By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
Nigeria as a federating state also operates a three tier form of government, to wit; the Federal, the States and the Local Government Areas. Based on this arrangement, the Nigeria nation has 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. She is also blessed with 774 Local Government Areas, out of which Delta State is blessed with 25 LGA’s.
Also, the wisdom behind the establishment of the Local Government area administration system in Nigeria is to among other reasons, bring the government closer to the people at the grassroots; take care of the needs of the people in the locality that may be deemed far from the Federal and the State Government.
Local Government administration also makes governance more participatory as it creates opportunities for the people in every locality across the country to be close to their representatives addressed as the Chairman and Councilors.
The Chairman, as the Executive Head of the Local Council, is supported by a number of other elected officials tagged Councilors representing different wards in the LGA. They are the lawmakers or form the legislative arm as practiced at both state and Federal levels. These positions are tenured for three years with an opportunity to seek re-election of just another term for the Chairmen, and no limit for the Councilors.
In the light of the above, it is no longer news that the tenures of the Local Government Chairmen and Councilors here in Delta State will expire come October 2017 and this development has paved the way for yet another round of politicking and electioneering campaign in the State.
Correspondingly also, as the watchdog of the society, GbaramatuVoice is keeping vigil monitoring the events as they unfold with disciplined attention as a way of ensuring a free and fair exercise.
This role to us as a media group is germane ‘‘as the strength of every society is the direct result of its leaders coupled with the fact that everything falls and rise with the leader’’.
However, GbaramatuVoice, being a responsive media organization have observed with dismay that this well-conceived exercise is in most cases burdened with tripartite challenges which includes; the elected officials not knowing the functions that their position demand of them, the electorate not having the full grasp of how to hold these elected officials accountable and the third being a situation whereby both the Chairmen and Councilors become the state governors appendage.
Also, as a news organization entrusted willingly, with the responsibility of educating the citizenries, it is important that we acknowledge and warmly appreciates the selfless service and development strides of some of these outgoing Chairmen and Councilors in their various local council areas.
In the same vein, as we are known for independence in our views but never neutral in our opinions, we very seriously condemning in strong terms the lukewarm, below average and abysmal in some cases, of some of these outgoing Chairmen and Councilors.
Therefore, in order not to allow this ugly experience repeat itself, we, as part of our “Agenda Setting” role call on the State Government to prove to the people that they are committed to organizing an election that will usher in result-oriented officials.
The above, the government can achieve by working round the clock to ensure that the outcome on one hand and the process on the other hand are a credible, free and fair election. This, Governor Okowa led administration owe Deltans.
Again, massive voters’ education is very crucial at this moment and it should be the primary responsibility of the State Government through the instrumentalities of the State Ministry of Information, and the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission (DSIEC).
Still, on the voter’s education, we also call on the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and other development based agencies to help in this regard. This voters’ education is very crucial at this juncture as “education makes people easy to lead but difficult to drive”.
The State Government should again, make effort to be above board in the conduct of this forthcoming local council election as speculations are high that the election is a mere formality as the state government has already penciled down names of candidates of their choices.
On the part of the electorate, it is our candid opinion that the electorate make every effort to overcome the temptation occasioned by instant gratification, as receiving those gifts from the aspirants deprives them the rights to ask questions when these elected officials are not performing.
It is also necessary that the electorate ask questions as well as conduct background checks on the aspirants as it will provide more insight about the candidates and their capabilities.
Asking these questions are very important as it is widely believed that a “man who creates power makes an indispensable contribution to the nation’s greatness but the man who questions power makes a contribution just as indispensable, especially when the questioning is disinterested, for it is in questioning that we discover whether we use power or if power is using us’’.
Again let this value addiction role not end with this electioneering period. Youths organizations and Community Development Association (CDA) should imbibe the culture of project monitoring in their communities in order to always draw the attention of their representatives.
Finally, on the part of the electorate, it is our objectified advice that the electorate, for the sake of their future and that of their children roundly votes out non-performing or candidates with questionable characters in this forthcoming local government election in the state irrespective of their alluring promises.
Equally important is the urgent need on the part of our federal lawmakers to hasten the process of amending our constitution in a holistic manner that will guarantee the practice of a true-federalism that will grant full autonomy to the local governments.
By this provision, these elected officials will no longer be answerable to the state governors who in most cases hijack the local government allocations coming from the Federation Account thereby incapacitating the elected local government officials from performing their duties.
Similarly, it is equally important that the Federal Government take steps to amend the chapter two of our constitution as it acts as an impediment to holding our local Government Officials accountable.
What exists between the electorate and the political office seekers is a social contract of the sort, and most of the items listed in Chapter Two of our constitution are what the politicians are using as electoral promises.
But when they default or renege in fulfilling these promises, the people find it difficult holding them accountable or taking them to court as those provisions come with a clause tagged ‘’non-justiceable’’ and addressed as the fundamental objectives and the directive principle of the State. This urgently needs to be amended and raised to the status enjoyed by Chapter Four of the same document.
Finally, it is our hope that the planned Local Council election in the State comes out fine in result and outlook so as to soak-up tension that is already building up as well as take our dear Locals Councils to the next level.
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