BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
…Says council polls ‘ll hold next February
BARRING unforeseen developments, elections into the 27 local councils of Imo State will hold in February 2013, Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Ben Uwajumogu has said.
Towards this end, Uwajomogu said the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (IMSIEC) has issued a 90-day election notice to all stakeholders.
The speaker, who made the disclosure at reception held for him in Lagos by his Umuihi-Ihinna community, weekend, gave reasons the lawmakers backed Governor Rochas Okorocha’s decision on the fate of the embattled chairmen, who are in court seeking to complete the one year they lost to the crisis, which started in 2011.
According to him, the state would have had council polls before now but for the crisis. He said the House backed the governor on the council issue because the election of 2010 was held against many court orders and there was clamour for the election to be cancelled.
“So, when we came the governor cancelled the election. The council chairmen went to court to ask for the balance of their two year tenure, which the Court of Appeal granted them. We went to the Supreme Court and the law says the status quo should be maintained once a matter is pending in court but the Attorney General of the state declared that they should be allowed to return to office.
“We allowed them to take office. Now, their tenure has expired but they are asking for extension and have gone to court. Since their tenure has expired they should vacate office. If in due course the court says they should come back, they can come back,” he said.
Lamenting that Imo local councils were almost in comatose because of the antics of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, he said the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) led government was determined to return democracy to the council in February 2013.
Notable persons held at event held at Arena Plaza, Oshodi included Governor Okorocha, who was represented by Hon Lisa Asugha, Special Assistant to the Governor on Lagos Liaison/Liaison Officer; Chairman of Zinox, Chief Leo Stan-Ekeh; Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuoforiji; and a team of members of the Imo State House of Assembly among others.
Welcoming the dignitaries , Lagos State Chairman of Umuihi-Ihinna Consultative Assembly, Mr Vincent Uba, who urged wealthy Imo citizens to established factories at home and partner with the state government to develop the state, said they were honouring the speaker because of the “amiable and developmental working relationship that has existed between the legislature and the executive since he assumed office.
Uba tasked Uwajumogu on finding solution to the lingering local council crisis in the state, fixing deplorable roads and helping to tackle the problem of unemployment in the two communities.
Stan-Ekeh, who chaired the ceremony, concurred and asked wealthy Umuihi-Ihinna and other Imolites to take the issue of establishing factories in Imo seriously.
Hon Lisa Asugha, Special Assistant to the Governor on Lagos Liaison/Liaison Officer, said Imo State was the only state in Nigeria that has free education from the primary to the university level.
“Students get free education from primary education to the university level. Apart from getting free education, they get paid for coming to school, which means they get stipends and free items like bags, uniforms and books at the primary level. Imo State is not the richest state in the country but the governor embarked on the programme because of his belief in human capacity development.
According to her, while some states get about N43 billion monthly as federal allocation, Imo State gets N3 billion.
To cater for Imo citizens living in Lagos and in the Diaspora, Asugha said the government was compiling a database, the Imo State Citizen Identity Card (ICID) “to have a data of all our people, their professions and take the welfare of our people to the next level”
According to her, efforts were being made to attract those in the Diaspora to come and invest. “Since most of them are afraid to come back because they do not know how to start life here, we are coming up with a Diaspora Village of over 5000 houses.