IHEDIOHA’S EXCITING PLANS FOR AUTONOMY OF LG AND LEGISLATURE, MATTERS ARISING
By Ogu Bundu Nwadike, M.A
In the course of his extended and extensive electionerring campaigns across Imo State, one of the most captivating and exciting assurances by Imo governor-elect, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON, KSC was his plans to institute autonomy for the Local Government (LG) system administration as well as for the State legislature.
The proposal has remained very attractive and exciting for various reasons. It is in the character of human beings to crave freedom. Autonomy is a synonym of freedom. It reflects independence. In a nutshell, independence, freedom or autonomy when weighed in real terms is priceless and invaluable. Hence, individuals and groups go the extra distance to ensure their independence, freedom and autonomy.
There are views that among the many sins of the expiring governor against Imo humanity, his failure to secure autonomy for the LG system and administration cum the State legislature was the most grievous. For eight years, 2011-2019, Gov. Rochas Okorocha did not conduct a single election for the Local Government system and administration in Imo State. Rather, he deployed all sorts of voodoo politics and policies to suppress and subjugate that quintessential statutory third tier of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Imo State.
Ditto, the governor apparently literally procured a giant pocket and herded the Imo State legislature and the legislators into his pocket, turning them into rubber stamp and ceremonial legislators. Imo State House of Assembly never had any iota of autonomy in the straight tortuous eight-year period that Gov. Okorocha held sway as the Chief Executive of Imo State. That was part of his biggest shame.
It remains incomprehensible how a governor of an enlightened elite State like Imo State could run his tenure for eight years without granting impetus to the statutorily established institutions like the second and third levels of government of the federation – Federal, State and Local Government. For eight painful years, the expiring governor ran Imo State on a strange, unconstitutional, unitary system, collapsing everything else – the legislature, the judiciary and the local government system – into the Executive arm of the Government of Imo State over which he presided.
It was such an absurd situation that since Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has been repeatedly repeating his resolve and commitment to grant autonomy to the entire realms of government in the State, the excitement and joy of Imo people has known no bounds.
The first real signal that Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha will redefine the LG system and administration in Imo State when he becomes governor was sent sometime in early 2018, the Imo State House of Assembly, fully tucked into the big pockets of Gov. Okorocha, brazenly rejected the Bill for LG Autonomy that was passed by the National Assembly and requiring passage by at least 24 State Assemblies to become a law in Nigeria. For that singular show of hatred for the common masses of the State, Ihedioha wept!
Today, as the governor-elect of Imo State, his tears for the captivity, oppression, suppression and subjugation of the LG system and administration have not been in vain. Indeed, at the rejection by Imo State House of Assembly of the autonomy for the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria that was granted by the Senate and the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha intensified his assurances that he will grant autonomy to the LG system and administration when he becomes governor. And God has approved of his people-oriented plans. To God be the glory!
Instructively, both the legislature and the LG system are constitutionally designed to cater for the rights of the people, the true owners of democracy. The former by way of making laws on behalf of the people whose mandates they represent at the parliament. The latter caters for the basic grassroots developmental needs of the ordinary people. Yet, Gov. Rochas Okorocha still deemed it germane to stiffle and hamper the legislature and the LG. What a tyrannical leader!
Now, as the Imo governor-elect gets set to mount the saddle of leadership in Imo State, the people must be eagerly awaiting the new lease of life of freedom that Imo legislature and Imo LG will soon begin to enjoy. Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha will do it. His word is his bond. Moreover, he was a national legislator par excellence, who presided over the House Committee on Constitution Amendment which expressly gave nod to the unhindered autonomy of the legislature and LG system in Nigeria.
His ascendancy on the big leadership and governance seat in Douglas House on May 29 will no doubt establish the milestone in the annals of government and governance of Imo State as the era when autonomy of the legislature and the LG system was re-established after over a decade of its abrogation by the expiring governor, Rochas Okorocha. This is our chance!
*Nwadike is a journalist, author and public affairs analyst.