As the tenure of local government in Enugu State lapses on Dec. 4, the African Peoples Alliance (APA) says nothing short of local government election will be acceptable to residents of the state.
The political party also advised the state government not to appoint Transition Committee Chairmen or a group with any other appellation other than democratically elected officers at the councils after Dec. 4.
The Chairman of the party in the state, Mr Chukwunonso Ogbe disclosed this on Sunday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu.
Ogbe said that the party was confounded that few days to the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent local government chairmen, the state government had not shown any readiness for election.
The legal practitioner said that the state government had deliberately led the state into an avoidable constitutional quagmire with the intent to run the councils with handpicked political allies.
“The state government has forced us into a constitutional quagmire, and we must not sit and allow it to use caretaker chairmen to run the third tier of government.
“It is our right to choose our political leaders through a free and fair democratic process as guaranteed under Article 13 of the African Charter,” he said.
Ogbe said that anything short of outright election would be an infringement on the fundamental rights of residents of the state which he said must not go unchallenged.
On the performance of the outgoing local government chairmen, the party chairman described it as woeful, adding that the local councils were in pitiable conditions.
He attributed the poor performance of the chairmen to the manner in which they emerged, which he said had tied them to the apron strings of the state government.
“Most of the local government chairmen emerged through a quasi democratic manner. It is a process that did not truly reflect true democratic principles and that is why they are not independent minded.
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“It was only during the administration of former Gov. Chimaroke Nnamani that we had local government chairmen that were truly chosen by their people,” he said.
Ogbe said that it was unfortunate that the financial autonomy of the third tier of government as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari had been undermined by the willingness of the chairmen to compromise their positions.
“What the local government chairmen have done is nothing compared to the huge allocations and the internally generated revenue they get.
“If they claim to be financially independent, they should show us the projects they have done. If the chairmen had emerged through the wish of the people, they will be independent minded and deliver on their mandates,” Ogbe said.
It would be recalled that the Commissioner for Local Government, Mr Peter Okonkwo had told NAN that the state government would in November make its position known as regards conduct of local government election.
Okonkwo said that the state government was not unmindful of the expiration of the tenure of the council chairmen on Dec. 4 but would inform residents of the state on what to expect.
Meanwhile, various chairmen of the local government areas have confirmed the financial independence of local government areas in Enugu State.
The Chairman of Enugu South Local Government Area, Mr Sunday Ugwu had during the ongoing Good Governance Tour of local councils in the state commended the state government for giving them the free hand to operate.
The Good Governance Tour is undertaken by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the state.