The Grassroots Mirror a platform that consists of former elected representatives at the Local Government level, lovers of democracy and good governance at the grassroots has described the appointment of non-elected Management Committee Chairmen as unconstitutional and should be reverse for the interest of democracy.
In a press statement made available to our correspondent jointly signed by the Chairman, Rt. Hon. Ayuba Jagaba and the secretary, Hon. Sunday Niagwan said that the association is with the sole aim of protecting and promoting democratic structures, values and principles of good governance.
Hon Jagaba stressed; “We are aware of a communication to the Plateau State House of Assembly by the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong for the appointments of Local Government Chairmen and Secretaries which were subsequently confirmed by the House in a controversial and unconstitutional manner”.
He condemned in it totality the move as he said as an interested party for the sake of the survival of democracy and good governance in Plateau State and Nigeria as a whole, “we make our modest observations and contributions on the appointments of APC Members as Chairmen, Secretaries and Ward Councilors across the State instead of conducting Local Government Elections.
It would be recalled, “the battle to have Local Government Councils under the jurisdiction of States came into effect 2002 with the landmark Supreme Court judgment against the Federal Government supervision of the councils”
Hon Jagaba expressed concern that there has emerged however, a worrisome trend in the dominant leadership at the Federal and State levels expecting total control and patronage from the Chairmen and Councilors at the Local governments.
Some States, particularly Plateau State, have taken the lead by appointing persons of the ruling political party as care-taker committee Chairmen and members. In spite of the outcry by the people of Plateau State, the Barrister Simon Lalong-led administration has gone ahead to appoint APC members as Chairmen, Secretaries and Ward Councilors to the detriment of other political parties when elections are supposed to be conducted to fill the vacuum created in the Local Government Council due to non-existence of democratically elected representatives, he said.
He negated the essence for the establishment of Local Government system which clearly contravenes the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended).
Jagaba cautioned that Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution clearly and unambiguously guarantees the system of Local Government by democratic election not by selection.
Jagaba faulted the provision, neither the Federal government nor State government is empowered by the Constitution to either dissolve or postpone elections into Councils.
He accused the governor over the activities of the Councils which doesn’t meet with desired and constitutional expectations, it can make proposals to the National Assembly for amendments to the Constitution concerning Local Government structures and operations in the Country.
Jagaba said absence of elected is misguided idea of setting up Local Governments and having them headed by elected officials, neither is there anything wrong with the power extended to State House of Assembly constitutionally to legislate on affairs of Local Government Councils.
He said what is very disturbing is the paradox of refusing to conduct elections at the Local Government level while elections were conducted at the State and Federal levels. Ironically, democratic structures at the Local Government level were the first to be established in 1998 and served as the cornerstone for the subsequent emergence of similar structures at other levels following the return to civilian rule.
Like the proverbial situation of a ladder, recent development seems to suggest that beneficiaries of these arrangements have turned around to kick down the very ladder they used to climb up, to be replaced by unconstitutional arrangements to service narrow, selfish and illegal motives.
Questions that must be answered include: Why was it possible for elections to be conducted at both States and Federal levels and not for Local Government Councils as when due? If it is true that the essence of the claimed reforms of Local Governments is to avoid corruption, wastage of funds and inefficiency, why not at all levels? Is it right or constitutional to dissolve democratic structures and deny democratic representation at the Local Government level?
With the present arrangement in the State, is this not a time bomb waiting to explode, if competing interests are not sensibly balanced through credible elections? Is it not ironic that while the government is complaining of wastage and inefficiency at the Local Governments level, they have chosen an equally wasteful and corrupt means of siphoning public funds by appointing persons who are not accountable to the electorates?
- We are calling on the Honorable House as the true representative and the voice of the people to rescind on its earlier approval and restrain the Executive Governor from appointing the illegal Chairmen, Secretaries and Ward Councilors across the State as this action is unconstitutional, undemocratic and unacceptable.
- We are calling on the House to prevail on the Governor to reinstate the illegally dissolved Local Government structures to complete their constitutional mandate OR immediately conduct elections into the Local Government Councils.
iii. Failure of the State House of Assembly to act swiftly on the above stated position could be met with resistance by the people of Plateau State to defend their Constitutional right.
In conclusion, we look forward to an affirmative action by the Plateau State Governor and State House of Assembly on the sensitive issues raised and also hope Plateau State will overcome the teething problems associated with backward democracies that have remained static under the guise of the learning process.