Kogi: INGRA knocks Gov Ododo for extending council chairmen’s tenure for another six months

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The Initiative for Grassroots Advancement in Nigeria (INGRA) has berated the Kogi State Government for extending the tenure of Transition Committee Chairmen for another six months.

The Executive Director of INGRA, Hamza Aliyu, in a statement on Monday, described the decision of the Kogi State House of Assembly to approve Governor Ododo’s request for the Council Chairmen to remain in office until January 8, 2025, as undemocratic and uncalled for.

Aliyu argued that the issue of finance, which Governor Ododo cited as a reason for not conducting council elections in Kogi State, is unfounded. He stressed that it is unconstitutional to deny citizens at the grassroots their legitimate right to elect their leaders.

The statement reads in part: “In June 2022, the Kogi State House of Assembly passed the Local Government Autonomy Bill during the 1999 Constitutional Amendment process under the Buhari Administration. This move was hailed by all, despite the amendment not being successful due to not getting the required concurrence of 24 state assemblies.

“The move brought hope to citizens that at last, we as a state are moving in the right direction as it concerns governance at the local level. It was heartbreaking when, in January 2024, the former administration of then-Governor Yahaya Bello, upon the expiration of the tenure of the elected Local Government Councils, which he midwifed, appointed Caretaker Committees rather than bequeath an elected successor to the Councils.

“It was devastating to citizens who had expected, called for, and wished for continuity in the local government democratic culture as enshrined in Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“The reasons for poor finances for the non-conduct of elections at the local government level by the state government are not only untenable but downright unbelievable.

“The January-April 2024 NET allocation (minus all deductions) to the state and 21 local governments, as stated by the Federal Ministry of Finance, stood at over N56.4 billion (fifty-six billion naira). This is way more than enough to conduct any form of local government council elections, providing citizens the opportunity to decide who governs them at the local level.

“This is a violation of their constitutional right to participate in governance and deprives them of the sole dividend of democracy—participation.

“It is evident that other reasons, not finance, could be adduced for this inaction. It would have been unthinkable and definitely bordering on unconstitutionality for the President of Nigeria to not conduct elections after four years at the state level and appoint caretaker governors.

“It means that governors, who are the primary beneficiaries of elections conducted by the Federal Government, must not deny those same rights to others at the local council levels.”

He called on Kogi State Governor Usman Ododo to, as a matter of urgency, rescind this extension and make arrangements to immediately organize elections into the local councils to give citizens, especially youths, the opportunity to practice democracy and strengthen the culture of elections.

Aliyu also called on the Kogi State House of Assembly to ensure that democratic principles and structures are protected and guarded, no matter the pressure and circumstances.

DAILY POST recalls that the tenure of the 21 Transition Committee Chairmen in Kogi State will expire today, July 8, 2024.

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