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  • Politics - Imo
  • Updated: February 26, 2024

Uzodinma given ultimatum by CSOs to conduct LG elections

Uzodinma given ultimatum by CSOs to conduct LG elections

Imo State civil society organizations (CSOs) have issued a three-month ultimatum to Governor Hope Uzodimma, demanding the prompt organization of local government elections.

The CSOs, including the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Christian Aid, and the Tax Justice and Governance Platform, held a joint news briefing in Owerri on Sunday.

They urged the Imo House of Assembly to pass a resolution compelling the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission to initiate the electoral process before May.

In a statement titled ‘Imo State Economic Challenges and Debt Management amid Economic Uncertainties in Nigeria’, the Tax Justice and Governance Platform coordinator, Chibundu Uchegbu, said the council elections were overdue.

Uchegbu said: “The people of the state are no longer progressing as they should due to the absence of leadership at the LG level. The last time Imo held an LG election was in August 2018, with the set of elected LGA officials disbanded in less than one year in office – specifically in May 2019 – by a successive government.

“Since that time to date, the affairs of the LG system in the state are being run by unelected officials, therefore denying the people their democratic rights, aspirations and privileges.

“This is a clear violation of section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which says, ‘The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the government of every state shall subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law, which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance functions of such councils’.”

He said that despite the huge sums of money injected into their treasury monthly from the Federation Account Allocation Committee, LGs are not living up to their responsibilities to the people at the grassroots level.

“This is because the state government prefers to use appointees to run the affairs of the LGAs,” he said.

The CSOs urged the Imo government not to interfere in the LG chairpersons’ activities when elected to enable them to function optimally.

The CSOs further decried the “escalating debt burden in the state.”

They argued that the data from the National Bureau of Statistics as of June 30, 2023, indicate that the domestic debt profile of the state stood at over N220.8 billion.

According to Uchegbu, the foreign debt profile at the same time stands at a disturbing $77.8 million, coupled with an unemployment rate of 56.6 per cent.

He said that the escalating debt burden was, in one way or another, affecting the well-being of over 6.7 million people in Imo.

He called on the state lawmakers to “enact legislation making it compulsory that every loan collected by the government – both domestic and foreign – should be tied to identifiable capital expenditure, development programmes and projects.”

The CSOs called for enacting a Fiscal Responsibility Law in the state, emphasising debt management, transparency and accountability in all fiscal matters.

They said the law should define the purpose of incurring debts in clear terms, with debts being for projects promoting value chain development, improving the macro-economic framework, developing infrastructure, and building strategic human capital.

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