Task Before Local Govt Chairmen

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, recently, swore-in the 23 newly elected chairmen of local government councils at Government House, Port Harcourt. The swearing-in ceremony was sequel to their victory in the June 16, 2018 local government elections conducted by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC).
The governor, while administering oath of allegiance and oath of office on the chairmen, charged them to be focused on service delivery to the people at the grassroots.
Wike specifically implored them to prioritise payment of workers’ salaries, security and sanitation of their areas, while also addressing the developmental needs of the people.
“Now that you have emerged through a credible process, you must prioritise your agenda as no excuses will be tolerated. Council’s money is for salaries, development of the areas and security. You must leave legacies of development across the State. Make a difference through the development of your areas”, he admonished.
Most importantly, the State Chief Executive urged the council chairmen to avoid friction and conflicts with the legislative arm of the councils by working in harmony with the councillors and security agencies to create the right environment for development to take place.
The Tide agrees no less with the governor, particularly on the fundamental issues he raised. We say so because local governments, as the third tier of government, are very critical to the well-being and welfare of the people at the grassroots.
There is, therefore, the need for the council chairmen to hit the ground running and ensure that development and dividends of democracy are brought closer to the people at the grassroots. They can only do this by ensuring that they run the councils from their domains rather than administering them from choice hotels in Port Harcourt.
There is, no doubt, that the council chairmen were elected by their people to provide the dividends of democracy to them. Thus, they are expected to operate from home to fully appreciate the enormous challenges facing the rural people.
Indeed, the era when council chairmen are seen by their people as “visiting chairmen” must be consigned to the dunghill of history. In essence, the current realities warrant that they live with the people, wine and dine with them, and if need be, die with them.
We think that as agents of change and catalyst of development, it behooves the council helmsmen to regularly consult and liaise with all stakeholders including the youth, women, traditional rulers, members of Community Development Committees (CDCs) and other pressure groups to chart the way forward in the areas.
Similarly, the council chairmen must run an all-inclusive government and never isolate some people or groups who may not have supported them. We think that doing otherwise could be counter-productive, as it has the potency of causing disaffection, division and acrimony.
The council helmsmen must, therefore, appreciate the fact that peace is a priceless commodity, which is necessary for any meaningful development to take place in the various communities.
Furthermore, as they settle down for business, the present crop of leaders at the grassroots must resist the temptation of cornering the common wealth of their people for personal enrishment. We implore them to rather invest such funds in useful ventures that would attract investment and development to their areas.
Indeed, the onus is on the council chairmen to leave worthy and enduring legacies and write their names on the sands of time.
We think that it is only when they do this that they can seek for another mandate at the expiration of their tenure or risk committing political suicide if they fail to deliver on their current mandate.
The Tide implores them to be wary of sycophants and praise-singers. Infact, they should key into the NEW Rivers Vision of the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration to make a difference. They should know that history beckons on them now.