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Saturday, July 13, 2024

End The Austerity Policies In Imo State – By Kenneth Uwadi

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Some persons wrote articles tagged unmasking the man Kenneth Uwadi. There is nothing to unmask about me. I am not wearing a mask. I’m from Mmahu- Egbema in Ohaji Egbema LGA of Imo State. I was the Deputy Senior Prefect of Egbema Grammar School Okwuzi in 1991. I was also the Public Relations Officer of the Student Union Government of University of Port Harcourt in 2001.

I am a University of Port Harcourt Communication graduate. I worked as Store Officer of Alcon Nigeria Limited in 2003, Purchasing Officer of Alcon  from 2004-2005, Admin Officer of Alcon from 2006-2008, Admin Manager of Alcon  from 2009-2019. I was Publisher of Famous People Magazine Bayelsa State from 2006-2010, Publisher of Hot News Newspaper Owerri in 2016. I am a member of the Nigerian Union of journalists (NUJ) and Co-founder of Youths for Human Rights Protection (YARPTI).I am also a writer with over 500 published articles on local and national newspapers including blogs and online news outfits. I am currently unattached.

I have always been saying no to the austerity policies of the Imo state government on the working and poor people of the state. The agents of the government have called me several unprintable names such as blackmailer, ingrate, jobless man  so as to cow me to stop criticizing them. Some have gone further with threats of arrest and jail.

I supported Governor Hope Uzodinma during the campaigns and during the governorship election of 2019. But the things we criticized the previous government, Uzodinma has gone ahead to do them, even worse.

For five years, the Uzodinma’s government has been appointing people into the local government councils without elections. This is undemocratic and fraudulent. Moreover, funds and revenues of local governments are being diverted for pecuniary interests of the state government without the people being able to decide how funds allocated to the local councils are to be spent. This has made the local councils and the services they provide to be in decrepit conditions. Most local and intra-township roads are in terrible condition, while most primary healthcare facilities are hardly working, and those working are doing so on a skeletal basis.

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As against the past situation where local councils provided some educational supports like giving out educational materials such as textbooks, note books, chalk, etc, to schools, most of the schools in the state lack these basic supports.

After about three postponements despite promises of holding council elections, the administration of Uzodimma announced that Saturday, September 23, 2024 would be the day for the election. Till date no one knows if the election would be through INEC or ISIEC wards. We know the promise of conducting council elections in September 2024 will be another case of “ Na So Them Dey Talk’’ Recall that when Uzodimma came into power in 2020, he promised to hold council elections within six months. After brief noise about the conduct nothing was heard about it again. The government later promised that it would conduct the elections before the November 11, 2023 governorship election but failed.

This castration of local governments is illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic as they infringe on the right of people to have democratic and accountable government at the grassroot. Yet, in 5 years, billions of  naira had accrued to local councils in the state from the federation account without any account being given by the Uzodinma’s government that had monopolized the fund, in connivance with stooges appointed as caretakers.

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The Nigerian constitution guarantees democratically run local councils with regular elections. Caretakers are only allowed to exist for merely 6 months at a time. However, the government, having mismanaged the funds that had accrued to state and local governments in the state, is maintaining an autocratic control over the local councils in order to ensure that all the misdeeds of the government as regards mismanagement of local council funds are covered up. Moreover, the government wants pliable elements that will serve as a rubber stamp to the government’s fraudulent misuse of local government funds.

The social infrastructure in the state is still in decrepit conditions while the working people in the state are groaning under poor welfare conditions. Health and education sectors are in terrible conditions. Most of the health institutions are in terrible conditions, lacking basic facilities to run effective medical services. This is as a result of chronic underfunding of the health sector. Most of the roads in the state are also in terrible conditions. For instance, all major roads that connect Egbema communities  with other towns are in a terrible state. We will continue to call for an immediate end to all austerity policies against the poor in Imo. The non conduct of council election in Imo State is an austerity policy. Save us oh God.

-Kenneth Uwadi lives in Mmahu-Egbema, Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Imo State, Nigeria and can be reached via 08037982714

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