–         Queries Uzodinma’s Sincerity About Local Govt Election

“Beyond Platform”, a social political pressure group has, in very strong terms condemned the appointment of another set of Sole Administrators by the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, despite promising on several occasions that he will conduct local government election, in line with the country’s 1999 constitution (as amended).

The group, in a press statement issued by its Convener, Comrade Chibundu Uchegbu berated Governor Uzodinma’s inconsistency and lack of sincerity as regards the conduct of local government elections, while also expressing doubt that he will do anything in the next 60 days as announced by the Commissioner for Orientation and Strategy, Declan Emelumba on Tuesday.

The press statement captioned, “YET ANOTHER APPOINTMENT OF SOLE ADMINISTRATORS: 60 ENDLESS DAYS” also noted that the Governor’s refusal to do the needful as regards ensuring that genuine democratic leadership is enshrined at the local government level has led to the collapse of the entire structure leading to truancy, absentism and poor attitude to work by the demoralized staff of the 27 L.G Councils in the state.

The statement dated May, 13, 2024 reads, “Moment ago, the Imo State Governor, Sen Hope Uzodinma, through his Information Commissioner, Hon Declan Emelumba, announced the appointment of 27 Sole Administrators into the 27 local government councils in the state, adding that it would ensure the conduct of credible local government elections in the state in the next 60 days. 

This recent development is not palatable to Imo people and all lovers of democracy in Nigeria and beyond. 

On 17th January, 2024, 2 days after his oath of office for second term as governor, Governor Uzodinma dissolved the then 27 Sole Administrators of 27 local government councils in the state, stating that the dissolution was to pave way for the conduct of local government council elections in the state. Now with the appointments of another cycle of Sole Administrators into the 27 local government councils in the state, the simple questions would suffice: what was the rationale for dissolving the old ones? And why did the governor make promises that he would not keep? And when will Governor Uzodinma’s 60 days of conducting local government council elections come to an end? On 22nd January, 2020, Governor Hope Uzodinma made a promise to conduct local government elections. Again, on 1st July, 2021, Governor Uzodinma promised to conduct local government council elections. Also again, while swearing-in the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC) Chairman and two others on 24th July, 2023, Governor Hope Uzodinma assured Ndi Imo that the LGA elections would be conducted before November 11 2023  governorship election. None of the promises was kept! So what difference will this fresh 60 days make? Within the currency of these unfulfilled promises, over 5 states in the country had successfully conducted local government elections, and more are underway!

Governance is completely drifting at the rural areas and the people are the worst hit! During the tenure of the past dissolved Sole Administrators, our team randomly went to 7 LGAs in July 2023 to ascertain the number of staff who report to work. In the report submitted, the number of staff who reported to work varied thus: Nkwere LGA – 4, Nwangele LGA – 5, Okigwe LGA – 3, Ihitte Uboma LGA – 4, Ahiazu Mbaise LGA – 4, Aboh Mbaise LGA – 3, Owerri North LGA – 5.

Whereas these are the LGAs that have minimum of 200 staff each! So how will the people at the rural areas access governance while there are no staff to attend to them? Yet, the governor deemed it right to appoint Sole Administrators again to oversee the affairs of the people at the local government! Does it mean that the governor is comfortable with the sheer absence of governance in the third tier of government, the presumed government that is closest to the people? May we remind Governor Uzodinma that local government election is a constitutional mandate, not a discretionary factor!

It is disheartening that the Imo State House of Assembly is not living up to its responsibilities. However, we call on them (the Imo State House of Assembly) to rise up and stand for the people who elected them into office. Again, they activate their oversight functions! Meanwhile, Governor Uzodinma should tender unreserved apologies to Imo people for not keeping the promises he made to them”!