Posted by Charles Iwuoha, Enugu | 17 June 2019 | 725 times
A former chairman of Afikpo South Local Government Area, Chief Egwu Chima, has faulted the decision of the 13 Local Government Area chairmen of Ebonyi over their rejection of financial autonomy.
Chima, who reacted to the development, told newsmen in Abakaliki on Sunday that the decision was rather bizarre and a demonstration of lack of self confidence on the part of the elected council chairmen.
It was gathered that after their meeting held on May 23, the 13 local government chairmen of Ebonyi state passed a resolution rejecting direct allocation from the federation allocation to the local government areas in Nigeria.
The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) recently released a guideline which came into force on June 1, directing that the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria would henceforth become directly in charge of their allocations.
According to the circular, the maximum amount to be withdrawn by cash from the banks is pegged at N500,000 daily while other withdrawals are to be done electronically.
But, the council chairmen in Ebonyi kicked against the guideline in preference to the status quo which allowed for a central management of finances of local government areas in the state from where funding for some projects and payment of salaries were made.
Chima, who condemned the decision of the chairmen for kicking against financial autonomy as unpopular, however maintained that the manner and circumstances in which the chairmen emerged as heads of government in their various councils had influenced their decision.
“I am not surprised to see or hear and observed that local government chairmen in Ebonyi voted against financial autonomy, I am not surprised at all.
“I am equally not surprised because the circumstances in men’s life should dictate their philosophy and conversely their philosophy influences their circumstances or decisions.
“They allegedly took the unwise decision apparently to appease the Governor of the state, Chief Dave Umahi, who was instrumental in their emergence as council chairmen.
“However, it is important to note that such bizarre decision which they took without consulting other stakeholders showcased their incompetence, political naivety and outright vote of no confidence on themselves.
“What the action implied is that they as elected chairmen lacked the capacity, wisdom and intelligence to prudently manage the finances accruing to their local government areas.
“Lack of financial autonomy will impede more cash flows at the grassroots thereby slowing down development and increase poverty level among rural dwellers,” Chima said.
He said that the constitution provided that states should provide 10 per cent of their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) for funding of critical infrastructures at the local government levels but regretted that state governors had abused the provision.
“The idea of states and local government joint accounts came from this provision but unfortunately, governors abused it and exploited to the advantage of the state governments,” he added.
Chima, who also was former commissioner for Information and State Orientation as well as Commissioner for Inter Party Affairs, however commended the Umahi administration for ‘democratically’ using the local government funds for infrastructural development.
“In the present day Ebonyi, the state government is helping the local governments to utilise their allocations for development of infrastructures in various communities.
“The governor is forcefully dictating the pace of development in rural communities the way the public is appreciating it.
“Frankly speaking, Ebonyi is one of the unique states in Nigeria where you have good roads in their rural areas where the roads are built or being built from the allocations accruing to the various councils and this is courtesy of the governor,” he added.
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