Abia royal father wants financial autonomy for LGs
Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 14 January 2017 | 1,550 times
His Royal Highness, Eze Akpunku Iheuwa.
A traditional ruler in Abia State has advocated financial autonomy for local governments in the state now that democratically elected chairmen and councillors have been inaugurated.
His Royal Highness, Eze Akpunku Iheuwa, the traditional ruler of Umuokorodo autonomous community, Amachara, Umuahia, made the call during an interview with newsmen in his palace.
Speaking against the backdrop of the successful conduct of Local Government elections in the state and subsequent swearing in of the newly democratically elected council administrators, Eze Iheuwa noted that financial autonomy would help the democratic governments at the councils to deliver on their campaign promises.
Abia, like majority of the states of the federation, has been running the local system with political appointees constituted into Transition Committees for about 10 years now.
The royal father, a one-time chairman of the old Ikwuano/Umuahia Local Government Area said: “What is important is that the Local Governments should be given financial autonomy, to enable them to execute projects which they promised the electorate.
They should not be fiscally controlled by the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
“In fact, the staff from the various Local Governments are commending it (Local Government election), that it will guarantee the payment of their salaries as at and when due because the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs will hands off the resources of the Local Government and it will come straight to the Chairman of the Local Government and he has the right to disburse the money the way he likes and I am sure they (Local Governments) will take charge of pensions too,” he said.
He commended the State Government for taking the bold step to conducting the council polls, adding that the total victory achieved by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the election was not surprising.
According to him, “There is nothing that makes it impossible for one party to win the chairmanship positions of the 17 Local Governments and the 292 councillorship positions.
Nothing makes it abnormal. Abia is a PDP-administered area and if PDP won all the seats in Abia, it is not surprising.”
Iheuwa did not buy suggestions from some quarters that a fourth-tier government be established to be administered by traditional rulers.
“I don’t think there is need for a fourth-tier government headed by traditional rulers of respective autonomous communities.
“The autonomous community is part of the Local Government and the Local Government is part of the state, the state is part of the Federal Government. I do not see the need for a fourth-tier administration to be administered by the traditional rulers,” he argued.
He maintained a fourth-tier government would be one government too many and enjoined Royal Fathers to continue to remain loyal to the government that appointed them.
“I don’t think there is need for a fourth-tier government. What a traditional ruler should do is to respect the Governor that appointed him and ensure that the Governor succeeds in office by offering pieces of advice where he feels the Governor is erring,” he offered.