SPECIAL REPORT: HOW TO DEVELOPE NIGERIA USING THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS
-V2P comes to the rescue -Importance of credible LGA elections
Media House, Politicians, Civil Society Organizations gathered recently at De Geogold Hotel and Suites Akwa, under the V2P Voice to the people Programme on political Awareness organised by the JDPC Awka to deliberate on the way forward for developing Nigeria using the Local Government Areas.
Speaking at the event, Mr Okey Onyeka of Civil Rights Concern focused on Local Government Areas in Anambra State, which he says are facing many challenges, hence the necessity of the programme, to sensitize stakeholders on importance of Local Government Area Administration, free and fair Local Government election, and for Anambra State to hold LGA elections.
He stated that LGA’s have had several setbacks in Nigeria, section 77 of the Nigeria constitution has not really provided for effective LGA administration, leaving it to the states. I n 2003 Federal Government tried to make things better, but it was reversed by the supreme court. LGA’s is one of the drain pipes from which resources are wasted. We need to campaign for effective LGA Administration. States dominate LGAs, THEY SHOULD GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO PERFORM.
In a presentation on LGA elections and administration by Associate Professor Dr Frank Collins Nnamdi Okafor, he stated that the problem of LGA is a grand conspiracy by elite class to keep the masses underdeveloped, alienated and disorderly by politicians, through the non conduct of LGA elections in almost all South East States, particularly Anambra State.It is not negotiable.
The main purpose of LGA is to provide and administer service independently and the management of affairs of the people by their people. There is an urgent need for consistent council elections in Anambra State. The LGA’s stands tallest among the three tiers of government and are more accessable to the people. Its essence is synonymous with democracy.
He said that he finds it difficult to understand why successive government in Anambra State, find it difficult to conduct LGA elections. 14 years ago, Local government elections held by military government was done properly .
Gov. Peter Obi performed below average in this regard and he had earlier criticized Gov. Chris Ngige on same issue, when elected he failed to have council elections.
IMPORTANCE OF LGA ELECTIONS
According to Associate Professor. Okafor, LGA elections gives the people a sense of belonging as stakeholders by participation through elected representatives. The elected have a responsibility to the masses. It becomes more productive, as elected chairmen and councilors fear the next elections which caretaker executives don’t fear. It also ensures more stability in the state as tensions are doused.
A caretaker management at the LGA’s is against principles of powers-no checks and balances. It is anti development. The Governors usurps their power and responsibilities and impunity reigns.
STATE GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE
Engr. Aniegbo Antony of vanguard for good governance in his contribution revealed that interference by State Government in Administration of LGA is very condemnable. Some claim that LG Chairman misappropriates funds, even state governments misappropriate funds also .Local Government Areas in Nigeria are like ministry in the state. The States spend LG’s money.
Okey Onyeka of Civil Rights Concern (CRC) revealed in his contribution that the action of states in LGA matters is a breach of the constitution. They could be used in court. Those who did the 199 constitution created loopholes which the states are taking advantages of until constitution is amended LGA’s would continue to have problems.
FORMER LG CHAIRMAN SPEAK
Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu (City Major), Ex Chairman of Awka South LGA in Anambra State, cliamed that the last LGA elections in Anambra were not properly conducted and transparent. What we have is the ruling party winning all LG and councilors positions, nothing positive can come out of it. 10 % of IGR from state is suppose to go LGA but is not being implemented but the states take allocations of LGA. No way can state or FG develop rural areas like LGA. All avenues of IGR For LGA have been taken over by state government like Levies, taxes etc.
Another former LGA Chairman of Idemili North LGA, Barr, Okey Muo Aroh (Ike Abatete) explained that those who made constitution made a land mine against democratically elected LGA Chairman and called for amendment of constitution so that Local Goverenments could be autonomous.
The JDPC project manager in Onitsha MR Uche Madubuko in his contribution ,called for credible elections and qualitative local government administration, allowing for proper representation. At the moment, they are no funds at the local government to carry out projects and LG administrations are handicapped.
Most media houses in Anambra State participated in the forum, together with civil Society organization like Development in practice, Community Empowerment project, Civil Rights Concern ,State Accountability Voice Initiative, Christan Aid Women Action Committee, JPDC Akwa, JPDC Onitsha , JPDC Nnewi and government officials like state director NOA, Dr Denis Ekemezie, representing by Sir Joe Uchendu, Abraham Okoye Liason on Civil Society organization in Anambra State House of Assembly.