Stakeholders from across Enugu state have approved the setting up of Local Government Caretaker Committees for the 17 local council areas in the state pending the time adequate budgetary allocations would be provided in the 2016 state appropriation for the conduct of local government elections in the state.
The stakeholders who gathered at the Old Government Lodge, Enugu gave the approval after Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi briefed them on various programmes and projects of his administration, including the issue of the pending local government polls since the tenure of the local government councils will expire on January 4, 2016.
Consequently, the governor announced at the expanded meeting that “in order to avoid vacuum, on 4th January, 2016, the local government caretaker committees will be constituted and this is in keeping with the extant laws of Enugu state.
“Whatever we are doing will be in consonance with the Local Government Laws”, he told the political and opinion leaders including deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, immediate past governor off the state, Chief Sullivan Chime, former information minister, Chief Nnia Nwodo, former minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, among very many others.
Addressing the people, Governor Ugwuanyi had offered two reasons the local council polls would not hold before the expiration of the tenure of the present councils, saying that the first reason is “the on-going local government staff audit and other reforms” in that tier of government in which the state government wants to fish out ghost workers said to be prevalent in the system.
The governor reminded the leaders that during the last meeting of the State Caucus at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Enugu, it was agreed “that all activities towards the local government elections be put on hold to enable the committee handling the exercise to conclude its assignment.
“It indeed, appears to be a widely shared view among our people that it will be unwise and imprudent to conduct elections for new councils when this very important exercise has not been concluded”, the governor stated.
Giving a second reason for the postponement of the council elections, Governor Ugwuanyi explained that the second problem is that of inadequate funds for the exercise as it is not properly provided for in this year’s budget.
“We, therefore, expect to address this deficiency in the 2016 budget”, he explained, as he called for the stakeholders’ approval which was granted as Ekweremadu, Nnaji and Nwodo led the people from their respective senatorial districts to ask the governor to go ahead to set up the Local Government Caretaker Committees to avoid possible vacuum at the end of the tenure of the present council officials.
During the meeting, the governor drew ovations after his state of the state address that summarized achievements of his administration in the past six months.
The aforementioned leaders who spoke for the three senatorial districts in their separate remarks in response to the governor’s address gave him high ratings not only for the numerous projects embarked upon and others in the offing but also for Governor Ugwuanyi’s phenomenal feat of restoring peace and harmony among hitherto warring political leaders in the state.
The governor had also drawn the ovation of the people when he announced that all contractors handling on-going road projects in the state should on Wednesday approach the state Ministry of Works for further briefing. The directive meant that more work would be in the offing in various locations in the state.
Also at the meeting, the governor announced to the stakeholders that the state-owned Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu would be made a degree-awarding institution to place it at the same progression level with similar institutions elsewhere in the country established in the 1970s.
IMT was established in 1973 and its present management and the state government in a meeting a few days ago agreed that it was long over due for becoming a degree-awarding institution.
The governor’s announcement of the move was greeted with a resounding applause as he also enunciated plans to rehabilitate the institution.