By Jude Atupulazi
The Anambra State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Hon Tonycollins Nwabunwanne, says the ministry has restored peace to many communities in the state through the adoption of a transparent election process and strict observance of guidelines and constitutions of the various communities, noting that it was a clear departure from the scenario before the present administration came on board.
The commissioner who disclosed this in an exclusive interview with Fides in his office at Government House, Awka, said that whenever democracy took place, people chose their leaders freely.
His words, ‘Because you don’t like the face of a person, you now go to government to influence so that you can put caretaker there. So, that is what has been happening in all communities. For us to return peace, we must create a policy, strategy for election at the community level.
‘That was why we now adopted Option A4 and followed the guidelines and the constitutions. That is one major aspect this administration has done very well. So far, we have done 83 elections; we reinstated three through the rule of law and court judgement.’
The commissioner who cut his teeth in administration as a local government chairman before now, also recalled that “when we came, the local government was nearly deserted and was like a place where people had never visited”. A development, he said, which made his ministry to find out why people did not go to work and why the local governments were deserted.
‘We also looked at the community level – why caretakers are everywhere because of problems here and there. And we looked the Chieftaincy Law alongside the Community Law – to see how both of them could function effectively. These areas were the major challenges for the government in the past.
‘And what we are trying to do is to find out how we can trim down government participation in the grassroots, so that everybody there can feel what the government is doing. Most times, everything is done in the state capital, Awka. So, my vision when I came on board was to create a very good enabling environment where workers could work, because they don’t come to work, earn promotion as and when due.
‘All these put together, we need to restructure the local government to know the number of staff we have there; how much is being owed to the people that have finished their years of service and have not been paid their gratuities. So, these are the things we started putting together in different segments to find solutions to, because solution is here,’ Nwabunwanne disclosed.
He said among the things they did was to bring back peace to the 179 communities, of which about 50 per cent were in disarray.
‘In some of them, there were court orders, telling the government to reinstate people because they were wrongly removed from office, but the past administration refused,’ he said.
He noted that one of the cardinal points in the state government’s manifesto was rule of law.
‘So, when I came, we looked at it and found that there was merit; that is why there is a court judgement in favour of these people. Then, what we did was to reinstate them,’ Nwabunwanne stated.