Anambra losing hugely over non-conduct of LG election – Stakeholders

Stakeholders, including political parties, civil society organizations and media in Anambra State have lamented non-conduct of local government elections by Governor Chukwuma Soludo barely two years into his administration.

They regretted that for the past ten years since elections were conducted at that tier of government, the 21 local governments in the State have been run by Caretaker Committee Chairmen, which they described as abberration.

The stakeholders spoke on Thursday during a dialogue session with political parties and civil societies on “Strengthening Transparency, Accountability in Governance and Electoral Process (STAGE) project organised by the African Centre for Leadership and Development in collaboration with International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre.

Director Strategies at the African Centre for Leadership and Development, Itia Otabor, said the government was losing hugely over non-conduct of the poll, including funding by development partners and lovers of democracy.

He however expressed optimism that the current Transition Caretaker Committee would be the last to be constituted to govern the local government administration.

He also disclosed plans for advocacy visit by stakeholders to key institutions in the state to further press home the importance of conducting the poll.

He said, “Major opportunities are waiting to open up with the conduct of the election. The state is missing out hugely. Funds will definitely come from development partners and lovers of democracy.

“Within the content of our very deepest aspirations, we believe that the renewal of the tenure of caretaker committee chairmen done recently will be the very last to be constituted to govern the local government areas.

“We’re also hoping that the governor being a progressive and who publicly commited himself to conducting local government election will see the transition committee as the last under his administration.

“From what we’ve seen from the last time we had a similar engagement in December till now, we witnessed large influx of media attention and galvanized commentaries from different stakeholders insisting that Anambra is long overdue for the local government election. 

“We believe that with such massive attention the stakeholders meeting generated, the Soludo administration being one with a listening ear would have picked the pulse of the citizens to do the needful.

“Most residents of the state are desirous of seeing the local government elections conducted to put a stop to the use of caretaker committees, which is unconstitutional.

“That’s why we’re disheartened that rather than moving in the trajectory of hearing plans of constituting Anambra State Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) we’re hearing of recourse to caretaker committee. It’s really a set back.”

Also speaking, the President, International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre, Chris Azor, described the push for the immediate conduct of the local government elections as a collective responsibility of all stakeholders.

He further noted that conduct of the poll would be to the governor’s advantage, saying the structure would further strengthen his base and popularity.

“It’s our collective responsibility both as media and civil society organizations to hold government to account, especially on it’s promises, and part of that is this engagement with stakeholders.

“We need to keep reminding the governor of his promises. Though brilliant, but he’s human. There are signs he’s going to keep to his promise. We expect to have a policy brief after this conversation.

“The world is waiting for Anambra State over the conduct of local government elections. Development partners are also waiting with a promise of supporting the government if the ANSIEC is constituted.

“It’s unfortunate that ANSIEC workers, for the past ten years have been idling away and yet receiving salaries and other entitlements due to absence of local government elections. Is that good governance?

“It’s only necessary to ensure the election is conducted so the office will come alive again with heavy traffic which will also boast the state GDP. It will also be to the governor’s advantage as he needs the structure to strengthen his base.

“The local government is actually a training ground to groom leaders, including those aspiring for presidency and governors. They start from the grassroots. 

“Transition caretaker committee is an abberation and unknown to law, no matter how it’s embellished. Anambra can’t be found wanting at this stage. We’re an A state and pride of Ndigbo,” he stressed.

Oher stakeholders that attended the function were State Secretary, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Samuel Nweke, Chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Comrade Uchenna Ugwoji, ASATU President General, Barr. Titus Akpudo and others.

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