The network of organized bodies, Civil Society Organisations and Media groups (CSOMPAN) in Anambra state has condemned the prolonged non-conduct of council elections in the state which became due since 2003.
Rising from its quarterly regular review meeting held at the Holy Trinity Basilica Hall, Onitsha, during which there was painstaking dialogue on the matter of local government elections, unanimously resolved to condemn in its entirety the recent establishment and purported extension of the tenure of the unconstitutional Caretaker Committees foisted on the 21 local government councils of the state by the executive and the legislature.
They observed with dismay that a democratically elected State House of Assembly should support to perpetuate such a move noting that for more than 15 years the state never had any democratically elected local government administration.
It noted also that this somersault again puts to doubt the commitment of Gov Peter Obi in upholding the Constitution of the Federal Republic in respect of setting up a democratically elected local government system in the state.
According to the group, it was therefore difficult in the prevailing circumstances to understand reason for allowing the State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) collect non-refundable deposits of N1.1 million from all aspiring council chairmanship and councillorship candidates and then suddenly postponing the election indefinitely without a word. This doubt stems from the fact that it was not first time the elections were scheduled and cancelled sine die. On each occasion the people’s hopes were raised and dashed. More so that similar promises/assurances were made in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011 but none was ever fulfilled.
CSOMPAN said it was particularly concerned about the poor image this situation has unwittingly hung on the governor and the state. It therefore urge Obi to redeem his image and regards to his official statements/status by ensuring that the council election in the state was conducted without further delay.
The communiqué which was signed by different media representatives in the state; the Nigerian Union of Journalists(NUJ); the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA); Civil Liberties Organisation; Justice Development and Peace Commission(JDPC); Chambers of Commerce, Mines, Industries and Agriculture; Association of all Anambra Town Unions(ASATU); Youth/Women Organisations; and the International Federation of Women Lawyers(FIDA) asserted that no acceptable reason could delay the elections especially when all other states of the federation had conducted council elections more than three times in the last fifteen years whereas Anambra held none
Meanwhile, the state President of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Mr Jerry Nnubia has described the use of handpicked Caretaker Committees in the running councils in the state as an aberration and an affront on the Constitution of the Federation by the Obi administration. He pointed out that the situation has largely retarded rural/urban development and initiatives within the 21 councils of the state.
Hear him, “the situation has prevented the people from having their say and prevents initiative. More so the appointees are not accountable to the people, but to the governor who appointed them. This is unacceptable under a democracy. We are not happy that someone who swore to protect and uphold the Constitution is brazenly breaching same, daily”. The headquarters of NULGE, Nnubia stated, has been working to see that the nation’s Constitution is amended to checkmate all loopholes presently being abused by the governors.
He admitted that despite all the media stunts by the incumbent administration in the state, which Anambra remains a very poor example of leadership and democracy by any standard. “We are dangerously sliding down the slope with speed, as nothing is working here. The deceptive media hype is the state’s greatest undoing. It has made the government superficial and very detached from the people.”
The same submission was made by the state chairmen of the various political parties, including Ken Emeakayi(PDP), Pat Orjiakor(ANPP), Sam Anidike(MPPP), Jude Ezenwafor(LP) and Chief Amechi Obidike(ACN). Individually, they saw the excuses of delays in the conduct of the election as lame and unacceptable, especially when all other forms of election have come and gone in the state under same social conditions being used as reasons for the delay.
Rev Fr Martin Onukwuba who is the Co-ordinator of the JDPC of the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha described the 15 years absence of democratic governance at the council level as unfortunate and condemnable, especislly when compared to other states of the federation where more than five sets of elected officials have come and gone and their lives and those of their councils so improved.
Chief ben-chuks Nosu, a former Speaker protempore noted that then situation is condemnable. He said it was actionable as it was an affront on the constitution f the federation. He urged the legislators and stakeholders to stand up for their rights