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Absentee governance must stop

THE recent order by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State to local government chairmen and councilors to leave the state capital and return to their localities has brought to light the serious issue of absentee governance which has been with us since 1999.

This syndrome is not peculiar to Enugu State. It is a national trend, and pervades all levels of governance. Very few elected local government officials stay in their duty posts.

They prefer to hang around the state capitals and only return to their offices to participate in sharing the monthly Abuja largesse: the Joint State/Local Government Account, JAC.

In a similar vein many state governors spend most of their time either in Abuja or exotic locations abroad in the guise of looking for investors. Our presidents are habitual global junketers.

This absentee governance syndrome projects the image that elected officials feel too big to live among the people they govern, educate their children within their jurisdictions, attend the same hospitals and use the same infrastructure or lack of it within the community.

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The only way elected officials can be compelled to redouble their efforts in improving livelihood within their jurisdictions is to stay there and tackle problems head-on.

How else will they be motivated to change the circumstances of their people unless they feel the pinch of the shoe?

What sense does it make to beg the people for their votes only to abscond to bigger cities when given the mandate to work for them?

Governance is not a picnic. It should be left for those who are truly motivated to change society for the better.

The claim by elected state and local officials hiding in Abuja that they are there because of the insurgencies and insecurity does not hold water. The answer does not lie in abandoning the people to their fate.

When elected officials are nowhere to be found who will the people run to when problems, such as the herdsmen menace, arise? Who will coordinate efforts to find solutions?

Now that the Federal Government has taken strong steps to ensure the direct transfer of full funds allocated directly to each local government council, elected officials at the grassroots have no more excuse to abandon their posts.

Governors should take a cue from Ugwuanyi and compel local government officials to stay home and work.

Also, the governors should lead by example and spend more time in their states to foster quality governance. The State Houses of Assembly have a constitutional duty to exert strong influence on governors and local government council officials but unfortunately, they are also culpable.

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