The member representing Dunukofia local government in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon. Lawrence Ezeudu, on Tuesday, challenged Governor Charles Soludo to immediately conduct local government elections in the state.
For almost 7 years now in Anambra, the state government has been appointing transition committees to administer the affairs of the local government, a development many have condemned as stalling development at the grassroots.
Governor Soludo had at his inauguration in March, promised to reorganize the State Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC, to be able to conduct local government elections within 2 years.
However, the budget recently submitted by Prof. Soludo to the House for consideration, had no provision for conduct of local government election.
On Tuesday, Hon Ezeudu became the first lawmaker to challenge the negative pattern at the floor of the State House of Assembly, noting that the local government system in Anambra is near total collapse with the tradition of appointing transition committee in perpetuity.
Ezeudu, who had last year defected from the All progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, noted that Governor Soludo before his election last year, had assured that local government election was one of his major focus and that the election will take place within the shortest possible time, say six months.
“One of the major reasons governor Soludo was overwhelmingly voted for, was because he promised something different and assured that he was going to be accountable and set up systems through which every Anambra money can be duly accounted for.
“It is an anomaly that he has not started any such move.
“Worst still, the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission – ANSIEC, is not constituted.
“The last local government election in Anambra State was conducted in November 2013, by former governor Peter Obi,” he lamented.
Ezeudu regretted that the transition system in the local government does not allow for any form of accountability because those appointed to oversee public money do not have the mandate of the people to occupy their local governments.
“Mr. Speaker, we were voted in this House to represent our people and speak their minds.
“So when things are not going well, it calls for members that have personal explanation to give, to make bold and say it as it affects their constituency and Anambra State.
“The recurring decima of appointing transition committee in the local government, has made it appear as if we are co-conspirators in our own misfortune.
“I rise to speak truth to power. I have the mandate and instruction of my people to say no to this transition committee.
“This is a later day Trojan horse and we will not be elected to speak to power and we shy away from it,” Hon. Lawrence Ezeudu said.
The lawmaker also noted that Enugu and Delta states which are Anambra neigbours have been conducting local government election in their states, while in Anambra, the local government system is moribund.
He also wondered how “a level 14 staff would be a clerical officer in the Anambra state local government system”.
While urging the state legislature to wake from its slumber and reject the transition committee, Hon. Ezeudu said the same way the Federal Government sends state allocations to an elected governor and his Executive, is the same way local government funds are sent and ought to be managed by officials of the local government elected by the people.
“Mr. Governor was voted overwhelmingly because of the sense that he is going to instill due process and rule of law.
“I don’t know who is misleading the governor to continue on this path of placing people that are not accountable to their people to mortgage our joint patrimony.
“Mr. Speaker, we as honourable members must choose now if we want to speak for the people or we want to be called sycophants and rubber-stamp.
“I think it should stop now! We should choose to continue with this Trojan horse or instruct Mr. Governor to constitute a functional ANSIEC, while the civil service in the local government runs the system till a local government election is conducted.
“I stand on this parliament to say that history will judge us unfairly if we mortgage the general patrimony of our people to those that are not accountable to their people.
“Not on my name will I support any transition in this House, anymore,” Hon. Ezeudu said.
He suggested that as part of interim measures preparatory to the conduct of local government elections and handing over power to democratically elected officials, the Transition Committee Chairmen should immediately hand over to the Heads of Local Government Administration in their respective LGAs.