Amaechi’s Lame-duck Local Government Chairmen

By Odimegwu Onwumere
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Eye service is the worst of duty to mankind. A duty done in the secret is better than one million duties done in the open, to attract praises, like the ones we see among politicians in Nigeria.

Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State can not be best described as any other thing than an ebullient governor. But my prayer for him is that let the opportunists in Rivers State parading themselves politicians (while they are not prudent) not drag his name which he is trying to write on gold through his numerous achievements in Rivers state as a governor to the messy gutter of shame. And these opportunists cum politicians are better found in the 23 Local Government Areas of the State.

I decided to say this because Amaechi, from what is on ground so far, runs a wide-door open government. His best policies, people say come from critics like me who can't afford paying for an apartment in the city, who don't own a car, no better meal, nobody is paying me, yet the love for humanity has kept my likes applying hook, lead and sinker to better our society, which some few people in the political class, like in the Local Government Areas, see as their 'opportunity' to enrich themselves.

I wouldn't have been bothered to put pen on paper for this article, but I was compelled to do so because a lot of on-goings in the Local Government Areas are sentiments which don't at all exaggerate reality. And Amaechi could be accountable for his government, but can his local government chairmen be accountable for the allocations given them?

Many of us are proud that Amaechi is tearing roads and re-constructing them, but how many of us are proud of the chairmen in the extension of the dividends of democracy in Rivers state?

I don't even blame the chairmen if Amaechi can be doing his work and theirs for them. What are these chairmen doing with money if, according to Amaechi, 250 model primary schools are at various stages of completion across the state while 23 Local Government Areas, 23 model secondary schools are being built as well? Is Amaechi not building roads in the many Local Government Areas tagged urban renewal and how many are these chairmen building? Are the roads in our villages and towns not as they were from Adam? Where is the democracy reaching the local people?

The local people are suffering greatly from the inefficiency of the chairman, even as Rivers State receives million of dollars from the federal allocation. And no one is telling us how many of our children die in Rivers state before the age of five due to poor local government's network.

I pray that corruption doesn't undermine local people's necessities which had most times fueled public vices and human rights abuse. These local government chairmen have a tremendous opportunity to making sure that the Rivers State under Amaechi develops beyond reasonable doubt, but they would prefer buying expensive cars for their Councilors to avert impeachment and give them gifts of money and items amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly while the years are going and people like us have nothing to show for our criticisms.

I might not be the Local Governments auditor general but from my squalor I am seeing that with the manner the chairmen run the local governments, some of them living outside the local governments, the presence of unaccountable military rule might have never gone on errand.

The opportunity the chairmen have might remain largely unfulfilled, before Amaechi tenure expires. And they would be jogging up for a second term. I pray that these chairmen should stop acting with utter disregard for the fundamental rights of their constituents.

They should stop using public funds or resources extravagantly, but on performance providing the necessary basic amenities for the local people. [Imagine that these chairmen, most of them and their councilors and supervising councilors and aides use cars such as Jeeps, in may species, whereas I don't have a bicycle, likewise many of us they said they are serving). How can a servant be richer and expensive more than the served? This is where jealousy comes in. And I am jealous!

I am jealous because our 'servant-leaders' have made little or no impact towards becoming more transparent. Rather, they chose to be irresponsible in their own use of public money. The little service we demanded most are crippled by rampant corruption in our Local Government Areas. This is without doubt the same habit the country's 774 local governments perform.

What is the meaning or gainsaying that Rivers state government is wealthier than that of any other state in Nigeria, if the residents are not feeling the impact of the wealth or its produce, locally? The funniest of it all is that most of these chairmen habitually deposit government's money into their personal bank account. As a result, the people are robbed their right to necessary amenities. Apart from Amaechi telling us how much the state receives from the federation account, is resources at the local level not kept at closely guarded secret? Who would blame the chairmen if most of them who came to power in their polls have no real mandate from the people? And because they understand well their rigging techniques, they don't respect us because they can come to power whether we voted or not.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. 08032552855. [email protected]