Home » Election Standstill: Imo’s Crisis of Local Governance Deepens

Election Standstill: Imo’s Crisis of Local Governance Deepens

Imo State Suffers as Local Governments Languish Without Elections

by Adenike Adeodun

In the Nigerian state of Imo, there is a lack of democratic representation at the local council level. Instead of holding statutory local council elections, the state governor appoints administrators, often chosen based on personal connections. This is a widespread issue in Nigeria that undermines democratic principles and slows down local development. In Imo, this practice has led to a lack of accountability and poor performance at the local government level, which has significantly affected the welfare of the community.

It has been five years since the last local council elections were held in Imo State. During this time, Governor Hope Uzodimma has continued to appoint officials to fill the administrative void. This situation has raised concerns about the current administration’s commitment to democracy. The previous local elections were conducted hastily in 2019, towards the end of Rochas Okorocha’s administration. Subsequent administrations have dissolved these elected bodies and replaced them with appointed caretaker committees or sole administrators.

Governor Uzodimma took office in January 2020 following a Supreme Court ruling. He has continued the trend of dismissing the caretaker committees established by his predecessor, Emeka Ihedioha. Moreover, he has also delayed the elections, appointing sole administrators to prepare for them. The constantly changing administrators have become a permanent feature of governance, with no election in sight. The governor has cited security concerns as the primary reason for the delays, but this justification has been contentious among political analysts and citizens. This is because other elections, including gubernatorial elections, have been conducted under similar conditions.

Despite receiving substantial financial allocations, the local governments under these administrators have shown little to no progress in terms of development. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), over N88.3 billion was allocated to the 27 local councils in Imo State for 2021 and 2022, with each council receiving an average of N2.27 billion in 2023 alone. However, a visit to various local council headquarters reveals a grim picture of neglect—dilapidated infrastructure, abandoned offices, and unmaintained roads. This discrepancy between the funds received and their apparent utilization raises serious questions about corruption and mismanagement.

The functionality of local councils is compromised due to the irregular presence and payment of local government employees. Many of these workers reside in urban centers far from their workplaces, and reportedly attend work sporadically without any enforcement of regular office hours. Additionally, the issue of unpaid salaries exacerbates the situation, with some workers allegedly owed up to nine months’ wages. This condition not only reflects administrative chaos but also has a human cost resulting from governance failure.

This administrative paralysis at the local level has prompted various civil society organizations like Tax Justice and Governance Platform (TJ&GP), Christian Aid, and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) to intervene. These organizations have publicly demanded that Governor Uzodimma democratize the local councils by holding elections. The groups argue that only through democratic elections can the local councils achieve genuine autonomy, which will enhance their ability to govern effectively and initiate development projects that reflect the needs and aspirations of their communities.

Various political parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), and African Democratic Congress (ADC), have called for elections in Imo State. They believe that democratizing local councils is essential for deepening democracy in the state. The ADC has specifically highlighted the potential of a democratically elected local government system to empower youth, reduce crime, and foster economic development. This, in turn, can help solve some of the underlying social issues that contribute to insecurity and instability in the state.

However, the administration of Governor Uzodimma has been reluctant to hold council elections, despite these pressures and the clear mandate of the Nigerian Constitution. This reluctance underscores a broader governance crisis that not only affects Imo State but also reflects a pervasive challenge across Nigeria. The local government autonomy is often compromised for political expediency, which weakens the democratic fabric and leads to a disillusioned citizenry.

As a result, governance at the grassroots level remains in limbo, and the people of Imo State continue to wait for council elections. This ongoing situation serves as a stark reminder of the challenges facing democratic governance in Nigeria. The principles of accountability, transparency, and public participation in government are often sacrificed for political convenience. For democracy to take root and flourish, it must be nurtured at the most local levels, starting with the conduct of free and fair elections. This will empower those closest to the everyday lives and concerns of the citizens.


Source: The Guardian

You may also like

logo white

Born from an unwavering commitment to the nation’s progress, we stand as an emblem of independent journalism dedicated to serving the interests of progressive Nigerians from every corner of our diverse and vibrant country.

© 2024 The Nigerian Patriot. All Rights Reserved.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com