Stakeholders in Anambra State have challenged Governor Chukwuma Soludo to make good his campaign promises of conducting Local Government elections in the state.
The stakeholders comprising Civil Society Organisations, political parties, religious and traditional institutions, media, among others stated this at a forum organised by International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC) in collaboration with African Centre For Leadership, Strategy and development.
Soludo had during his campaign, assured people of the State of conducting Council poll six months after his swearing in.
The stakeholders however regretted that apart from the fact that Anambra last local government elections was conducted in January 2014, Soludo-led administration would be clocking two years by March next year without the local government poll taking place.
Director of Strategy, African Centre For Leadership Strategy and Development, Itia Otabor underscored the need to mobilize and galvanize critical stakeholders to establish strategies towards ensuring emergence of democratically elected local government administrations in the state.
“We are not appealing to the governor, but only reminding him of what he should have done, which he hasn’t done. Conducting local government election is an obligation he owes the state because it is statutory,” he said.
Also speaking, representative of International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre, Prince Chris Azor insisted it was imperative to restructure local government administration for transparency, accountability and improved service delivery.
“These critical elements are required of every democratic governance structure to rejuvenate citizens’ interest with capacity to hold government accountable on its responsibilities,” he said.
A lecturer in Mass Communication Department of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Dr Henry Duru argued that local government elections remained a constitutional requirement and not be a campaign tool in hands of politicians.
Delivering a lecture titled, ‘Strengthening accountability in governance and electoral process’, Duru regretted that governors had successfully cornered the local government system.
He wondered why those contesting for presidency would never promise they would conduct governorship election in states after being elected, contrary to those aspiring for governorship seat who would always use conduct of council polls as campaign strategy.
“Conducting elections is a statutory as enshrined in the Constitution, and not something that any politician aspiring for any political office should be promising anyone.
“The transition committee used by Governors to run Council areas is supposed to be temporary, pending election. But a situation they are almost permanent, with renewal tenures of three months, as obtainable in Anambra State is not acceptable,” he said.
On her part, Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budgets, Mrs Chiamaka Nnake assured that conduct of local government poll remained a priority in the present administration’s agenda to ensure rapid development in all communities across the state.
Nnake who spoke through Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Partnership, Mrs. Ogochukwu Oji noted that the Governor, since assumption, had demonstrated commitment to alleviating sufferings of the masses through positive policies with direct impact on those at the grassroots.
“Governor Soludo’s promise on inauguration day to conduct election that will see to the institution of democratically and constitutionally elected local government in the state remains paramount, thus his drive to restore peace and security to the council areas affected by insecurity that predated his administration,” she added.
Contributing, Chairman, State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government Affairs, Chimezie Ikwunne recounted Soludo’s several fulfilled promises, pledging continued synergy between legislative and executive arms of government to ensure soon conduct of the local government elections in the state.
State Secretary, Inter-party Advisory Committee (IPAC), Uzochukwu Eminent and Administrative Secretary, Society For Equity, Justice And Peace, Anambra State, Ven Jason Onyeakagbusi called on Soludo to conduct local government elections without further delay.
The forum attracted participants from Anambra State Association Of Town Unions, ASATU, members of Anambra State Disability Commission, representatives of political parties and other community stakeholders in the state.