The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu on Wednesday called on Nigerian patriots and democrats to rise and rescue the local government system from the claws of the Governors.
Okechukwu who spoke in an interview shortly after the Enugu State Local Government petition tribunal adjourned for judgement on the petition by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate challenging the conduct of the councillorship election in his ward ‘Eke’ in Udi Local Government Area of the state, said lack of transparency, free and fair election in the council areas breed insecurity across the nation.
“When the local councils are not developed there will be insecurity. Are the insecurity not today across the country? Part of the insecurity is because we don’t have free and fair election at the council level,” he said.
He added, “Our mission is to recover the local council from governors across the board. Sometimes the governors will tell you that there will be no election in the council but those who even made attempt to have council election, subvert same.
“That is why we approach the court because can dear be democracy if there is no democracy at the grass level? I don’t think so. The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria directly stated that the local council shall be democratically elected and at each turn, we did not know any state of the federation where local council is democratically elected under free and fair election. We are saying that we must continue the mission to recover our local council that have been hijacked by our governors across the board.”
The DG VON stated that even when President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) issued Executive Order 10, the governors in their manner opposed it. “We now ask ourselves what is wrong that the first line charge of fund accrue to the local council are remitted directly so that the councillors will be accountable and transparent to the people.
“Today in Nigeria if you ask the chairman of your local council any question about executing a project he will tell you that the governor is in charge. We cannot be in a democracy when the grassroots have no iota of democracy.
“Can there be any true restructuring of the country if there’s no free and fair election in the council areas. You people were there when this election took place. We decided to come to court because we said we cannot resort to self help and for us to enlighten face of democracy in the country all the patriots and true democrats must continue to insist that the governors must conduct free, fair and credible local council election.
“Why are they oppose to free and fair election? Why did they oppose executive order 10? Will the first line charge of the local government fund be removed? Let them tell us.”
On whether Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should take the conduct of LGA elections in the country instead of the state electoral bodies, Okechukwu said no, adding “since we are not going to heaven to look for people to conduct election, whoever is appointed to conduct election should obey the dictates of free and fair election.”
He insisted that if because the governors appointed members of state electoral body, said that “somebody must appoint somebody,” arguing “so because you appointed a referee over a football match, is that why you should not obey fair rules. What we are calling is that the Nigeria people, we must insist that there must free and fair election at the local council level.
“The same people who are talking of restructuring are the same people who oppose free and fair local government election. Whether anybody is appointed by somebody; whoever is appointed he must make sure that there is free and fair election.
“This election was conducted few months ago and our candidate was persuaded, there is nothing they did not do to dissuade him including threats to drop the court case; he consulted the APC Eke ward and we said we must fight to the end. And one of the finals to the end is here. We did not resort to self help. So we must encourage that, don’t worry whether it is state electoral commission.”