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Uncertainty Over Enugu LG Polls

Posted: Oct 5, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Emmanuel Nzomiwu ENUGU

There is uncertainty in Enugu State over the local government election, expected to hold by December. The State Local Government Law authorizes the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) to hold elections every two years to elect chairmen and councilors for the 17 local government areas of the State.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Amina  Zakari

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Amina Zakari

The previous administration in Enugu State under Sullivan Chime of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Governor complied with the provision of the law throughout its tenure from May 29, 2007 to May 29 this year. Under Chime, there was uninterrupted transition from one local government administration to the other, starting from January 2008 to 2010, 2012, and 2014 respectively.

In each case, local government elections were held in the month of December before the January transition date. Under this schedule, the current local government administration in Enugu State, which assumed office in January 2014, is expected to end by January 2016.

But, as at the time this report was filed, there is little or no inkling that local government elections would hold in December this year as expected.

ENSIEC which hitherto released timetable for the election in the month of June every election year has not done so up till now, even as speculations continue to grow that the incumbent Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi may resort to caretaker committees for the 17 local government areas at the termination of the tenure of the current councils next January.There was unconfirmed information that ENSIEC submitted a bill of N300 million for the elections, but the State Government said it has no such money now, with the dwindling revenue from federal allocation occasioned by drop in oil prices and arrears of pensions, workers salaries and subventions to be settled. This information could not however be authenticated as all efforts to speak with the Chairman of ENSIEC, Dr Bony Eneh yielded no fruits as at the time this report was filed.

However, the State chapter of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) said it was hopeful that the election would hold. The umbrella body of all registered political parties explained that its optimism was based on assurances received from ENSIEC.

State Secretary of CNPP and Chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Rev. John Nwobodo Esq. said the Commission told them that the elections would hold.

Nwobodo however voiced out his concern that the timetable for the election has not been released up till now. “We have always been told by the Chairman of the Commission that election will hold.

“But we are still concerned that the timetable is not out. Before now, any election year, guidelines come out by June. Party primaries were held by September.

“By provisions of Electoral Act 2010, State Electoral body gives 90 days notice for elections. I am not too certain if it is still feasible to hold the election by December. We are however hopeful, that give or take, based on information we have, election will hold by December” Nwobodo said.

Regardless of the uncertainty over the council polls, grassroots politicians have started subtle agitation for one office or the other. For instance, a group, Equity and Fairness Forum, has urged Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to uphold equity, which made it possible for him to emerge as Governor of the State.

The group particularly called on Governor Ugwuanyi to correct the political imbalance in Uzo Uwani local government area to ensure justice, equity and fairness in sharing of political offices among the four zones that make up the local government.

In a statement issued on Friday and signed by Francis Uzoabalum, C. I. Ogbonna, H. N. Emeka and Jideofo Ikeowa on behalf of the four developmental centres in the area-Mbanano, Igboano, Ogboli and Adada- respectively, the forum further advocated that the chairmanship position should go to Igboano zone.

The Forum noted that Igboano zone has not produced a chairman since this democratic dispensation began in 1999, stressing that inspite of the fact it has the highest voting population in the area, it has continued to be marginalized in political appointments in the state.

The group observed that the equity demonstrated in the emergence of Governor Ugwuanyi signaled a new dawn built on brotherhood and fairness and has rejuvenated the trust brothers repose in each other.

The statement reads further: “With the Governor, Senate, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly in place, the local government chairmanship and councilors, without any gerrymandering and propaganda should be made to fall in the same spirit.

“Uzo-Uwani LGA is subdivided into four zones; Adada, Ogboli, Mbanano and Igboano. Adada with population of 22,756 has enjoyed the lion share of positions from 2003 till date. They have produced two House of assembly members, one House of Representatives, one senator, three commissioners and five senior special assistants.

“Ogboli with population of 48,329 has also benefitted from the stream of who gets what since 2003 as they have amply been represented in various capacities ranging from chairmanship 2007-2011, house of assembly 2011-2015 and 2015-date, commissioner 2007-2011 and SPA 2011-2015.

“Mbanano with population of 29,988 have produced two LGA chairmen 2003-2005 and 2011-2015, one SPA 2007-2011 and one commissioner 2003-2007.”

The forum lamented that Igboano in the last 12years has received no tangible political appointment, warning that to allow the situation to remain unchanged for another four years tenure would be tantamount to turning in-attention and marginalization to an act of deliberate injustice and banishment, which certainly cannot be healthy for Uzo Uwani LGA.

Similarly, the people of Mbulunjodo-Nike have indicated their wish to produce the next chairman for Enugu East LGA. The people also indicated that, in the spirit of brotherliness, equity, justice and fair play, it is necessary that an indigene of Mbulunjodo becomes the next council boss. They explained that giving them the council chairman would make them to be seen as co-partners in the council’s developmental project.

The community made public their preference when a delegation led by the administrator of Njodo Development Council, Chief Clement Nnamchi, paid courtesy visit to the Speaker of Enugu House of Assembly, Hon. Edward Ubosi in his office, to felicitate with the Speaker on his elevation to the position of the Speaker of the House.

One of the leaders of the community and former Head of Service in Enugu State, Chief Clement Okwor, urged Hon. Ubosi who is also a Nike man, to help them actualise their dream. Okwor said that he was convinced that if the Speaker puts in good words for them during the forthcoming council election in the Fourth quarter of the year, they would get their hearts desire.

“Help us to get it. If it is given to us, it will be a good development. We know you can get it for us,” Okwor said.

Another community leader Mr. Sunday Nomeh, called on the speaker to use his position to unite the entire Nike clan by calling them for a meeting on how Nike is to be governed especially as it concerns the chairmanship of Enugu East so that no community is marginalised.

Replying, Ubosi told them that it was God that gives power but said he would do everything humanly possible to see that their aspiration is achieved.

Ubosi told them that if it is the turn of Mbulunjodo Community to produce the next council boss, nobody would stop it. I thank you for the visit. It is God that appoints Kings. Power comes from God. Power belongs to God. “When the time comes, I shall speak my mind. When the issue of who becomes council chairman comes up, I will do everything possible to see that Nike and Enugu East move on. When it is the turn of Njodo, nobody will stop it,” Ubosi said.

He however pleaded with his visitors to go about it in a peaceful manner.