The April 27, 2013 local Government elections announced by the Imo State Independent National Electoral Commission (ISIEC) has domainted discusions in the political arena of Imo State in recent times.
While ISIEC says there is no going back in holding the elections, salient issues prior to the conduct of the elections has continued to give stakeholders in the State serious concern and worry.
While well meaning Imolites seek the democratization of the local Governments in the State as a basis to ensure the Local Governments roar back to life, it is also important stakeholders do not engender the survival of local Government Adminstration in the State that has been in comatose condition since the advent of the Okorocha Adminstration.
I had said on this page that the present condition of the local Governments in Imo is a source of worry. Since Okorocha sacked the elected Chairmen and their councillors on June 7, 2011, several unconventional methods have been applied by the present adminstration in running the councils. And this has not augured well for the State, rather what we have seen in recent times at the councils leaves a sour taste in the mouth. And no State that intends to develop and progress will allow the Local Government to be in tatters.
The Joint Action State and Local Government meetings (JACON) no longer holds. JACON meetings offers that platform where monies accruing to the State are disbursed and a sharing ratio worked out between the State and the Local Governments. This is no longer the case as what we see and hear are bogus amount of money appriorated to the Councils as LG monthly allocations by the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Because of the ongoing war between the APGA led government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha and the council Chairmen mainly of the opposition PDP, what we have seen in recent times are Local Government Councils where nothing, absolutely nothing appears to be taking place. What we have seen are Local Government headquaters in a sorry state that lacks adminstrative and political direction.
In most Councils of the State, key Local Government Adminstration officials such as the Directors of Adminstration and General Services (DAGS) and Treasurers are no where to be sighted. We read in the newspapers that they were recalled to avoid been ‘contaminated’ by the PDP Chairmen and Councillors who had taken over the Councils on the strenght of an Owerri Federal Court of Appeal ruling which reinstated them as duly elected Chairmen. We also katakata at the Local Governments where some of the Council Chairmen were reportedly beaten up. Indeed, we heard sour stories about the Councils in 2012.
The cat and mouse war between Okorocha’s Government and the Council Chairmen has greatly contributed to what we see presently in the Local Governments. Like lepers who have to be avoided, Okorocha has insisted that he has no business with the Chairmen he sacked from office via a radio and tv broadcast. At severa fora, he insists their tenure expired on August 8th, 2012 , a date which mark the end of their two year mandatory tenure. And because he seeks total control of the Local Governments (Like any other State Governor will desire to do), he has not left any stone unturned in dictating what happens at the Local Governments in the State.
However, I will not align myself to the postulation of the Governor on this issue, rather i will add that Okorocha’s action was politically right but legally wrong. I say so because no State Governor can afford to wine and dine with members of a rival political party at the grassroots. No matter the political pretenses, exchange of banters and smiles, there can never be reconciliation between the Chairmen and the present adminstration. I have this conviction that there is no reconcilaition in politics.
Based on this score, there is no meeting point between an APGA controlled Executive and Legislative Arms of Government and a PDP controlled Local Government. However, this does not bury the fact that the Chairmen and Councillors have the right to challenge the political decison of the Governor in the law courts.
I will resist the urge to continue further discourse on this matter since it is before a Court of competent jurisdiction, but at the same time, i wonder if the April 27, 2013 local Government elections is the solution to the lingering impasse that has made the Local Councils in the State dormant.
With indications that some key political parties in the State such as the PDP and ANPP might not take part in the polls because it is opposed to the present set up of ISIEC, it will not be out of place if one implies that candidates eying various Chairmanship seats on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) will easliy cruise to the Councils. In a State where local Government elections have never reflected the choice(s) of the populace at the grassroots, one expects an outright imposition of APGA chairmanship and Councillorship candidates as Council Chairmen and Councillors. It was the PDP that introduced this dangerous trend and it will not be out of place if the present APGA government replicates such act.
In Imo state and other states, political parties who hold sway at the Executive arm of government easily rail- road their proteges and loyalists into the helm of affairs at the local Governments. There is the assumption that this will be case in the present disposition and if this prediction comes to pass on 27th April,2013, then one should not develop goose pimples if APGA contestants easily cruise to the councils as Chairmen and Councillors.
And if this happens, what is the guarantee that the 27 Council Chairmen elected on the platform of the PDP but sacked by Okorocha will cease hostilities? In otherwords, is the proposed election by ISIEC at the Local Governments the key to ensure a stable local Government system in the State?
The PDP and ANPP have raised salient issues that has made yours sincerely to wonder if the election will not spark off another round of legal fireworks. Both political parties are echoing the same views, alleging that the present ISIEC is illegal and because it is so, the LG polls the commison will conduct is null and void. This has given us an insight what we should anticipate before or after the elections.
Whatever is the scenario before or after the elecctions, we only pray that local Governments cease to become a palce where political forces will flex muscles to the detriment of the people of Imo State. I believe only time will tell