Former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has flayed members of the Imo State House of Assembly over their reported rejection of the proposed amendment Bill seeking financial autonomy for the Local Governments.
The Bill was forwarded to all the 36 State Assemblies by the National Assembly for their concurrence as part of the process of altering some identified clauses in the Constitution. The National Assembly had proposed an amendment to the Constitutional provision that hitherto guarantees State Joint Local Government Accounts. The amendment Bill which was opposed by Imo lawmakers sought that the joint account be set aside such that each Local Government would be able to operate special and distinct accounts thereby pushing to secure financial Independence for the Third Tier of government
Rt. Hon. Ihedioha described the failure of Imo State House of Assembly to ratify the Bill as outlandish, unacceptable and against the interest and aspiration of the generality of the people many of whom according to him reside at the Local communities.
He noted that the action of the lawmakers had demonstrated that they are insensitive to the plights of the wide spectrum of the local people who rely on the Local Governments for their livelihoods, social amenities and other facilities for survival.
He regretted that the action of Imo lawmakers constituted a clog towards democratizing, with a view to ensuring the independence of the Local Government system as a third tier government.
Advising other State Assemblies in the country to ignore the action of Imo lawmakers and validate the Bill to ensuring its passage, he stated, “that the enactment of the Bill would impact positively on the local councils in meeting their basic objectives which include; job creation and empowerment of the rural people; accelerated rural development through provision of social amenities.”
Rt. Hon. Ihedioha however observed that the insensitive manner the Imo State Assembly voted has shown that they did not consult with their constituents on such a crucial matter that borders on representation. He said: “If the House members had consulted their constituents on such a very sensitive Bill, the result certainly would have been different as they would have unanimously thrown their weight behind autonomy for the Local Government as the panacea for inclusive grassroots participation and sustainable development”.
An avowed believer and promoter of LG autonomy, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as the Imo State PDP Governorship candidate in the 2015 general elections, stated in his published manifesto christened; together we will Rebuild Imo; Article 3 Paragraph C, thus; “When elected into office, our government will ensure that the Local Government Councils in Imo State are accountable, transparent and responsive to the needs of the grassroots through restoration of democratically elected councils”.
He added, “Under my watch, the autonomy of the Local Government administration shall not be compromised, as Local Governments will be encouraged to justify their mandates in the service of the people. We will also ensure that statutory allocations are released to Local Government Councils and that they function effectively.”
Rt. Hon. Ihedioha reiterated his commitment towards making the Independence and sustainability of the Local Councils part of his cardinal objectives when elected Governor in 2019.
He is of the view that, by allowing itself to be goaded by the whims of Governor Rochas Okorocha, who has grossly stifled the LGAs of their funds and functions, leading to their total collapse, the State Assembly has yet, in acts suggestive of a collaborator, trivialized an important issue.
He is however full of appreciation for the dissenting minority PDP members led by Hon. Ken Agbim, for standing with the people, assuring that posterity will be kind to them for their position.
Rt. Hon. Ihedioha enjoins Imolites to remain resilient and alert to the desperate manipulations of the APC led government to keep them in perpetual penury as he is as concerned as all well meaning Imolite over the affairs of the state. He assures his optimism that the government of our dream will take over come 2019.