For some people in Ebonyi state, David Umahi, the state Governor is seen as a messiah. From his infrastructural strides to the agricultural revolution in the state, he’s often been used as a yardstick in judging other Governors in the south-east.
For some, he has practically transformed Ebonyi State – especially the state capital, Abakaliki – once known and referred to as backward.
The face-lift in the state capital – that includes but not limited to inaugurating 3 flyovers in 3 years – is there for all to see.
But Ekubaraoha, as he’s fondly called does have some bad sides, and they are ugly.
In his many mistakes as the state governor, one area seems to stand out – the Ebonyi Local Government system.
Umahi and Ebonyi Local Government system.
Governor David Umahi, over the course of his term in office, has practically annihilated the state’s Local Government System.
From imposing on the locals his choice of LGA chairman to suspending them at the moment any one of them fails to do his bidding – these are the many ways Umahi is stifling the system in his state,
It’s safe to say that democracy does not exist in Umahi’s idea of a Local Government System.
The governor had upon inception as the state governor, adopted a dubious State/LG joint account and the use of caretaker chairmen to run Local Government system.
Those remained some of the means he allegedly used to siphon, misappropriate and divert funds meant for rural development through Local Government system to his private use – thereby impoverishing the people at the local level.
From those men, he placed as LG caretaker chairmen, until the time he allowed for his sham elections to produce substantive LGA chairmen, every single entity that has occupied the coveted number one seat in their various local council areas has been a rubber stamp.
He uses them at will. there were reports of caretaker chairmen, at a time signing cheques of certain funds that ran in billions – funds that will later be of no use to for rural development.
In 2016, Umahi was reported to have has diverted and used Ebonyi state local governments Paris Club money of about N2 billion to buy Innoson vehicles for traditional rulers in the state – as against what it was meant for.
Not to mention the fact that he suspends LGA chairmen unilaterally.
Recall that in April 2019, Umahi suspended the chairmen of Ikwo and Abakaliki local government areas over the communal crisis in both Local Council Areas.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the affected chairmen included: Mr Emmanuel Nwangele of Abakaliki and Chief John Nnabo of Ikwo local government area.
In addition, the governor also suspended all political office holders from communities in both councils—Enyibichiri, Noyo Echilaike from Ikwo and Edda, Enyigba communities from Abakaliki LGA.
Umahi coerces LGA Chairmen To Reject Financial Autonomy
But the last straw that broke the camel’s back was his move in May 2019 to coercing local government area chairmen in the state to sign an agreement rejecting the local government financial autonomy granted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari had in May initiated the move, through the Nigerian Financial Intelligence (NFIU), Unit -to be signed into law in June 2019 -which seeks to bar state governments from tampering with local government allocations.
This was after the NFIU had realized through its analysis that cash withdrawal and transactions of the State, Joint Local Government Accounts (SJLGA), posed the biggest corruption, money laundering and security threats at the grassroots levels and to the entire financial system and the country as a whole.
Consequently, it decided to uphold the full provisions of section 162 (6) (8)of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended which designated state Joint Local Government Account into which shall be paid allocations to the local government councils of the state from the federation account and from the government of the state.
But Umahi, determined to continue meddling with Local Government allocation, moved quickly to hypnotize his puppets of LGA chairmen in the state into signing a fraudulent agreement rejecting the financial autonomy.
The new NFIU directive was set to take effect from June 1, 2019, but Umahi had beforehand secured the signatures the LGA chairmen in the state to the fraudulent pact.
It is unclear, however, if all the 13 LGA chairmen in the state signed the agreement, but none of them had come forward to deny or distance themselves from the sabotage of their people since the dastardly act came to limelight.
How Ebonyi Patriotic Front is moving to stop this
obviously angered about the development and in the quest to liberate Eboyians from the shenanigans of governor Umahi, a group identified as Ebonyi Patriotic Front has quickly moved to call on the attention of the presidency, through the Office of the Director, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit to restore sanity in the state.
The group has effectively asked that the monthly allocation due to these Local Government Areas in Ebonyi state be withheld until a time the monies could be safe.
According to the convener of the group, Comrade Igwe Ude-Umanta, their position has become imperative in the light of the development in the state where puppet local government Chairmen had signed the toxic document purportedly rejecting the financial freedom which the agency had granted.
Among other requests, they asked that monthly allocation of the 13 Local Government Areas in the state be withheld until the LGA chairmen summon the courage to address their communities.
see a copy of the letter below.
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