Reacting to the delay in conducting council polls, Abia State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, has issued an ultimatum to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to conduct election into the councils.
The party, in a statement by its state Publicity Secretary, Ben Godson, noted that the prevailing system of appointing transition committee chairmen to administer the councils cannot bring development to the grassroots and urged the governor to conduct the polls without further delay.
The party called on the media, civil society groups and the public to join to demand for council polls, saying that the scant attention paid to local governments by the media had made some persons use the councils as channels for compensating political loyalists.
Meanwhile, the state government had promised to hold election into the 17 council areas before the end of the year, although this is doubtful because of the failed previous promises since the expiration of the tenure of last council executives elected under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu administration in December 2018.
At the expiration, the government has continued to appoint Transition Committees to administer the 17 council areas.
However, the state Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi-Kalu, has assured that the state would conduct council polls before the end of the year, adding that Governor Ikpeazu was committed to having a democratic government at the councils.
Okiyi-Kalu disclosed that the 17 council areas in the state are autonomous in managing their resources, an account disputed by some appointed councilors, who pleaded not to be quoted.
Okiyi-Kalu said: “We are planning to hold local government polls this year. It will hold before the end of the year 2020. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is committed to having democratic government at the local governments.
“I can assure you that the 17 local government councils in Abia State have autonomy in managing their funds.”
On its part, Ebonyi State government said it is gearing up to conduct local government election next month.
There has been a serious contention until the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission, EBSEIC, took a decision on the election.
The Commission last week, shifted the local government election in the state to August 29. The election was earlier scheduled to hold on August 15. But the opposition viewed the delay as a deliberate act by the state government to continue to manage council funds.
The chairman of the Commission, Josy Eze had addressed a meeting of the representatives of political parties and security agencies to assured them of the new arrangement for the election next month.
According to him, the election was shifted as a result of a court order, which he said restrained the commission from holding the election as earlier scheduled.
Eze also announced the lifting of ban on political activities, saying that the parties can start electioneering campaigns.
His words: “We have fixed a new date for our local government election and other activities. It is the position of the Commission to carry all political parties along.
“Today, we have deemed it necessary to invite you once more and announce to you certain decisions we have to take in relation to the 2020 local government election in Ebonyi State.
“Some people asked us whether we are going to give room for fresh primaries and other activities? The commission was served a Court order from the State High Court restraining the Commission on the interim from going on with the conduct of the local government election.
“As a powerful Commission, we took an oath to abide by the law of the land. We have to obey the court order from a competent Court. One of the parties has gone to court to ask for a window of opportunity to participate and conduct their own party primaries.
“We are revising the timetable of the election to hold on a new date. Therefore, by the power conferred on the Commission, I wish to announce that the new date for the 2020 LG election will be on Saturday August 29.
“The claimant will on this new date be allowed to conduct their party primaries from July 22 to August 6”, the commission chairman explained.
However, the development did not go down well with the members of the ruling PDP in the state until Governor David Umahi waded in and called them to order.
In Imo State, the use of the transition committee seemed to be the order of the day. But the state government under Hope Uzodinma seems to have the plan to change it as it has announced that arrangements are in the process to the conduct local government elections in the state.
According to Governor Hope Uzodinma’s Senior Special Adviser, SSA, on Public Enlightenment, Arinze Nwokedi, council election would hold in the state soon.
“The government has demonstrated readiness to conduct free and fair election in which every political party will participate. The government has set the ball rolling by constituting the Imo State Electoral Commission, ISIEC.
“The members have been inaugurated and sworn-in. That is also a prerequisite step towards having the election conducted. To that effect, the government is well disposed to conduct a free and fair local government election.
“It will not be like the ones in the past. This time around, the government will set a record that democracy is now at the locality. The government has done this thing because it is in obedience to the constitutional provisions of our land.”
Reacting to this position, the main opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, urged the government to keep to its words on the council election.
The acting state publicity secretary of the party, Ogubundu Nwadike, said: “The government that has effectively ran for seven months, I don’t see the reason why it cannot conduct local government elections.”