Obi, Others Threaten Fire Should Obiano Fail To Conduct LG Election, Calls EFCC To Investigate Obiano, Obi Over LG Allocation

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

History was made in Anambra State on January 11, 2014, as the state first time in 11 years conducted Local Government Election to usher-in elected officials into its 21 council areas. Prior to this date, the State electoral umpire, Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) attempted in vain to conduct the poll in December 1998, Dec. 4, 2004, February 2005, November 2011, Oct. 5, 2013, Dec. 14, 2013, Dec. 21, 2013.

The then Acting Chairman of ANSIEC, Mr Sylvester Okonkwo, who announced the result of the poll on Sunday 12 January, disclosed that the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) won 20 chairmanship seats out of 21, even as he stressed that no election was held at Nnewi North Local Government Area, thereby prompting the state government to appoint Sole Administrator to the council till date.

Okonkwo equally announced that APGA won a total of 304 councillorship seats out of the 327 wards in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) garnered 12 councillorship seats, the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) and United Progressives Party (UPP) secured one councillorship seat each. Consequently, the erstwhile governor of the State, Mr. Peter Obi quickly terminated the tenure of Caretaker Committee members piloting the affairs of the 21 council areas, and inaugurated the elected officials on Monday January 13.

In accordance to the 2010 Electoral law as amended, the tenure of these elected executives and legislators at third tiers of the government shall end by January 2016, however, the ANSIEC, which is also mandated by the same provision to publish and issue 90 days notice ahead of any election to political parties and stakeholders appeared not to have done so.

This is even as our reporter, who visited the commission’s office recently, recounted how one of the staffers found at ANSIEC premises told him that the board of the state electoral umpire including Hon. Okonwko, who conducted 2014 election on Acting Chairmanship capacity had been dissolved. The reporter further called Okonkwo on phone but his number was not connecting as at time of filing this report.

The question now is when and how will Anambra State organise a fresh Council poll on or before January. When approached to speak on this matter at the premises of Anambra State House of Assembly when Governor Willie Obiano came to present the 2016 budget, the Anambra State Chairman, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Sir Norbert Obi said ‘no comment’ and urged our reporter to visit the party secretariat for further information, which he did for four times without meeting him on seat.

Our reporter also tried to get the Senior Special Adviser to Governor Willie Obiano on Politics, Chinedu Obidigwe on phone, unfortunately, he neither picked nor replied all calls put across to him, and was never found on seat when his office was visited thrice.

Unconfirmed reports, however, alleged that the incumbent governor and his party officials have concluded plans to announce/appoint caretaker committees that would steer the ship of each council. An insider even claimed that Obiano had charged the outgoing Council executives and legislators to park their belongings out of office before the end of December so as to give way for the proposed caretaker committees to take over on January.

Reacting to this, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Barr Max Okwu led faction said “APGA strongly believe that democracy must be entrenched at the 3rd tier of government which has direct impact on the people. Democracy is useless if it is not grounded at the grassroots. It is obvious that democracy at the upper level of state and national is a whitewash like house built on a shaky foundation if the 3rd tier of government is not democratized. The APGA position on governor's constituting caretaker committees in place local government elections is the same irrespective of any political party in power in the 36 states of the Federation. APGA under Chief Barr Maxi Okwu will not support any state government that fails to conduct LG election”.

On its part, the All Progressive Congress, APC, urged the federal government to stop local government allocation from the federation account to Anambra State should Governor Obiano fail to conduct the council polls expected to hold December this year or early January next year.

Chairman of the party in the state, Emeka Ibe, who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen, said: “We totally reject any attempt by the governor to constitute caretaker committee chairmen at the local government areas. The tenure of the present council chairmen is expected to expire in December this year and government has not put anything on motion to kick start the process of conducting the election. We want to use this opportunity to call on the presidency to direct the Accountant General of the Federation to stop the Anambra State from the federation account if the governor refuses to conduct the local government election this December or early January. The Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) and the electoral law 2010 as amended, stipulates that 90 days notice should be given to political parties and stakeholders ahead of the election, and as I am talking to you now, no signal has reached us in respect of the council poll”.

Similarly, ten political parties operating in the State recently issued a joint statement urging Governor Willie Obiano to commence the process for the conduct of the local government elections without further delay, arguing that it would not be proper to create a vacuum since the tenure of the incumbent council officials would expire in January next year.

The State Chairman of the Labour Party, LP, Comrade Luke Ezeanokwasa and his counterpart in Peoples Democratic Congress, PDC, Prince Isaac Onuka, who spoke with reporters in Awka on behalf of the ten parties, recalled that the last local government election was conducted after 11 years of pressure mounted on the various administrations in the state and insisted that the people at the grass root level would not want to experience such anomaly again.

The statement which was signed by their colleagues, Paul Asika of ADC, Kaje Igwah of UPN, Kate Okafor of ACD, Mathias Amaeke of PPA, Aeron Igweze of AD, Bath Igwedibia of Accord Party, Samuel Anidike of NAPPP, Edward Okoye of FDP and Patrick Dim of DPC, observed that the delay in releasing the time table for the conduct of the local government elections by the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC, was not a healthy development.

However, Comrade Osita Obi, the Coordinator, Movement for Conduct of Local Government Election in Anambra State, who claimed to have solely ignited the ‘fire that forced’ Ex-Governor Peter Obi to conduct the local government election, lambasted all political parties in Anambra, and further gave one month ultimatum to Obiano to organise the poll or face legal battle with them.

Hear him: “On October 1st, 2008 I was arrested by DSS for organizing a peaceful protest against Obi's government for not conducting local government election. I feel happy and great contributing to strengthen and deepen democracy in Anambra state. That I did although I am not an official and I am not contesting for any election. But I know that when conducted it will provide jobs, brings government closer to people, give the elected officials more knowledge of governance and assess to their funds and seminars even at Abuja, which they do not enjoy.

“The outgoing council chairmen are cowards. The political parties Chairmen in Anambra, especially the APC and PDP are cowards. Where were they when I was canvassing for this? I am coming back to Anambra State to resuscitate my group. Although I now reside at Abuja, I will start shuttling through Awka to Abuja to shepherd the movement till Obiano conduct the election. I am calling on Obiano to conduct the local government election. If not, I will mobilise millions of Anambra on peaceful demonstration to compel him to do that.

“I hereby now resuscitate the movement for the conduct of local government election in Anambra state to compel Governor Willie Obiano to conduct Local Government Election as we did during obi’s tenure. I will start writing and posting articles to that effect on my social media accounts.

I will start announcing that the government of Obiano is disturbing democracy for non conducting council poll…Again we are worried on how funds meant for the council areas were managed by erstwhile Governor Peter Obi and his successor, Willie Obiano. I came from Awka south LGA. My Local Government Area has nothing to show with their allocation that came from federal government.

We are not happy. Anambra State demands for transparency and accountability in governance. Obi and Obiano must audit and account for how they spent the federal allocation accruing to 21 Local Government Areas in the state. I am calling on ICPC, EFCC, and others to investigate how the funds accruing to Anambra state local government areas on federation account were used. We need the audited account immediately. Failure to do that, we will initiate action in one month”, he concluded.

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