The non-conduct of local government election in Anambra State for years has been generating discordant tunes among stakeholders in the state, with some threatening that they would not allow the governorship election to be held in the state should Governor Willie Obiano fail to conduct local council election.
On March 17, 2022, Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, will serve out his two tenures of eight years as governor of Anambra State.
He was sworn-in on March 17, 2014, for the first tenure and the second tenure on March 17, 2018.
No council election has been held by the Obiano’s administration less than a year to the end of his two tenures of eight years.
This situation has led to the recent calls on the governor to conduct local council elections before he leaves office.
However, Obiano inherited a contraption called elected local government officials from his predecessor, Peter Obi.
Obi had only, in his eight years, conducted one local government election in the twilight of his regime.
Given that Mr Obi who anointed Obiano as a successor only conducted one local government poll in his last year in office, Obiano is likely to follow suit or may not conduct at all.
Meanwhile, agitations for the conduct of local council elections in the state are gaining momentum as various groups have called on the governor to immediately conduct the poll.
According to them, if the governor refuses to conduct the local council poll, he probably becomes the first governor in the country to govern a state for eight years without conducting any local government election.
According to the people, non-conduct of local council polls is denying people at the grassroots level the opportunity to participate in governance.
It could be recalled that one of the reasons that pitched Governor Obiano against Prince Arthur Eze and some traditional rulers in the state was the non-conduct of local government election.
Eze had gathered some traditional rulers and told them that the non-conduct of the local poll was denying them some of their rightful allocations from the federal government through local government.
Those monarchs who supported the position of Prince Eze and went to Abuja with him to complain to the president about the development were suspended for one year by the governor.
The government, however, said that the traditional rulers were suspended for travelling outside the state without getting permission from the relevant authorities.
Some of them have since been reinstated while others have been dethroned or are even dead.
Meanwhile, a group known as Recover Nigeria Project (RNP) has said it would disrupt the Anambra State 2021 governorship election if Governor Willie Obiano refuses to conduct local government election before the governorship election.
The coordinator of the group, comrade Osita Obi, told our correspondent in Awka, the Anambra State capital, that it was wrong for the governor to deny the people at the local government the right to participate in governance.
He said, “How come in the last seven years of Governor Obiano’s administration, nobody is talking about local government elections. I want to be a councillor in my ward because I have the potential I want to display. Others in the various local governments have their potential also to showcase and why deny me and others the right to participate in governance?
“If elections cannot be conducted at local governments, why must there be an election for governor? If the governor thinks that the only thing that is good for the third tier of government is caretaker, there must also be a caretaker governor in Anambra State. In fact, what we need now in the state is the caretaker governor and not elected governor.
“These people are denying me my right to be a local government councillor in my ward.
“I have written to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, asking them not to conduct the Anambra State governorship election until Obiano conducts local government election in the state.
“We will disrupt the election and we are ready to lay our lives for this project. For the governorship election to be conducted without local government election, Obiano will have to kill us first. There is no basis to conduct a governorship election and deny others their political rights to participate in politics.”
On the excuse by the government that some people are challenging them in court, he asked: “If the president or INEC refuses to conduct governorship election in the state because some drag the president to court to compel him to conduct election and he refused, will there not be crises in the country?
According to him, non-engagement of the youths at the local government was majorly responsible for the high rate of crimes in the state, noting that if there is local government election, jobs will be created for the youths and crime rate will be reduced.
Obi said that Anambra’s worsening security situation is traceable to many idle youths, who were denied their right to be engaged in politics due to non-conduct of local council elections.
He said that the state government has taken over the functions of local government collecting money in the parks and from motorcyclists, thereby leaving the people at the local level without any consideration.
“My finding shows that they refused to conduct the local government election because of the federal allocations to council which they have hijacked.
“It is the money interest and not the court they always cite as reason for the non-conduct of local government election.
We will still demand them to account for all the local government money they have collected. Nigeria is changing and they must account for it one day,” he said.
Also in a letter written to the INEC commissioner in Awka and copied the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, and Director, Department of State Security, DSS; Obi who is also the coordinator of Movement for Conduct of Local government Election in Anambra State said his members will disrupt the conduct of governorship election in the state if no local government election was conducted
The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, said that the government cannot conduct any local government election when a case is before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
According to him, the state government must respect the law of the land and would not do anything that is pre-judicial.
He said that the government was not afraid of conducting local government elections but respecting the law of the land.
On what were the prayers of those that took the government to court that led to the non-conduct of local government election, he said, “The court action predates my commissionership and I do not have the full detail.”
One of the people who are waiting for the time to contest for the councillorship position, Mr. Uche Nweke, said the non-conduct of the election has denied him of actualising his ambition.
“I graduated from the university seven years ago and there is no work. I hope to start my political career from the local government but the government is not opening up the space for us. They only use their cronies to run the affairs of the council”, he said.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Publicity Secretary in Anambra State, Nnamdi Nwangwu, while reacting to the non-conduct of local government election, said the action of the government was detrimental to the development of the state.
According to him, the party condemned it in its entirety, saying that the non-conduct of the local polls is one of the major reasons fuelling insecurity in the state.
Nwangwu said that if the elected local government officials are in place, it would help to create jobs for the youths and get them engaged actively and they will have no time to think of engaging themselves in violent crime.
He said the government of the day is not interested in grassroots development and hence, not doing anything to conduct the third tier election.
On his part, the Publicity Secretary of Congress of Civil Society Groups in Anambra State, Comrade Damian Ogudike, described the non-conduct of local government election in the state as criminal and undemocratic.
According to him, there is a need to have democratically elected local government officials in the state.
He said since the governor has failed to conduct the election all along, it means that he does not believe in the rule of law and the grassroots development.
On the excuse that the government does not want to do anything pre-judicial, he differed, saying, “Who are those that took the government to court and what are their prayers?”
Ogudike said there is nobody who can go to court and ask the governor not to conduct local government elections, adding that the governor and his agents must be those behind the so-called court process in order not to conduct the election.
“In fact, the governor is the person sponsoring those he claims took the government to court. There is no way any person can take the government to court, praying that it should not conduct local government elections. And there is no court that can order the government to be using caretaker committees in local administration in place of elected council officials.
“How can he refuse to conduct local government polls even when the Supreme Court and the president have ordered for the conduct of local government elections in the federation,” he said.
(Source: Daily Trust)