If there is one arm of government in Anambra State that feels bitter, despondent and ill-treated, that arm is the third tier. This refers to the local government chairmen and councillors who were elected over two years ago to help deliver democracy dividends to the grassroots. But all expectations that trailed the election of these third tier operators, vis-à-vis the delivering of their mandate, were dashed following their abject neglect by the executive arm led by Governor Willie Obiano.
This neglect is prompting some of the operators in the third tier to embark on a state-wide demonstration to express their displeasure at the raw deal they have gotten at the hands of the executive.
Some of those who spoke to Fides on condition of anonymity, regretted that even though the state government used local government money to run the state, the actors in that sector had never been carried along.
Worse still, they alleged that their salaries had been slashed by some 30% when no other sector had experienced such. The neglect by the state government, they claimed, had made them unable to execute any project in their local governments/wards for the entirety of the duration of their tenure.
They also claimed that the state government had refused to pay them their statutory entitlements which were paid to the governor's special advisers and assistants in full. They wondered why those who were hardly known in their wards should be empowered above those who were voted for, by the people and who were looked upon to bring governance to the door steps of the people.
Some of the councillors who regretted that government's promises to them had not been fulfilled, accused the state government of trying to kill their political careers. They are thus vowing to upset the apple cart by revealing what the state government had been doing with local government money, pointing out that the N20m to be disbursed by the state government to each of the 177 communities in the state was nothing compared to what the state government had taken from the local governments in over two years.
They said the only thing that would make them to calm down was the payment of their entitlements, especially now that they were in the last month of their extended stay as caretaker members. This is even as they insist that they be paid their severance allowances which others are paid.
We are however appealing to the aggrieved councillors to exercise restraint, as any such demonstration as they plan to carry out may be injurious to the polity. We enjoin them to continue dialoguing with the executive as it remains the mature and peaceful way of settling differences.
In equal measure, we also call on the state government to urgently look into the grievances of the third tier operators which seem very genuine. If special assistants, special advisers and other appointees are deemed fit to receive their statutory entitlements, there is no reason why same should be denied those elected by the people to serve them; for after all, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
The needful should be done by all those concerned so that the peaceful polity we have been enjoying in the state will continue.
A stich in time save nine.