Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Wednesday, carpeted Governors Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State and his Imo State counterpart, Hope Uzodimma over their persistent failure to conduct local government elections in the two states, describing them as enemies of democracy.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said both governors have perfected the act of handpicking their ‘boys’ for the job to man the local government area councils in their respective states.
The group said the actions of Soludo and Uzodimma contravene Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution which states that local governments must run by democratically elected local government councils.
HURIWA therefore tasked the state Houses of Assembly in both states to stop the illegal act of confirming transition committee chairmen appointed by the governors and defend democracy as they ought to as the legislative arm by demanding the conduct of fresh local government elections to produce the people’s choices in the local governments in both states.
Soludo, who took over office on March 17, 2022 in August inaugurated 21 Transition Commmitte Chairmen he appointed and got confirmed by the Anambra State House of Assembly.
Soludo is walking the illegal path of his immediate predecessor, then-Governor Willie Obiano, who operated by the Local Government Transition Committee and never conducted any local government election for eight years as governor. In fact, the last local government election in Anambra was in 2014 conducted by Obiano’s predecessor, Peter Obi.
Similarly, after being sworn in January 2020 following the Supreme Court verdict, Uzodimma sacked all the members of the Interim Management Committees in the 27 councils of the state constituted by the ousted governor, Emeka Ihedioha. Ihedioha had suspended the chairmen produced in an election conducted in 2018, during the Rochas Okorocha administration.
Uzodimma who later appointed his cronies as interim chairmen would dissolved the 27 LGA interim management committee chairmen of Imo in July this year. Uzodimma had promised on assumption of office to conduct fresh local government elections but he has failed to do about three years after.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “Governors Uzodimma and Soludo’s action of handpicking boys to man the local government area councils rather than organise elections to allow the grassroots elect their own local council governments shows that they aren’t true democrats but pretenders and turncoat Democrats.
“Any governor not allowing the constitutional mode of electing Council officials are enemies of democracy. Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution clearly states thus: ‘The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to Section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.’
“Governors Uzodimma and Soludo must immediately organise elections for local government areas to allow for rapid development and for the participation of the people at the grassroots in the governance of their affairs. The two governors should stop fighting Peter Obi and rather focus on delivering the true dividends of democracy to their people in Anambra and Imo. That is what is of most essence not petty brawls.”
November 16, 2022
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.