SUSPENDED LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHAIRMEN IN EDO STATE: OUR POSITION ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTONOMY
I have watched and observed with disdain the recent invasion and subversion of the people’s wish by the Edo State governor in the past few days. Let me put this straight; the suspension of supposedly elected public officers (L.G.A Chairmen) without due process is unacceptable.
The obvious looting of Local Government funds through the State/Local Government joint account is also unacceptable. The State government takes advantage of lack of autonomy for Local Governments to perpetuate acts of impunity to the disadvantage of development at the local Government level. This is sad!!!
The secrecy surrounding the release of council funds from the Federation account to the Local government points to only one fact; massive and inhuman looting of our common wealth meant for the Local government. This must stop immediately. Democratic governance means open governance.
The Edo State Governor and indeed all state Governors owe the people a sacred obligation to be accountable at all times to the people especially when it comes to finance. Governance must never be run as a secret cult. Governance must be open, freely accessible and transparent. This is what Democracy is about.
Democracy must be participatory and all encompassing. The people should and must be involved! Anything short of this is dictatorial and does not conform with the tenets of democracy.Democracy must be seen to be encouraging strong institutions and not strong men. Strong men becomes weak and ineffective over time with age but strong institutions become stronger with time.
We are for proper, effective and transparent supervision of Local Government administrations. We believe that council funds must be released to council chairmen as disbursed from the Federation account undiverted and untouched.
We also believe that council Chairmen or administrations should be properly supervised to ensure judicious expenditure of council funds for the benefit of our people and this can be done by instructing them to start publishing all their financial activities from time to time under the scrutiny of a special financial audit unit constituted by the state .
We have a very simple but workable blueprint for this;
1. In line with our R-I-T-A principle which stands for Responsibility, Integrity, Transparency, and Accountability, our Government in 2016 shall immediately on assumption of office send a fiscal responsibility and transparency bill to the State house of Assembly to be enacted into an act. The ordinary Edo people deserve to know what comes from the Federation account to the State/Local Government Account. We shall not only publish what is released to the Local Governments from the State joint account alone, but also publish what comes into the account and the sharing formula on a monthly basis.
2. The Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs will be strengthened to properly monitor such released council funds to ensure that these funds are not only judiciously used but also make sure that there is no clash between State projects and Local Government projects.
3. We shall set up a special and effective project monitoring unit in the governors office to collaborate the efforts of the ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and brief the Governor of the State on the progress made by the Local Government Councils on projects executed by these councils as well as State projects on a very regular basis.
4. We shall not interfere with the day to day running of the Local Government Administration. Ours will only be to collaborate and supervise except where the continuous existence of an LGA is threatened. Our Government will not be a government of impunity masked with executive rascality and meddlesomeness.
We shall therefore be a government with zero tolerance to impunity at the Local Government level. We shall encourage the legislative arm of the Local Government to properly monitor and carry out their oversight functions for good governance for the overall good of our people.
In all of these, ours shall be a truly people-driven government. There shall be no imposition of candidates during Local Government elections. The people must have the freedom to choose their leaders at all levels and at all times especially at the Local level where governance is nearer to them. We will run a model Government to the delight and benefit of our people
Omokhudu O. Odion
Ag Director of Media and Publicity, ISE 2016.
For Chief Dr. Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri.