Sunny Nwankwo, Aba
The leadership of the Abia State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has given three months deadline to the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu led administration to hold local government election in the 17 local councils in the state.
The Nation reports that Abia State is one of the states in the country who in the past 8years have been using Transition Committee Chairman to run local government administration.
Meanwhile, political watchers and activists in the state have condemned the inability of the state government to hold local government election since it came to power, stressing that such action was counterproductive to good governance and tenets of democracy.
APC in a release by the State Publicity Secretary, Comrade Benedict Godson on Saturday said that the call for local government election has become expedient because of the negative effect of using Transition Committee Chairmen to run government in the third tier is having on delivering democratic dividends to the people at the grassroots.
Godson stated that the APC in the state can no longer watch while Abia State wallows in the wilderness of underdevelopment over the inability of the state government to hold local government.
The APC Publicity Secretary, who stated that the PDP led government in the state was afraid that they would lose the council areas to APC, boasted that the party will sweep the poll if the state government decides to hold local government election in the state.
Godson who accused the state government of using the Transition Committee system as a platform of settling their cronies and political associates lamented that Abia cannot develop with Transition Committee Chairmen heading the LGAs administration in the state.
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“Abia is our state. We are Abians and Abia is part of Nigeria. In Nigeria, we practice the Federal System of Government which constitutionally gave us three tiers of government; Federal, State and Local Government.
“It’s expected that everyone who must head any of the tiers whether on executive or legislative capacity should be elected by the people, but currently one is appointed.
“Unfortunately, the one that’s appointed is the one that’s more closer to the people. Almost all the problems we’re having today from economy to security can be linked to ineffective local government administration
“As a party, we’ve thought about it, as Abians we’ve had enough of it and as Nigerian we deem it expedient to call on the Abia State Government to as a matter of necessity, organize a local government election within three months for us to elect our chairmen and councilors.
“This call has become urgently important because we can no longer watch our dear state wallow in the wilderness of underdevelopment while other parts of this country are sitting right inside the paradise of democracy.
“Let nobody get this twisted, LGA election will benefit everyone. It’s t a one party affair. Almost everybody will be happy for it. This is an Abia affair and we must face it squarely.
“As the third tier of government in Nigeria, the local government is often paid scant attention by political pundits and media which have allowed some persons to use it as a channel for compensating political loyalists.
“We’ve discovered that the less attention given to LGAs have actually been taken as an advantage by some persons to milk our state dry.
“Our people must realize that 17 Council Chairmen appointed by a Governor are more answerable to him than even his commissioners and aides.
“Abia cannot develop with Transition Committee Chairmen heading our LGAs. It’s time for us to decide who should lead us in our various local government.
“TC-Chairmen are not useful in good democracy. Whenever the state government is underperforming, they too will do nothing because, they’re responding to the system that appointed them.
“If we elect our council chairmen and our councilors you’ll be shocked that some of them will perform better than the state government in handling their own affairs.
“Honestly, we believe that if the Abia State government means well for our people, this is time to let Abians elect people who should handle their local affairs.”
On the fear that some Local Governments may not be able to pay workers’ wage bills under an elected Local Government Council Chairman, the APC Abia State scribe said “Who said Arochukwu LGA cannot take care of themselves with their allocation? Who said Ukwa East and Ukwa West cannot grade and reconstruct dilapidated roads scattered all over the two LGAs?
“Who is that person that will say that Isuikwuato, Umunneochi and Bende LGAs cannot organize a good natural/local technique of managing and controlling the deadly gully erosion threatening them?
“Who said Aba South, Aba North, Umuahia South and Umuahia North with their huge allocations and business premises around cannot handle the unhygienic conditions of our two urban cities better?
“Even the insecurity challenges we’re currently facing can be tackled properly with responsible LGA Chairmen liaising with the Ministry of Homeland Security, community kings and Divisional Police Headquarters in the LGA to form and fund local vigilantes.
“Just like we have what they call Federal and State roads, I’m sure we should have Local Government roads and with proper election, these Chairmen will love to serve well and build a better political profile.
“We as a party are hoping to have an Abia where someone can build his political career from LGA Chairman to Governor through performance and management of LGA resources for the betterment of the people.
“We call on the media, civil society groups and the general public alike to rise up and join the All Progressives Congress, Abia State Chapter in demanding for LGA election because it’s long overdue.
“I don’t see why LGA staff should be complaining of salaries when their allocations are coming in every month. Our LGAs have become channels through which money meant for development of our state is siphoned and shared among masters and servants.
“After every election, the state Governor will appoint stooges who played one role or the other for them during the election as TC-Chairmen and these people give the Governor Local Government allocation as a birth right.
“If we have a local government election in Abia and you see elected chairmen receiving allocations directly without the current interference, there’ll be competition to develop and make impact.
“It will be more interesting when different political parties win two to three LGAs. People will see that we’ve been missing a lot for so long. LGA election will help Abia and we urge everyone that love the state to make this a topical issue.
“Therefore, APC as a strong opposition in the state and a party that has the interest of Abians at heart, call on the PDP administration in Abia State led by Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to organize an LGA election at least by May this year.”