Enthroning Good Governance at The Grassroots In Ebonyi State
Since the inception of Governor Martin Elechi's Administration in Ebonyi State in May 2007, concerted efforts have been made to reposition the Local Governments as agents of grassroots development.
The thirteen Local Government Council Areas and Development Centres have therefore been enabled to address the real issues of development of communities in Ebonyi State as the third tier of government that is nearest to the people at the grassroots.
In order to ensure effective grassroots democratization, the present administration in collaboration with the State Independent Electoral Commission conducted one of the most credible and transparent Local Council elections in Ebonyi State in July 2007. The election therefore produced a new crop of Local Government Chairmen that appreciated the needs of the people and the imperative of grassroots development.
Inaugurating the Local Government Council Chairmen on November 1, 2007, Governor Martin Elechi laid down the guiding instruments for effective grassroots administration and charged them to rise up to the challenges posed by the third tier of government.
Government took another bold and practical step when it came up with a new law titled "Ebonyi State Local Government Councils and Development Centre Regulatory Amendment Law Number 004 of 2008 to achieve smooth operations of the Local Government system in Ebonyi State.
No doubt Council Chairmen in Ebonyi State have since then faced the challenges boldly by embarking on infrastructural development at the various communities.
Revenue accruing to the councils through the Ebonyi State Local Government Joint Account Committee (JAC) has effectively been ploughed into various development projects under the effective supervision of the Ministry of Local Government.
Ebonyi people are now in a better position to evaluate critically the performances of the thirteen Council Chairmen and Co-ordinators of Development Centres in terms of project delivery and cordial relations with people at the grassroots.
However the results of such assessment may not be made known now until the 2013 Local Government Elections and in the near future for those who may be bowing out having completed a second tenure in office.
Apart from the execution of projects at the different Council Areas, the Ministry of Local Government, Chieftaincy Matters and Rural Development closely worked with ALGON as a development catalyst of the Local Government system in Ebonyi State, the Local Government Chairmen and Co-ordinators of Development Centre as Chief Executives of Council Areas and the respective Development Centres.
For example the Ministry supervised the procurement of Eighteen Toyota Hilux Vans with security gadgets that were donated to the various security agencies in Ebonyi State by the Association of Local Government Chairmen. Similarly, the Association of Development Centre Co-ordinators procured and distributed thirteen (13) Toyota Hiace Ambulances to the thirteen General Hospital in Ebonyi State while the thirteen Local Education Authorities each were provided with Toyota Hilux Vans for effective schools monitoring in the Council Areas.
This is not all as the Council Chairmen and Co-ordinatiors executed various other projects in collaboration with other development partners and Ebonyi State Government through the payment of the necessary counterpart funds.
Following the vexed issue of kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Ritual Killings and other social vices, the Ministry of Local Government in her determination to provide the necessary peace and security at the grassroots level sought the collaboration of appropriate security departments to train Vigilante Groups who now assist the police in providing security for the people.
This is in addition to availing Traditional Rulers in Ebonyi State the opportunity of Leadership training and periodic interactions with their counterparts in other parts of Nigeria by sponsoring the Royal Fathers to meetings and conferences to equip them for effective and peaceful administration of their domains and or communities.
To achieve efficiency, the Ministry created three zonal officers in Abakaliki, Onueke and Afikpo as a measure to beef up the Inspectorate and monitoring services in the Local Government system and equally procured Hilux Vans for effective sensitization of rural communities.
This is to ensure- proper mobilization of the various Town Unions and Development Associations towards embarking on Self-Help projects and Poverty Alleviation Programmes while providing the necessary leadership training for the members of the Town Union Executives across the various communities in Ebonyi State.
Communities in Ebonyi State now peacefully conduct the necessary examination and processes of selecting their chosen Traditional Rulers elect and a good number of such Royal Fathers that emerged through peaceful and generally accepted process were on February 20, 2012 given official recognition and provided with Staff of office by the Ebonyi State Government.
However, the activities of a group of overzealous and endless office seekers if not checked may soon constitute a major setback in the operations of the thirteen Local Government Councils in Ebonyi State.
This is why those who are already clamouring for a yet to be vacated offices in the State Local Government Councils should give peace a chance and be careful not to overheat the system and cause un-necessary tensions that could hamper the smooth transition of elected Local Government Officials who still have about one year to spend in office.
There is every need therefore for elected council officials to be allowed to continue to provide the dividends of democracy to the people of the rural communities that constitute over seventy percent of the entire population of the state.
This is because it is only on the Platform of Peace and an atmosphere devoid of rancour and acrimony that elected Council Chairmen in Ebonyi State can perform optimally and achieve the desired development strides.
Governor Martin Elechi has properly harnessed the Local Government system in Ebonyi State to achieve the desired objective of massive rural development.
What is now required is the positive support of the people to further consolidate on the gains already made in the provision of necessary infrastructure to make life more meaningful for rural dwellers in Ebonyi State.
Alefia is the Head Of Publicity Bureau, Government House and wrote in from Abakaliki