium enterprises revolution during his tenure. According to the book, the Sullivan Chime administration, joining forces with local governments and the Central Bank of Nigeria, raised billions of naira to fund MSMEs in Enugu State, with a sizeable number of them going into packaging and value addition of products, which guaranteed exportability. The Enugu State Industrial Park, Emene and Enugu State Trade Free Zone came into existence, in partnership with a Chinese company, Golmark. With the commissioning of the Polo Park Mall in 2013 by the Sullivan Chime administration, it became the biggest mall in Nigeria, and the Enugu Power and Energy Industrial Zone around 9th Mile teed off, too

In this well researched publication, you will find everything you need to know about the Enugu commercial agriculture success story. Large scale agriculture got a fillip under his watch as the state governor. Thus, the Enugu San Carlos Farms, a large-scale pineapple grower meant to make the state a major exporter, stretching from Ihe through Amoli in Awgu LGA, Umuabi and Umuaga in Udi LGA to Achi in Oji River LGA, began to thrive. Also was the Songhai Agriculture initiative at Heneke, Ibinofia Ndi Uno in Ezeagu LGA. His era, in addition, witnessed the massive expansion and renovation of Adani Farm Settlement in Uzo Uwani LGA, with the establishment of a new rice mill there, together with a new road linking it, which resulted in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture designating Adani a staple crop-processing zone. Also, his government’s establishment of the College of Agriculture and Entrepreneurship in the state was recorded to be the first of its kind in Nigeria.

Reading this book, you will also be fascinated by the role the ex-governor played in upgrading the Akanu Ibiam Airport to an international airport. In 2009, he secured the approval of the extension of the runway from 2,400 to 3000 meters, and the width from 45 to 60 meters to accommodate wide-body aircraft, while re-asphalting the runway. A brand new terminal was also built in keeping with international standard. By August 23, 2013, an excited Chime witnessed the arrival of an Ethiopian Airlines flight at the airport, thus, crystallising to reality a struggle that began over five decades ago.

While he was in office, the former governor, the book tells us, ensured that civil servants were paid salaries on the 25th of every month as a way of strengthening the public service, and pension arrears owed to civil servants were cleared. His administration equally recalled 5,000 civil servants disengaged from service by the previous administration in the state. Civil servants deserving of promotions got just that in the course of regular promotion exercises. The Office of the Head of Service ensured that continuous training exercises were affected. A total of 524 housing units were provided for different cadres of civil servants. Above all, the state became the first in the country to pay the new minimum wage.

Prudence and strict fiscal management became his watchword, cognizant of the fact that the Enugu State monthly allocation was not comparable to Lagos, Port Harcourt or Rivers State. With Enugu State Pay-Direct Account System, he was able to block revenue leakages, hence, generating billions of naira within a short time of its implementation. In fact, many projects executed by his government, like the new Enugu State Secretariat, were funded with internally generated revenue account.

Under his tenure, Enugu also became a tourist destination. Nollywood harnessed the potentials of the state as an ideal location for shooting movies, the government having made it a secure and conducive place to inhabit and explore. Part of his vision to make Enugu an ideal destination for tourism was the creation of Ministry of Culture and Tourism out of the Ministry of Information. Thus, the Enugu Road Block, an annual event that showcased the best Nigerian talents in music and comedy, became a new national rave.

In the judicial sector, twenty-five new magistrates were appointed during his tenure in each of the 17 LGAs in the state as the customary courts in the state increased from under 60 to 150. Also, his administration established the Customary Court of Appeal and appointed a President and seven judges. Among others, it built a befitting edifice for the Judicial Service Commission and a massive auditorium within the High Court premises.

These achievements are just a tip of the iceberg. His tenure, from facts on ground, was nothing short of an Olympian spell. With the passage of time, memories can fade. But a well-documented vista lives with us and with generations unborn. This is what An Honour to Serve: Enugu State in the Sullivan Years, a book that chronicles a storied renaissance, intends to achieve.

Placed on the table of any aspiring Nigerian or African leader, it can get him cracking, for, as the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Professor Chinedu Nebo, pens in “The Renaissance of the Coal City”, a poem in the book: Coal City damsel… you now awake, groggy eyed, though/ Alluring looks, mimicking the famed portrait/ Of Mona Lisa legend.