By; PAMELA EBOH, Awka
A human rights group, Recover Nigeria Project has issued Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano a five-month ultimatum to kick off the process for the conduct of local government elections or be ready to face legal action.
In a letter addressed to the governor, Willie Obiano, dated September 16, 2020 and signed by Mr Osita Obi, Convener of the group and three others, the group said that the conduct of the election will help to alleviate the suffering of those at the grassroots.
Addressing the agitators at the Awka South Local Government Headquarters, Awka on Wednesday, Obi said that the group viewed the non-conduct of local government election in the area as ‘criminal denial of Citi’ political right for close to 8-years of the present Administration under Willie Obiano.
While warning that failure to commence preparations for the conduct of council polls in the state will lead to mass protest, he added that other groups collaborating with Recover Nigeria Project on the matter include 50 drivers of Great Tippers Drivers Association of Nigeria, Anambra State Chapter, Association of Councillors of Anambra state, among other concern support groups.
“A vibrant local government system is a faster means of reaching people at the grassroots
“If elections are held in the local government areas, it will create jobs, reduce insecurity and serve as the breeding ground for good politicians.
“I call on the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Nigeria Union of Local Employees NULGE in the state to join forces to help their colleagues for a better Anambra”, Obi stated.
The group’s leader further advocated for a total autonomy of the local government tier and commended President Buhari for his recent move to ensure financial autonomy for the councils.
On their part, the state chairman of Great Tippers Association, Chief Ebuka Davies and his counterpart of State Councillors Association, Mr Godson Nnuriam, insisted that not allowing people the right to elect their leaders at the grassroot level is an infringement of the people’s political right.
Placards carried by the protesters had inscriptions which include, “Caretaker Committee are Undertakers”, “Obiano pay us gratuity”, “Obiano conduct local government”, “8 years staff leave office state government has refused our severance, gratuity and Allowances, etc.
Reacting to the protest, the State Government said that there is an ongoing plans by some tipper drivers in the state to start a politically motivated action on September 16th, 2020 by blocking major roads and streets, ostensibly to ask for, among other things, an immediate election into local governments system.
According to a release signed by the State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment Mr C Don Adinuba, “The drivers are being manipulated by a desperate politician who cannot wait for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to lift the ban on the electioneering campaign for the office of the Governor of the State which will hold in November 2021.”
“Government noticed that the politician seems too ignorant and desperate to know that the question of an election into Local Governments in the state is sub judice, as it is, before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“Security agencies in the state have been directed to ensure that no illegal action capable of disturbing the public peace is allowed to take place today, Wednesday, September 16, 2020, or any other day in the state”.
According to the release, the state has over the years remained Nigeria’s safest and most peaceful state, with a level of social harmony unknown in any other part of the country since the restoration of democratic rule.