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By Anthony Nwachukwu in Owerri

The leading Imo state Labour Party Gubernatorial Aspirant Maj Gen Lincoln Jack Ogunewe (Rtd) MFR has pleaded with state governors not to kill the local government areas administration as there lies the first tier of security architecture to check insecurity and bring development to the grassroot.

In a statement he issued in Owerri today, the frontline aspirant whose blueprint on national issues have been eliciting positive responses said, ”I have stated at every opportunity that security is everybody’s business. The rising state of insecurity in almost all the states of the federation is worrisome and requires concerted, coordinated and everybody’s participation and contribution.”

According to him, ”Yet this “everybody” is in abundance and dispersed in the LGAs and not in the cities. This “everybody” looks up to their closest government which is at the local government areas for solution to their myriad of needs and problems. Failure of the LGAs to meet these expectations created a state of despondency, poverty, unemployment and revolts leading to the insecurity that were hitherto unknown in the LGAs.”

”Currently, nothing seems to be working at the LGAs, be it healthcare, education, public facilities, utilities, infrastructure and security.”

The charismatic aspirant lamented that, ”The Secretariat of most LGA Headquarters are in serious state of disrepair and dysfunctional unlike what it used to be in the past. I recall with nostalgia how effective the then Divisional Headquarters seamlessly functioned and provided services to the grassroots. I recall with nostalgia when these Divisions transitioned to Local Government Areas which was created to bring governance closer to the grassroots. The LGAs were equipped and provided effective services like road maintenance, effective security, employment and good communal relationships.”

Ogunewe who had embarked on a tour of almost all the local government areas in Imo state said, ”Today, the LGAs are a shadow of themselves, gagged, controlled and rendered powerless. In my personal assessment, the LGAs can be best described as docile because of lack of autonomy. The LGA autonomy is being resisted from a quarter that is supposed to support its autonomy, that is the state governors. Some have dragged the State Houses of Assembly into this matter. Is this for altruistic reasons or personal interest overriding the people’s interest? In governance, which is supposed to be supreme, personal interests of governors or the people’s interest?”

”The complete restoration of autonomy to LGA administration will make it effective in delivering the dividends of democracy to the grassroots which include security. The people are more known and can be better managed at the communities and LGAs and not at State Government Houses. The people more or less are prone to listen to their community leaders and LGA administrators. The constitution has defined government at the Federal, State and LGA with each complementing one another.

We need to ask ourselves these questions in order to understand that LGA autonomy is not negotiable;

(1)​Why was the LGA created?
(2.) Has the LGAs lived up to its constitutional role of bringing governance nearer to the grassroots?
(3) If No, why has LGAs not lived up to its constitutional duties?
(4)If Yes, what can be done to ensure their effectiveness?
(5) Will LGA autonomy enhance their effectiveness?
(6) Will LGA autonomy affect the authority of a State Governor?
(7) What should be done to ensure that LGAs live up to their duties?
(8) Why are State Governors against LGA autonomy?
(9)​ Why is the populace mute about demanding for LGA autonomy?
(10) ​Is there any mechanism in place to assess the effectiveness of the LGA administration?”

Let us all support, press and demand for LGA autonomy as enshrined in the constitution. LGAs know the people better and the people know them. The relationship between the two when fully developed will be symbiotic and not parasitic. The LGAs are better suited to fight insecurity in the land through negotiation, pacification, job creation and reintegration. The LGA Chairmen have no choice because they command no military, police and other security forces. The sole weapon they have for conflict resolution is the negotiating table and community relations.

The LGAs are better suited to fight insecurity in the land. They are better suited to bring dividend of democracy to the people at the grassroot through gainful employment, provision of infrastructure and security.”

In conclusion, the aspirant who many say has the love of the people at heart like the former governor of old lmo state, Sam Mbakwe, concluded that, ”The LGAs chairmen enjoy no immunity and do not have the leverage to govern with impunity. Why not we give the LGAs autonomy? Why not give the people’s money for the development and security of the of the people through LGAs?”

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