No one would blame the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for evaluating last year the performances of various local government chairmen in the state. After the tour of the local government, his finding was that only four out of the 23 chairmen executed projects that had positive impact on their people. Interestingly, within two years of his saddle in the administration of the state, some of his policy implementation at the local government was uncommon and traceable to many completed projects at that tier of governance. It was on record that the state governor took over the payment of primary school teachers salary at the local government level, built more than 250 model primary schools. Again, those critical sectors which the constitution assigns specifically to the local government such as the construction and maintenance of markets and rural roads among others were shouldered by his two year old administration. No wonder that was why he was praised for rolling out the score card on local government chairmen shortly after his tour. According to Governor Amaechi, some of the local government chairmen are very reckless in expenditure. Again, he observed that some of them are not showing the required level of responsibility in regaining the confidence of the electorates that elected them into offices. Barr. Ibimina Kelechi a gubernatorial candidate under the platform of Progressive Party Alliance (PPA) for the April 14, 2007, Election in Rivers State also concurred with Governor Amaechi’s argument as he disclosed that the local government chairmen cannot restore the hope of the electorates because most of the chairmen were handpicked by their hierarchy at the People Democratic Party (PDP), contrary to the spirit of the constitution. He lamented at the low level of performance in the 23 local government areas in Rivers State. He said as a politician, his view may sound harsh but is occasioned by the frustration that many people in Rivers State feel over the stark non-performance of the local governments. According to Kelechi, most of the local government chairmen are mere puppets in power to do the bidding of their political masters. Speaking shortly after a meeting of the Governors’ Forum in Yenagoa last year, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan lamented over the low level of governance at the tier of government. The Vice President blamed no one in particular for this sad state of affairs. But Hon. Ambross Iyagbe a one time member of the House of Assembly in the old Rivers State blamed the local government chairmen for the present rot in the local government. To him, the blame is to be laid squarely at the doorsteps of both the council officials on one hand and the present cream of members in the State Assembly. According to Iyagbe it is the constitutional duty of the members in the Rivers State Assembly to oversee the local government council. He remarked that because the state legislatures is not performing their duty that the local government council get away with their fiscal responsibilities. A situation where only four local government councils performed creditably or meet the performance evaluation chart of the state governor is very sad. Today, he noted, out of the 100 per cent Federated Account Allocation, 48 per cent goes to the Federal, 52 per cent is shared between the states and local governments. But he said, unthinkable as it may sound, many a council chairmen has no idea of the number of communities under his jurisdiction so how can he effectively implement development programme to the total growth of the local government area. Chief Eze Chukwuenuke Eze, Publicity Secretary of Action Congress (AC) in Rivers State also corroborated Hon. Iyagbe’s argument as he vowed that only the Action Congress (AC) can bring total revolution in the local government system. It was no surprise therefore, he too concurred with Hon Iyagbe’s argument, as he lamented that the perpetual state of disrepair of rural roads, while most of the rural roads at the local government council continued to host potholes and gullies, despite millions of the tax payer’s money voted to fix it. Chief Eze said the unfortunate trend under development has gone on for many years at the local government council. But with the constant check and balances initiated by the state governor, most of the local government council would perform well this year. He advised the local government chairmen to improve the socio-economic condition of the rural dwellers. He also supported the proposal of the state governor to the effect that there shall be no longer automatic ticket for serving local government council chairmen. According to Eze the inclination by parties to impose or provide automatic tickets, has made accountability at the tier of governance non-existence. The result he said, was the low level of performance that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was lamenting. The AC publicity secretary also corroborated the submission of the state governor that the electorate should vote for persons with good track records. To Hon Tonye Brown, a councillor in Ward Three in Andoni, during the botched Third Republic, the sacking of local government chairmen by the State House of Assembly will provide accountability. He recalled that when the Better Life for Rural Dwellers was initiated by the late Maryam Babangida, the rot at the local government had not always been there. There were times when the allocation to the local government council was at near zero level, yet the council chairmen supported the better life for rural dwellers through the implementation of socio-economic programmes to improve their condition. Today, development at the local government councils is sometimes provided based on the party affiliation, noting that this has infiltrated the political system with dangerous definitions of power, nepotism, card carrying and so on. This has become he said, an antiquated stumbling stone on the path to democratic transformation at the local government areas. He argued, only the present monitoring of their performance can produce the needed optimal performance and tall expectation of the people at the local government area.
C’River Is Not Well-Governed, Says Ex-Dep Gov
Former Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Efiok Cobham, has expressed dissatisfaction with the way the state is currently governed.
He spoke in Calabar on Thursday while answering questions from newsmen about his quest to governor of the state in 2023 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said, “The way Cross River State is being governed today is a far cry from how government should be operated. Government should be for the people and not just for a select few. One of the levels of success of any government is the level of social inclusiveness.
“I am bringing to the table a desire to remove the deficit of confidence that exists today between the governor and the populace. I am coming with a desire to stabilise our body polity and ensure the growth and development of our state.
“I am bringing to the table first my level of experience and my knowledge of Cross River and I believe I am endowed with the capacity to get things done better than they are today. I am bringing to the table innovation in governance that will make Cross River State be what it used to be rather than what it is today. We are going to bring reforms into the civil service and reforms into our value system which is very critical, educational system, health and of course governance.”
On the issue of zoning, he said that the PDP constitution recognises zoning even up to the national level, adding, “I like zoning but I am not running basically because of zoning. I am not against zoning. I used to ask my colleagues in the South (Southern Senatorial District), what if the party remains mute about zoning? Is our region not capable to produce somebody to occupy the position of the governor there.
“There are more than enough materials in any Senatorial District to run for the position of governor of the state.
“Maybe because of our peculiar circumstances in our country, not just our state alone, we have come to bring in zoning but definitely it should not be the main thing. I am not running because of zoning but I stand firmly that zoning is right. I am a Cross Riverian first.”
He said he would renegotiate the state’s debt if he became governor, and would not allow the industries established by Ben Ayade administration to rot away but would rather create a conducive environment for the private sector to thrive.
2023: Group To Create Awareness In Rivers
A Non-Governmental Organisation and political pressure group under the auspices of Abele Wobo Development Foundation, says it will embark on sensitisation campaigns at the grassroots to mobilise the citizenry to participate in democratic processes.
The group which is also known as Abele Wobo Solidarity Movement (AWSOM) also listed youths empowerment, community health care and promotion of citizens rights , among others as its top priorities.
President and founder of the body, Comrade Abele Wobo, disclosed this during the formal inauguration of the foundation in Port Harcourt, on Saturday.
Addressing the Ward representative council members in the 20 wards of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, the President said the vision was to promote citizen’s participation in democracy and good governance by educating the youths to play active roles in governance.
He noted that the strength of the youths in any democratic process could not be undermined, adding that the under-utilisation of such massive youth potentials and voting strength has worked in the advantage of the emerging political class who further alienate them after getting into leadership positions.
According to the youth leader and philanthropist, such tendency has stifled the development capacity of youths but can be reversed through proper reorientation and political education.
Wobo, a former President of Elekahia Youth Association and stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) decried the dearth of citizens awareness on democratic ideals and noted that, “The best way to secure our democracy and check electoral fraud is to have an informed and duly mobilised citizenry that will vote and ensure that their votes count”.
He charged the inaugurated ward executives to work towards achieving the objectives of the body, especially as the country approaches a democratic transition.
By: Taneh Beemene
Masari Demands N10bn From NUJ For Alleged Defamation
Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State has asked the FCT Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to pay him N10 billion as damages for wrongly accusing him of orchestrating the arrest of one of its members.
The Tide source gathered that the union made the allegation but later withdrew it and apologised to the governor.
The Tide source also reported how the governor disputed the NUJ claim that he was behind the arrest of Nelson Omonu, a journalist with Summit Post News.
The union had withdrawn its allegation after ‘finding out’ that the arrest was orchestrated by the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Dutsin Ma. It also apologised to Governor. Masari.
The arrest of the journalist had also prompted the Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) to task Governor. Masari on press freedom.
The Katsina State governor is now seeking N10 billion for what his lawyers called defamation of Masari’s character by the chairperson and secretary of the FCT NUJ chapter, Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ochaika Ugwu.
Masari’s lawyer, E.O Obunadike, said the apology the two journalists tendered was inadequate, hence, the demand for compensation.
While addressing journalists in Katsina on Thursday, the lawyer said the press statement had injured the character of the governor.
“Members of the public, after reading the said offensive and obnoxious material in several print and online newspapers, now regard our client as grossly incompetent in his administration and management of the affairs of Katsina State,” he added.
He added that an apology letter should also be published in eight national daily newspapers.
Mr Obunadike said the initial statement by the journalists had defamed the character of the governor.
“In no small measure, the statment had blisteringly defamed, injured the character and hard earned reputation of our client, which was painstakingly built and nurtured over decades thereby exposing him to a lot of embarrassment, public ridicule and condemnation.
“The retraction of the first press statement should be done in eight national daily newspapers and N10 billion be paid as compensatory damages.”
The lawyer gave the journalists seven days to “respond positively” or risk being taken to court.
“If after seven days, we do not receive any positive response, we shall be constrained in perfecting our client’s final instructions by taking legitimate steps in accordance with the provisions of the law towards initiating both criminal and civil proceedings without further correspondence”.
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