Findings from tour of 17 LG areas in Enugu state will improve rural development – Deacon Ogbodo

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Most likely, the system of local government across the 17 local government areas in Enugu state will not be business as usual. It is obvious that Governor Mbah will capitalise on the findings from the recent tour of the 17 local government areas,handled by the state commissioner for Local Government, Rual Development and Chieftancy Affairs,Deacon Okey Ogbodo,to stimulate strategies that would enhance commitment of the Council chairmen to rural development.

By MAURICE OKAFOR.

The present administration in Enugu state led by Governor Peter Mbah is very optimistic in turning around the management and administration of the 17 Council areas in the state for more oriented results,in terms of endearing social amenities in the rural communities that would enhance rural development,discovering untapped natural and human resources that can spark development when exploited.

Governor Mbah’s administration is also keen in promoting conviviality and understanding among the various stakeholders, which is a panacea for even development.

The pertinent need to look indepth in the operations of the local government system stems on the fact that it is the third tier of government in the democratic governance in Nigeria,as provided and protected by the 1999 constitution.

By implication,the local government system is the nearest to the grass roots and based on the fact that each of the 774 constitutionally gazetted local government areas in Nigeria are entitled and collects monthly allocation from the federation account(FAAC),it behoves on them(local govt areas) to cater for the socio infrastructural needs and development of their respective rural areas,to a large extent.

Research findings shows that Enugu state is among the states that has constitutionally complied with the constitutional provision of running and maintaining the local government system as a third tier of government,especially since the return of the Fourth republic democratic dispensation in 1999.Towards this direction, the state has maintained a policy of conducting local government election every two years. A process whereby supposed stakeholders with proven integrity,experience and managerial ability are democratically elected to manage the affairs of each the 17 council areas,relying on the monthly allocation they collects from the federation account and the internally generated revenue(IGR),each of them were able to geberate in their respective council areas.

Checks revealed that the lack of social amenities or dilapidation where originaly established and increasing rate of poverty coupled with increasing rate of rural to urban migration into Enugu metropolis,often generate controversies whether the umpires of local government administration in Enugu state are living up to expectations in discharging the social contract they agreed with the people .

To a large extent, the poor state of development in most rural communities in Enugu state, informed the reason of the present administration in the state led by Governor Mbah, barely five months in office to approve for a tour of the 17 local governnent areas of the state for an interface with the council chairmen in the presence of the various stakeholders,Town Union executives,Traditional rulers,Women and Youth groups,etc to discuss problems militating against the mansgement of their council area and fashion a way forward.

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The tour was also designed to note the score card of each of the 17 council chairmen.

In tandem with the ‘Disruptive Innovation’ agenda of Governor Peter Mbah administration,the tedious task of touring the 17 Enugu state local government areas and holding interaction with each of the council chairmen and the various stakeholders have been done and dusted by the state commissioner for local government,rural development and chieftancy affairs,Hon.Deacon Okey Ogbodo,accompanied by a group of technocrats who are concerned citizens with passion for effecting meaning management and oriented results in Enugu state local government system.

The tour of the 17 council areas of Enugu state was not a ‘Tea party’,Instead a hard task that was accomplished by Commissioner Ogbodo and his team,among whom were Dr Augustine Okoli, a former director with National Orientation Agency(NOA),Barr.SNC Nwagu,Barr.Gab.Ogbe and Hon Richard Nnamani.

The tour began with a visit to Uzo-Uwani local government area on Tuesday,the 31st day of October 2023 and was concluded on Saturday,December 23rd,2023 with a visit to Aninri Council area.

None of the tour was by proxy.With determination and commitment,the state commissioner for local government,rural development and chieftancy affairs,Hon Deacon Okey Ogbodo,physically led in the tours and participated in all the interactive sessions with the grassroots and stakeholders,held at the respective local government headquarters on each day of the tour.

Addressing the stakeholders of Uzo -Uwani local government area,comprising of traditional rulers, Town Union Presidents, Politicians irrespective of party of affililiation,Women groups,Youth groups,among others, Deacon Ogbodo highlighted that Governor Mbah was desirous to have embarked on the tour by himself but tight schedule of duties would not permit him at the moment but hopefully at a later date.

He expressed gratitude to the people of Uzo-Uwani council area for their solidarity which transformed into the election of Dr Peter Ndubuisi Mbah,as the current governor of Enugu state. He assured that Governor Mbah is optimistic in fulfilling his campaign promises to the people of Enugu state most especiallly to the rural populace,which is the essrnce of the tour.

At the interactive session held at Umulokpa head quarters,the commissioner for local government,rural development and chieftancy matters,Deacon Ogbodo, emphasised that the ‘Disruptive Innovation’ agenda of Governor Mbah is not meant to disrupt the zoning principle of sharing elective positions during council elections,but to ensure that the elected chairmen lives up to expectations in the areas of providing social amenities for the rural dwellers, human empowerment, the relationship with other stakeholders including Traditional rulers,Town Unions,the Councillors,Women and Youth groups,all of whom are vital for the existence of social peace and harmony,witthout which there will be no meaningful development in the council areas.In summary, the tour targetted seriously on examining the sciore card of every serving Council chairman in Enugu state while welcoming suggestions on rooms for improvement from contribution made by stakeholderd during interactive session,held at each of the local government area head quarters.

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The purpose and objectives of the tour was clearly stated and monitored in every of the 17 local government area of the state,excerpt for the fact that Deacon Ogbodo,who is a pioneer member of PDP in Enugu state,when the party was originally formed in 1999,took out time to under study the performance of the party in the various wards in each of the council areas,in what he termed as ‘POST MOTEM’ of the last general election in Enugu state.

Deacon Ogbodo emphasised that Enugu state is accustomed to Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and should remain so,if it’s citizens must participate and play active role in National politics. He stressed that in both international politics,only two party takes the lead while other minority parties are most often dormant.

According to him,the PDP and APC are the two dorminant parties in Enugu state,with PDP as the ruling party and APC,as the major opposition party in Enugu state. He lamented that the coming and success of Labour party in the South East zone,in the last general election was a protest vote against the National leadership of the party,for not zoning 2023 PDP presidential ticket to the zone.

He urged the stakeholders to welcome those who left for Labour party,back to the PDP fold in all the 260 electoral wards in Enugu state.

Addressing this matter at Udenu local government headquarters during an interactive session,Deacon Ogbodo stated,”PDP remains the ruling party in Enugu state.You should observe that our party is now controlling the majority in the state house of assembly,as one of your sons,Hon Solomon Onah,today took oath of office to represent Udenu constituency in the state assembly. What happened in the last general election was a protest vote against the national leadership of our party for not zoning it’s presidential ticket to the South East zone”.

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“Enugu state remains a PDP state.We cannot afford to join a minority party. To enable our people play politics at the center, Enugu state remains with PDP. We shall maintain open doors to welcome those our members,who went to Labour party.It is time to build up our party once again.We have established structures which they have not. Therefore,Enugu state still remains a PDP state”,Deacon Ogbodo stated.

Speaking to newsmen in Enugu on Saturday,23rd December after the arduous task of touring the 17 local government areas successfully,Commissioner Ogbodo said the findings from the tour will enable the present administration led by Governor Mbah devise strategies of monitoring the Council chairmen for improved performance, provision of social amenities that would impact on the rural dwellers etc, “Even as the chairmen collects monthly allocation from the federation account, It behoves on them to do the needful and that was why we requested for their score cards”,Deacon Ogbodo stated.

He stated further,”What made the local government tour more spectacular was the fact that it was interactive, the citizens and stakeholders asked questions freely”

“If the rural areas are not developed,Enugu state will not be recognised as a developed state. The interactions were so informative,educative and will help in evaluating what the Council chairmen has done and doing in their respective council areas.That is the essence of disruptive innovation agenda introduced by our dear governor,Dr Peter Ndubuisi Mbah.The emphasis is not to disrupt zoning principle of sharing or electing political office holders in our local government administration,but to ensure the elected chairmen to be accountable and work for the good of their people”,Commissioner Ogbodo stated.

Deacon Ogbodo disclosed to news men that the tour also enabled him weigh the political spread of PDP in Enugu state, a post motem of the performance of PDP in the last general election in the state.

“His words,”The findings from the tour will also enable Governor Mbah take decision on how to restructure our party(PDP) in Enugu state to be in tune with the wish of the masses”,Deacon Ogbodo disclosed.

Checks revealed that this is the first time since the inception of Fourth democractic dispensation in 1999,that an elected civilian governor will give directive for a tour of the 17 council areas of the state,for a participatory and interactive session with the grass roots and stakeholders on how best to run their local government for an all inclusive administration and improved performance.

End.

PIX……Enugu Commissioner for LGA, Rural Devt and Chieftancy Affairs,Deacon Okey Ogbodo.

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