How ISIEC Failed To Conduct Local Government Election Under Gov Hope Uzodimma



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By Special Correspondent.

There will be no chairmanship and councillorship elections in the 27 local government areas of Imo State throughout the first term of Gov Hope Uzodimma, 247 can authoritatively report.

For one, a gubernatorial poll to elect Gov Uzodimma’s successor is just about two months away.

It holds precisely on November 11, 2023 and from all indications, the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission, ISIEC, cannot conduct any council poll in December, this year or January next year, the handover month in Imo State.

The law requires the electoral body to give notice and roll out timetable for polls at least three months to the polls.

The ISIEC is yet to issue any such notice neither has it published any timetable for the council polls and it cannot do so now that a major election is on the card.

Gov. Uzodimma perhaps is toeing the path taken by his predecessor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who could not conduct council polls throughout his first term.

Okorocha eventually allowed council polls in 2018, one year to the completion of his second term in office.

Of course, his successor, Emeka Ihedioha sacked Okorocha’s ‘elected’ council administrators, a similar pill which Okorocha had forced down the throats of Ikedi Ohakim’s ‘elected’ council chairmen and councillors.

Ohakim had waited till one year to the end of his first term to organize council polls. Those who were declared winners without scores by the Emma Nwoye-led ISIEC were given the boot by Okorocha.

Every effort the sacked administrators made to return to office turned out a fruitless exercise.

It was only under former Governor Achike Udenwa that democratically-elected administrators governed the councils in the state. The period could be described as the era when politicians were still innocent and hadn’t understood the taste of money.

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After the exit of the Udenwa administration, succeeding governors have been deploying stop-gap administrators, who are baptized either as transition committee chairmen or sole administrators Gov Uzodimma first appointed transition committee chairmen before elevating them to sole administrators.

Our findings revealed that in spite of the use of transition committee chairmen to administer the council areas by Ohakim, Okorocha and Ihedioha, there is no time the 27 councils became as moribund as they have become under Uzodimma.

Though baptized sole administrators, the council bosses have no power to act. They catch cold once the governor either sneezes or coughs. And workers of the councils in the state hardly go to work as there is no work to do.

The Governorship Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu captured the situation more succinctly when he described the 27 council areas as cold as the graveyard.

The candidate who undertook a thank-you visit to the council areas said he found out that the councils are not working.

An insider said the local government councils could only work to the extent that the governor wants.

He claimed that there is no administrative system in the state at the moment even as he described Gov Uzodimma as the real sole administrator of the state.

Hear him; “Once the governor is not in the state (you know he has been traveling out of the state) nothing happens within governmemt circle.

“Of course, the only office you will say that is functional is the office of the governor. Other offices are moribund.”

The insider added that the situation has degenerated to the point that any approval you get will stay a minimum of three months before funding.

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He wondered how Senator Anyanwu and others would expect the councils not to be as cold as the graveyard when the state is lying prostrate.

The ISIEC was recently reconstituted with the appointment and swearing in of Charles Ejiogu from Okigwe Zone as Chairman alongside two new commissioners. Ejiogu replaced Pauline Onyeka, who was appointed Chairman upon Senator Uzodimma’s assumption of office as governor.

Onyeka had planned to conduct council polls in March 2022 but shelved the plan, citing insecurity in some councils as reason for cancelling the polls.

Thereafter, Gov Uzodimma nominated her as Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, for Imo State. The federal government of Muhammadu Buhari accepted the nomination but posted Onyeka to Ebonyi State.

Information emanating from the ISIEC indicate that council elections are likely to hold in the state in March, next year. Should this happen, Gov Uzodimma would complete his first term not working with democratically-elected council administrators.

He could only work with democratically-elected council administrators if his mandate is renewed and he thinks it expedient to enthrone them.

Nigeria runs a three-tier government. They are federal, state and local government councils. Across the country, the local government councils are simply appendages of the states.

Reports said 17 out of 36 states in the country run their council areas with stop-gap administrators.

In fact, the governors hardly allow the councils in their states to breathe. The operation of the councils is dependent on the whims and capricies of the chief executives of the states.

All efforts to amend the constitution to give autonomy to the councils was defeated by the state Houses of Assembly which voted against it in 2022.

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