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Will Council Polls Ever Hold Again in Bauchi?

| September 9, 2012 More

Bauchi โ€” At a time when the need for the composition of elected council chairmen in all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, as recognized by the Nigerian Constitution, is being stressed, Bauchi State Governor Malam Isa Yuguda, decided to announce the appointment of Sole Administrators for all local councils, after dissolving caretaker committees.

Those appointed to oversee the affairs of the councils were mainly civil servants. By this appointment, Bauchi State, remains one of the states still operating councils with either caretaker or transition committees, which the Federal House of Representatives recently declared illegal.

Investigation by Sunday Trust revealed that there is no immediate plan to conduct fresh local government elections due to what Bauchi State’s chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and state lawmakers considered as ‘lingering litigation filed by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) over the matter.”

The Secretary to the Bauchi State Government, who announced the dissolution of the caretaker committees had said “the dissolution of the caretaker committees was informed by the need for effective service delivery and political neutrality in local government administration, Consequently, Sole Administrators who consist largely of civil servants have been appointed to run the affairs of the local governments pending the conduct of local government council elections”,

Speaking at the swearing-in-ceremony for the newly appointed Sole Administrators, Governor Yuguda said the dissolution was aimed at ensuring more effective service delivery at the grassroots.

Yuguda expressed confidence that they will have little difficulty in dealing with the various groups of people in their respective local government areas as seasoned administrators, advising them to carry the people along and give them sense of belonging.

He described local government as closest to the grassroots, stressing that by that implication, they play major role in the provision of social services and perform other fundamental duties as enshrined in the fourth schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The governor also enjoined the new Sole Administrators to ensure that they are judicious in handling finances of the councils, fair in their dealings with all the categories of people and stay away from people he described as bootlickers and rumour mongers.

Yuguda, who said the government and people of the state had confidence in the Sole Administrators’ ability to discharge their assigned responsibilities, urged them to justify the confidence reposed in them.

Reacting to the appointments the Bauchi State Chairman of the CPC, Alhaji Aliyu Sa’idu, and a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Nasiru Ibrahim Darazo, flayed the development as showing that government had no intention to conduct local government elections.

They said that government’s refusal to conduct council polls stemmed from its fear of the possibility of losing out to opposition parties because of its failure to provide the dividends of democracy to the people of the state.

Alhaji Sa’idu said the CPC went to court to compel state government to organize and conduct free and fair local government elections, noting that the last council poll was conducted in either 2007 or 2008 before the incumbent governor Yuguda decamped to PDP.

The CPC chairman argued that the replacement of caretaker committee chairmen with Sole Administrators was an extension of the way the state government used to siphon local government funds.

He said the appointees would allow the executive do whatever they intend to do with council’s funds in order to defend their lucrative positions.

In a swift reaction, Bauchi State PDP assistant publicity secretary, Alhaji Bashir Bukar Rimin Zayam, blamed the opposition for non-conduct of council polls.

Alhaji Bukar said, “it was the CPC and opposition parties that want the local government election to be held because they sued the state government. And as a law abiding government, we have to wait for the outcome of the court case because of our respect for the courts. We don’t want to pre-empt the court. I assure you any time after the court case, you will see the government organizing the election and we will win.”

The Minority Leader of the state House of Assembly Baba Abubakar Suleiman (CPC, Azare Madangala) and Chairman House Committee on Information Dayyabu Chiroma (PDP) said the state lawmakers cannot do anything on the matter because it is still in Court.

They, however, admitted that state legislative body can compel state government to conduct local government election through the passage of a resolution to that effect.

Chiroma recalled that state government sponsored an executive bill which was passed by lawmakers, thereby reducing the tenure of council chairmen to two years instead of two and a half years.

Suleiman, who voiced his opposition against the bill which reduced the tenure of council chairmen, said the development had made it difficult for councils to execute viable projects.

He said the opposition parties are clamouring for the conduct of local government election in order to help eradicate poverty and bring development to the grassroots, pointing out that “the transition is supposed to be from one democratically elected local government to another, not to appointed caretaker or steering committee members”

He said last elected local government chairmen in the state overstayed in office, a development he noted that led to the appointment of caretaker committees.

But in a swift reaction, Chief Press Secretary to the governor Mr Ishola Michael Adeyemi argued that “the administration of local government councils lies in the hands of the state assemblies going by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. If state assemblies want the state government to conduct local government elections, they will do so.”

Now that governor Yuguda has appointed Sole Administrators for the councils, the major question, pundits are asking, is when will democratically elected council chairmen emerge again in Bauchi State?

Category: Bauchi State News

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