Political stakeholders in Anambra State have made a call for the conducting of Local Government elections in the state that prides itself as “The Light of the Nation”.
The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) Abuja in partnership with International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC), and in collaboration with Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room on Thursday, December 7, 2023 at Havila Suites, 9 Ekwulobia Street, GRA, Awka, organized a Stakeholders’ Forum on
“Strengthening Transparency, Accountability in Governance and Electoral Process (STAGE)”.
The stakeholders in the politics of Anambra State made up of His Royal Highnesses, Venerable Prelates, Representatives of Political Parties, Leaders of the Disabled, Journalists, and the general public brainstormed on “Deepening the Tenets of Democracy and Good Governance at the Local Government Level in Anambra State.”
The distinguished personages that graced the occasion include: HRH Igwe Orachi of Nawgu Kingdom, HRH Igwe Ilouno of Ifitedunu, HRH (Sir) Joseph Azodo (JP), Venerable Jason Onyeakagbusi (Admin. Sec. Society for Equity, Justice & Peace SEJUP), Chief Magistrate Genevieve Osakwe (Chairperson FIDA, Anambra), Hon Dr. I.K. Offorkansi (National Vice-President ASATU), Uzochukwu Eminent (State Secretary, IPAC), Ogochukwu Oji (SSA representing Commissioner Chiamamka Nnake –Mrs.), Barrister Chris Ezewuzie (Chairman, (Disability Rights Commission – DRC), Mr. Jude Atupulazi (Editor-in-Chief, FIDES), and the coordinator Prince Chris Azor.
Among the resolutions advanced at the Colloquium are the following:
- There is the paramount need to organize local government elections in Anambra State. Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, promised to undertake local government elections within six months of being elected. This has not been done, but the caveat happens to be that there was rampant insecurity, with about eight local governments being occupied by the so-called Unknown Gunmen. Now that there is relative security, the elections can go ahead to make the third tier of government effective.
- It’s not just Anambra State because most of the 36 states of Nigeria do not have constitutionally-constituted local government authorities. Anambra as a leading state in the country should show the light. All the stakeholders who have the ears of Mr. Governor should get him to do the needful.
- The political parties should all be involved in advancing the case for credible local government elections. There had been a press conference by IPAC on the need for a local government election in Anambra State.
- The first step towards having elections in the local governments is instating the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC). It is incumbent on Governor Soludo to duly institute ANSIEC.
- There is the question of how independent the ANSIEC is. The regular matter all over the country is that the party in power wins all the seats. Even so, the resolution is: Let there be the elections first.
- It needs reiteration that organizing the local government election in Anambra State is long overdue. It is as though that the third tier of government is dead. Local government workers only go to work when they like.
- The 1976 reforms of the local government are only being observed in the breach. The state governors are all involved in sabotaging the local governments. The governors exercise overbearing powers. The 1999 Constitution (as amended) is problematic in giving State Houses of Assembly powers to legislate over the local governments, Even recently, when former President Muhammadu Buhari put up a case for the independence of the local governments, the State Governors resisted.
- It is noteworthy that after the return of power to the civilians in 1999 with Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju as Anambra State Governor, it took all the time for Mr. Peter Obi to organize local government elctions in 2014. Anambra State must do better.
- If there is an impediment for Governor Soludo not to organize the local government elections, he owes it as a duty to address the state on the matter.
A debatable point raised at the end of it all was if it may be necessary to transfer the conducting of local government elections to the national INEC instead of being undertaken by the individual state agencies. The answer for now is neither here nor there.