LGA Autonomy and Imo Legislative Sabotage

Posted by on Feb 22nd, 2018 and filed under Last-Line. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


The framers of Nigerian constitution created a country that operates a three tier system of government. Meaning that Nigeria will have the Federal, State and Local Governments.

In this wise, the three were meant to operate separately from interruptions and meddlesomeness from each other. In other words, while the Federal Government takes care at the National level, the States man the States, while Local Government Areas operate at the lowest level, dealing with the communities nay grass roots.

On paper, such a model is good and ought to spear-head rapid development of the Nation called Nigeria. It was tailored to be a root-to- top system of government. But in practice, what we have today in Nigeria is where the top controls the roots, which naturally is an aberration.

This is because, the tail can never wag the Dog, but instead it is the Dog that wags the tail. But in the Nigerian scenario, the leaders hardly operate with the constitution, but does what they like, and no questions are asked, and because of this, it becomes the norm.

Today, it can be assumed that instead of three tier system of Government, what we have in operation is a two tier system of Government leaving out the LGAs.

This is because, while the Federal Government corners all the powers, including that of the Economy, and dishes out stipends to States, the State grabs all that comes to them leaving the Local Government Areas empty handed.

The reason for this is the anomie associated with how Nigeria as a Federation operates out of the books, instead of following the rules as dictated in true Federalism, where the Federated Unions create the wealth themselves, and then give an agreed potion to the Federal Government which ought to have less burdens unlike the States and LGAs.

But in Nigeria today, we are simply running a Unitary Federation, where power flows from the top to the bottom, instead of the other way.

Because of relying on the Federal Government to sustain itselves, the States just sit down doing nothing, only waiting for the end of every month and move to Abuja for Federal allocation.

This system produces lazy States, who rather than rely on the natural and human resources in their areas to boast their economies, live on stipends from the Federal Government.

But unfortunately, while the Federal and State Governments have been constitutionally separated to operate individually as entities, the Local Government Areas are yet to be detached from the apron strings of the States, who instead of developing its own modus of creating wealths, have rather depended on the Allocations meant for the LGAs at the detriment of the grassroots.

Because the constitution muddled up the LGA allocation with that of the States, giving the States the authority to give to the     LGAs what accrues to it, therefore instead of separating the funds at Abuja, the States only return home from Federal allocation meetings and then dishes out what it likes to the LGAs, and not what should be their dues.

As a result of this ugly development, must Governors hardly give the LGAs what belongs to them, while some Governors do not even give them any dime at all, but rather pockets the entire allocation meant for the LGAs. Because most Governors gain from this lopsided administrative wickedness, they see LGAs as drain pipes, rather than an off-shoot and authentic entity like States, who ought to operate on their own.

Since the State Governors feed on monies allocated to LGAs to either to argument with the one that goes to their States, or loot out-rightly what gets to the coffers of the State, the Governors rather die than see LGAs get their own autonomy.

It is because of this LGA allocations that most Governors hate conducting LGA elections, because elected Local Government Chairmen are by law entitled to be handed over whatever comes to the Local Government Areas as Allocation from the Federation Account.

Because of the fear of losing the LGA funds which runs into Billions of Naira, the Governors prefare non elected Chairmen, and therefore appoints Transition Committee Chairmen for LGAs, who will not have the constitutional power to request from the State Governor, what comes to such LGAs but rather accepts whatever is given to them.

However, the situation is different from various States. There are some States in the Federation who since 1999 the present Democratic dispension came into being, have been conducting LGA elections periodically as at when due.

Although, such Governors may not give the LGAs what goes to them completely, at least half bread is better than nothing. And in such States, there are humongous developments at the grass roots.

In the case of Imo State, since 1999, the State has produced three elected State Governors. They are Chief Achike Udenwa, Dr Ikedi Ohakim and the incumbent, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.

Chief Achike Udenwa spent Eight years of two terms in office. And within those years he conducted elections in the LGAs twice. During this era, Imo State had rapid development, because it gave sense of belonging to the entire populace, who felt they were part of the system, because Government was at their door steps.

There was massive mobilization of the people at the grass roots, where the people went to the polls twice to elect their councilors, and this changed the psyche of the common people towards Government policies.

For instance, in my LGA, Ngor Okpala LGA, Chief Livy Okereafor was one of the LGA Chairmen then. Infact the Electricity we enjoy today was by that administration.

As if that was not enough, Achike Udenwa created what he called Development Centers, to take Government more closer to the people. He funded those Development Centers, which employed more people and reduced unemployment drastically, which not only created wealth but circulated it adequately, so that the leaders had less people depending on them for survival as majority of the common people became financially independent.

Infact at that time, LGAs were embarking on gigantic projects. The Isu Stadium built by Uche Diogu administration is still standing there today. The Orlu LGA secretariat constructed by Hon Eze Mayor is still relevant. And too many other projects executed by that regime at the LGA level.

In 2007, Dr Ikedi Ohakim took over from Achike Udenwa, and retained those grass road model of administration, by funding the Development centers created by his predecessor.

In four years, Ohakim conducted Local Government election and produced his own set of new administrators which included Council Chairmen and their Vice, Councilors, Supervisory Councilors etc.

However, Imo State witnessed the most choking of administrations in the State under the regime of the current Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.

By next year, Okorocha will be leaving office after eight years without conducting a single council election, even though he had promised eight times to do the election, and for eight times he reneged on his promises.

Today, it is glaringly clear how back ward Imo State has been set since 2011, because Okorocha refused to conduct LGA election, since the Nigerian constitution left the power of life and death of LGA in the hands of the Governors.

Nigeria has Seven Hundred and Seventy Four (774) LGAs. And each LGA collects nothing less than One Hundred Million (N100,000,000) every month from Federal allocation through the States.

Latest statistics indicate that the 774 LGAs collected N264B for 2017 only. Imagine that each LGA in Nigeria is allowed to manage its N100m monthly? The level of development in the LGAs would be rather imagined than seen!

But because of selfishness, greed, and visionlessness of our leaders, Nigeria has been groping in the dark, running in motions, instead of movement.

Apart from Imo State, other neigbouring States within the Southeast have elected council chairmen in their LGAs.

No matter how undemocratic or stabby such elections were, what is important is that those elected are from the States and the developments recorded in the Councils are for the people.

Knowing that LGAs cannot development under the strangle-hold of States, the National Assembly decided to pass a law that will give LGAs Autonomy to operate entirely on their own.

But this proposition had to gain amendment in the constitution by mass endorsement of House of Assemblies in the Federation. And from random samplings carried out, there are clear indication that the masses are in support of the Bill, including Imo Populace.

Therefore, it was this opportunity that was recently presented to Imo State House of Assembly, led by Rt Hon Acho Ihim, a former local Government Chairman of Okigwe.

But to the shame and shock of a majority of Imolites, the Imo State House of Assembly passed a motion against the Autonomy of Local Government Areas.

And this is the shame of the century! In this particular decision, the Imo Assembly goofed, because they are not in tandem with the thinking of those they claim they are representing in Owerri.

Lawmakers are supposed to be controlled by the majority decision of those they are representing. But no one is surprised with what Acho Ihim and colleagues did.

Since 2015, the present Imo House of Assembly has been representing itself only, and not the constituents. And they are working for themselves and not for the masses.

It was the same set of Lawmakers   that were appointed as Task Force Committee Chairmen by the Executive, and they accepted, including the Speaker, who openly at many fora told Imo people that he holds the Governor as his own political party, and Okorocha has many times described the Leader of Imo legislature, one of the three different Arms of Government, as his “Boy”.

We have seen legislators before, but these ones are a shadow of what a parliament ought to be. The Bible says that when salt loses its taste, it would be trampled upon.

The Acho Ihim led Imo legislature has lost its taste and Imo populace have lost hope on them.

But as Lawmakers, they should know that no one makes laws with bias, because the same law can come to haunt you or your family later. That is why laws are made without malice.

During the Achike Udenwa era, at the presentation of the Bill to create the Development Centers, there was a clause in the Bill which wanted the Head of the Development Centers to be regarded as Special Assistants to the Governor, rather than just appointees, so that they can enjoy severance Allowances after their service to the State.

But one particular Lawmaker, (Deputy Speaker then) kicked against that clause. But years later after he left the House of Assembly, he was made a Development Centre Coordinator. Therefore, after service, he just left office with nothing. That is the circle of life for you. You cannot predict tomorrow!

It is disheartening that my good friend, Speaker Acho Ihim, who would have done more for the people of Okigwe as the chairman of Okigwe LGA Boss then had he had autonomy could today in 2018 let such an opportunity pass him by. He has denied himself of putting his name in Gold in Imo history.

And any Governor who rejects Autonomy of LGAs today must realize that he/ she must leave office someday. And who knows whether it will be his son, daughter, wife or relation eyeing chairmanship seat of LGA tomorrow?

Those who initiated LGA administration in Nigeria had it as a base to groom future leaders who can then move up gradually to the State and National levels.

Experience has shown that past LGA chairmen and Councilors are doing well in the present day Nigerian politics.

People like Deputy Senate President, Hon Ike Ekweremadu, Governor of River State, Bar Nyesom Wike, Senator Bola Tinubu, former Minister, Abba Morro, former Governor, Raji Fashola, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and others too numerous to mention were all products of LGAs Chairmanship experience.

If eventually the LGA autonomy fails to sail through, Imo generations today and those yet unborn will not forget or forgive the Okorocha administration, with the current Imo State House of Assembly headed by Hon Acho Ihim. History is taking note.





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