Posted by Transport & Business Express | 27 June 2012 | 13,018 times
Plans to conduct local government elections in Abia State have been put on hold due to the proposed constitutional amendment by the National Assembly, the State House of Assembly has said.
The Assembly also maintains that running the third-tier government with appointed transition committees is not illegal.
A member of the House Committee on Information and Strategy, Chidi Nwosu, while answering a question during the Monthly Press Briefing by the Assembly, explained that the machinery for the conduct of council polls had been set in motion with the appointment of a new management for the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC).
Nwosu, who represents Umuahia South State Constituency, explained that while waiting for the time lag stipulated by the constitution before the commission’s new management would be legally empowered to conduct the council polls, the National Assembly came out with its proposal to amend the constitution as it affects the running of local governments in the country.
"Our state was already preparing for local government elections and that informed the appointment of a new management for ABSIEC months back and there ought to be a constitutional provision, a time lag within which the new body should conduct elections and within the period and now, we have seen a lot of moves by the National Assembly trying to amend the constitution and that most seriously on regulating the local governments for election and for financial autonomy,” the lawmaker said.
“Our state,” he added, “feels that it would be jumping the gun if we go ahead to hold local government elections and probably, in the next two months, a constitutional amendment is effected and then another directive is given, probably, that INEC should conduct local government elections rather than ABSIEC, and the structure changes.
“Therefore, it will be better to wait to see the outcome and the content of the amendment of the constitution at the national level so that we can fall in line with others. I think that is just why. It is not as if the state government does not want to hold local government election. We were on the verge of doing that before this development.”
This position is at variance with that of the governor, Chief Theodore Orji, who had said that he would conduct council polls when the corruption-proof reforms he was instituting at the third-tier have taken root, stressing that he was trying to avoid the pitfall of the past where elected council chairmen piled up debts that almost crippled local government administration in the state.
However, throwing more light on the issue, the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the House Committee on Information and Strategy, Allwell Asiforo Okere, disagreed that both positions differed. Instead, he said they meant that the state was waiting for the right time.
“If you read in between lines, you will see that it is the same heartbeat, it also has to do with waiting for the right time,” the Deputy Speaker said.
Okere also argued that running the local governments with transition committees was not illegal. His words: “You may say it is not constitutional, but it is backed by law. They are not there on their own or by mere creation.”
Meanwhile, the Assembly has put on hold the creation of new wards by ABSIEC. Okere said the action was to ensure that their constituents were not short-changed, more so, when a similar exercise was conducted about two years ago and those desirous of new wards were asked to pay some amount and some paid but did get any new wards.
The Justice Igbozuruike Akomas (Rtd)-led ABSIEC had put out a public announcement, asking communities in need of new wards to apply and pay the stipulated fees.
Okere said the House also of ABSIEC’s intention to embark on delineation of wards through the radio and had to step in because of complaints of what people called “distortion of an exercise that was carried out less than two years ago.”
Governor TA orji
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