By Emeka Obasi
Real change will come as from 2019, give credit to the ruling All Progressives Congress[APC]. Nigerians now know what it means to keep an eye on those who aspire to lead them. The days of blanket endorsement and propaganda are definitely over.
For close to two decades, many did not follow happenings in the 774 Local Government Councils scattered all over the country The Local government is touted to be the third tier of government, after the State and Federal Government.
Every day, people are gearing up to contest elections. Many are either interested in being governor or moving into Aso Villa. We hardly pay attention to the grassroots. This should be of concern to all henceforth.
While we condemn Abuja and our various state governors, there is more going on in the local government councils. Development should start from there, after all, they also share from the federal purse. Those who say state governors hardly give the chairmen a breather may be right.
Cheery news that new faces are coming into politics. I have listened to Prof. Kingsley Moghalu who is interested in the presidency. I understand Sam Amadi wants to be governor. I need to hear names of sound people warming up to become local government chairmen.
What we have in the local governments is disturbing. Some of the chairmen are not worthy of the position. This idea of allowing governors freedom to dissolve and distribute is not healthy. Instead of elected councilors, transition committees are running the show.
Even where state Electoral bodies conduct elections, the party in power sweeps all available positions. While the governors belong to different political parties, most local government elections they supervise are not acceptable to even animals in the jungle.
I think it is time to allow INEC conduct local government elections. That is one sure way to attract development to the rural areas. All eyes will be on the candidates. The people know those they can trust.
It is along this line that I want to see experienced Nigerians going back to their roots to make things happen. I would like to see diplomats, bankers, oil workers, successful businessmen bring their years of exposure to bear.
Presently, it is common to see haggard-looking councilors drive bashed exotic official vehicles. Some of them apparently emerged from the motor parks and anyone who expects beauty in a beast does not understand the law of creation.
Partying is all we see. Some local government chairmen have more hangers on than kings. Their offices are packed full with foul-smelling party men and women who turn the secretariat into Jankara or Ochanja market. I wonder why you have more ladies than offices in LG headquarters.
Some Local government chairmen move about like lords. They have police escorts, they use siren and even enjoy more Personal Assistants than former Anambra governor, the very austere Peter Obi. Their wives are called first ladies and want to be worshiped.
In times past, we had experienced Nigerians going back home from the centre to contribute to the development of their states. President Shehu Shagari was a minister in the First Republic. Not many remember that he later relocated to his local government in Sokoto to serve.
There are more examples. The first indigenous Inspector General f Police [IGP], Louis Edet, moved to his state in 1967, South Eastern State, as Commissioner for Home Affairs and Social Welfare under Jacob Esuene. Alhaji Yusu Maitama Sule, First Republic Minister of Mines and Power, became Kano State Commissioner in the Audu Bako government.
Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, Minister of Housing and Surveys in the Tafawa Balewa administration came down to Lagos State as commissioner for Education under Mobolaji Johnson. Alhaji Abubakar Koguna, one time Ambassador to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, later became chairman of Establishments, Kano Local Authority.
Justice Dan Ibekwe, Minister of Commonwealth Relations in the Ministry of External Affairs in 1965 was one of Ukpabi Asika’s commissioners in the East Central State in 1970. By 1975, he was back at the Federal level in the cabinet of Murtala Mohammed.
Nigeria’s first Ambassador to the United States, Julius Udochi, was picked by Osaigbovo Ogbemudia of Mid-Western State as Attorney General and commissioner for Justice. All these men put in their best and the respective states also benefited from their experience.
This idea of ‘I must be a governor or I must run for president’ should stop. There are other ways of serving the people if indeed, that is the noble objective of some of us. It is not criminal for a former minister who did so well, to serve as a local government chairman.
I salute post humously, Prince Ogiri Ajene, Deputy governor of Benue State during the George Akume years. In 2007, he won councillorship elections to represent Ibanike-Ito Ward of Obi Local Council. That should be the way to go as from 2019.
Elsewhere, may I mention Walter Mondale, United States Vice President under President Jimmy Carter, 1976-1980. Thirteen years later, Mondale was appointed Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton. He worked in that capacity until 1996.
Let us not put on airs. We must rescue this country from carpenters, barbers and touts. To our various local government areas, we are heading. The important thing is to vote out all those who want to be governors, senators and honourable members with nothing to show as experience.
What about a Mike Awoyinfa as a Local Government Chairman in Osun or Festus Keyamo as council boss in Delta. Which governor will be bold enough to withhold allocation from such men or even push them around. These are comfortable, hard working Nigerians.
Give Jimmy Disu the job in Eti Osa or Ngozi Ezekwesili an office in Anambra. These bright Nigerians will not discuss sharing formula or bring back my percentage with any governor. We must strive to flush out those who have polluted the system.