May 21, 2024

Why Otti hasn’t conducted council poll – Commissioner

Why Otti hasn’t conducted council poll – Commissioner

Gov Otti

. Says Abia LGAs now ‘ve access to funds

By Steve Oko

Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abia State, Prince Uzor Nwachukwu, has explained that the reason the Dr Alex Otti-led administration is not in a hurry to conduct Local Government election in the state is that it wants to first stabilize and get the Councils working.

The Commissioner who spoke in an exclusive interview with Vanguard said that Otti met a lot of rot in the state and wanted to clean up the system before conducting Council poll.

He explained that contrary to insinuations, the delay had nothing to do with the fear of the ruling Labour Party losing any council, boasting that the party will still win by landslide in every LGA considering the performances of the Governor across all the sectors.

” When we came on board we met  disaster. All the Council headquarters were dilapidated and the Governor gave marching order to all the Mayors to retrofit them and make them look like a place where human beings live.

” He wants to stabilize the system  first so that we will have a functional LGAs before you talk of election. He has injected so much money into LGAs more than any administration in the state, and that’s why there is massive infrastructural development in the Councils today.

” The maximum time for the Mayors is one year. We are not afraid of losing election because I don’t think there is any LGA that will not massively vote LP again due to the Governor’s great achievements.

Governance is all about impacts, and any politics not impacting lives positively is witch craft”.

He also said that “LGAs now have access to their funds unlike before”, hence the visible developments in the Councils

“There is now massive works going on in all the 17 LGAs because this administration does not tamper with Council funds. There is serious investments in agriculture at the Councils.”

He, explained that after the statutory deductions from LG funds under the Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC), projects were approved for the various Councils from the balance of their funds according to their needs.

” There are statutory deductions under JAAC to take care of primary education, primary health care, 5% for traditional rulers, among others. So, after the statutory deductions, we ask the LGAs to itemise their needs based on the order of priority.

” We look at the projects and the Governor gives them approval to draw their funds for execution. Before now such things did not exist.

” The Governor has been approving N100 million projects for LGAs. They keep accessing their money as each project matures. As they finish, they come for more. We only monitor them to avoid abuse.”

The Commissioner  expressed satisfaction with the 17 LGAs Mayors in the state, saying they are truly committed to developing their Councils.

He said that comparing the Abia LGAs under the incumbent Gov. Otti with his predecessors “is like comparing light with darkness”.

“People testify that they have never witnessed what is happening today in the past 16 years. They are shocked that the state is allowing LGAs to withdraw their monies as constitutionally provided for. “

” Remember that I said that when we came on board, we met rot. The Councils were in pitiable conditions; dilapidated structures; records were not properly kept ; workers were at a very low level of motivation.

” The Chieftaincy institution was bastardised – there were hurried and badly packaged recognitions to 39 communities on May 29, 2023. It was discovered that in a particular community two people were given recognition – one has recognition certificate and the other staff of office. In another case, a traditional ruler is a subject of another traditional ruler”.

On whether there has been any justifiable evidence on the choice of accomplished individuals as Mayors for the LGAs, the Commissioner said their performances had vindicated the Governor.

” One of the best decisions of the Governor was appointing these accomplished individuals as Mayors. They are in a better state of mind to manage public funds. They have done marvelously. Many of them have even intervened with their personal resources”.

On why Council poll has not held nearly one year since Otti came to power despite his campaign promises not to run LGAs with Caretaker Committees, the Commissioner said the Governor wanted to stabilize the Councils first.

” The reason he appointed Mayors is to stabilize the system first. You don’t conduct elections for people to become Executive Chairmen when there are no offices; when the legislators don’t have halls, everywhere was totally dilapidated.

” So, this is an interventionist move by the Governor to get people to stabilize the Councils.”

He further declared that council workers in the state under the current administration, are no longer owed but paid along other workers on the 28th day of every month.

” No council staff is owed again except those who had issues during the verification exercise but once they are sorted out they will be paid”.

He said that Gov. Otti had in less than one year, posted tremendous achievements

” Even the blind can see that Gov. Otti has done very well and that is why Abians are celebrating him. However, the Governor does not believe it’s yet time to celebrate. He keeps telling us we are only doing dress rehearsal. The months and years  ahead look very promising”.

He said it was discovered that some workers aided the past administration to mutilate some records apparently to destroy evidence of sharp practices, but added Government had no intention of vilifying anyone.

” We discovered that a lot of records had been mutilated or tampered with. You look for files, you can’t find them. There was institutional decay during last administration in order to cover a lot of tracks.

” But you will pity the staff involved in this because they were compelled to do the things they did. Many of them were afraid of losing their jobs. Our problem is bad political leadership.

” These are our brothers and sisters, and we cannot just get up and say we want to sack them. For us, the emphasis is on retraining, reorientation, and motivation, and not on sacking anybody”.

The Commissioner further disclosed under the Otti administration, traditional rulers are better catered for contrary to the peanuts they received in the past.