Elder statesman decries ‘demonisation’ of governors over LG autonomy

“It started with the military unitary system of government which made council areas of no consequence and no value for decades."

Elder statesman decries ‘demonisation’ of governors over lg autonomyElder statesman, Chief Nduka Eya, has urged Nigerians to stop ‘demonising governors’ over Local Government Area administrative and financial autonomy.

Eya made the call while addressing newsmen in Enugu on Sunday on issues bordering ton he nation and its people.

He said that the current negative perception of Nigerians looking at the governors as the problem rocking the council areas; which is not, as the problem stems from the military’s unitary system of rule as well as the constitution.

”I was once a permanent secretary to council areas in the old Anambra and I know how the council areas administration and financial system work,” he said.

Eya, a former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, said: “To be fair to the governors, especially present governors, the present conditions of council areas are not their making.

“It started with the military unitary system of government which made council areas of no consequence and no value for decades.

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“The military stopped the smooth running of council areas and dissolved it whereas the regional government of the 1960s made active use of the council or municipal area authorities to drive development to the grassroots.

“The constitution is not also helping matters. The constitution fully recognized and apportioned clear powers and responsibility to the Federal (Central); regional government (where available) and state components.

“Nowhere did the constitution make clear cut power and responsibility for the council areas. This means that the constitution leaves room for the council areas to be used at the mercy of the state or federal governments.”

BRANDPOWER reports that former President Muhammadu Buhari had in May 2020 signed an Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary, legislature, and local government area councils.

BRANDPOWER reports that Buhari attributed the stunted development at the third tier of government to the governors’ questionable actions on LGA funds.

Besides Buhari’s remarks, a former minister of Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba had said that the high poverty rate in the country was due to the governors’ inability to complement the efforts of the Federal government in its fight against poverty.

On the upcoming secession plan of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Eya called on the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, to follow a laid-down process in its constitution to rotate its leadership as spelt out.

He cautioned the present Ohanaeze leadership, led by Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, to ensure a smooth transition of power to Rivers candidate, which is the state to produce the next Ohanaeze President-General.

“It remains about six months to the end of the current leadership of Ohanaeze’s tenure. We urge the leadership to ensure a seamless and smooth handover following Ohanaeze’s laid-down constitution and not to plunge the respected body into any session of secession crisis,” he said.

The elder statesman explained that Ohanaeze Ndigbo is made up of seven Igbo speaking states, namely: Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers States.

He said that the leadership rotation turn is taken according to the alphabetic mentioning of the Igbo speaking states and now Imo State is currently occupying the President-General position.

On the lingering controversies in the ongoing reconciliatory talks/moves by Ohanaeze and the North due to the 1966 military coup, Eya said that the move was real and those denying its reality are not telling the truth.

Eya, a Commissioner for Education in the old Anambra State, said that for some years now, the move for true reconciliation between Ndi Igbo and the North had been in the open; adding that “it has been around for some time now”.

“However, we are concerned on how leadership of Ohanaeze should concern itself and concentrate on settling the misunderstanding with Ndi Igbo internally in the Igbo speaking states as well as the ones within Ohanaeze as an organisation.

“To me, I am not opposed to reconciliation and ways to build bridges and peace across the Niger with other parts of Nigeria; just as most of our leaders have continued to work towards,” he said.