Idowu Olakunle, Abeokuta
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has attributed the late conduct of the local government elections in the state to the outbreak of the dreaded COVID – 19 pandemic.
The governor cleared the air yesterday in Abeokuta while inaugurating the newly elected Chairmen and Councillors at the just concluded local government polls in the state.
Prince Dapo Abiodun’s clarification came amid criticisms over his administration’s alleged lackluster attitude to dissolve local government transition committees in the state and replace them with duly elected council members.
“We could have done this earlier but for the outbreak of COVID-19 and the need to adhere strictly to the Prevention Protocols” the governor said.
He noted that the leadership of his party, the All Progressives Congress “abhors vacuum” at the and Local Government Administration level, hence the appointment of the transition chairmen.
According to the governor, to take charge of local government administration “we inaugurated Local Government Transition Committees on Friday, 17th January, 2020 with a view to conducting a properly organised election within the shortest possible time. But the pandemic that struck in our State on 27th February of last year made this unrealisable, hence the transition committees’ stay in office for 18 months”
The governor however expressed joy that many of the transition committees acquitted themselves creditably in the discharge of the assignment given them.
He explained that his administration set up the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission, OGSIEC, as a demonstration of its resolve to provide a conducive environment for the conduct of free and fair election at the third-tier of government, according to Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution.
Prince Abiodun who posited that some people may not understand the seriousness that was attached to the conduct of the local government elections, congratulated all the newly elected Chairmen of the 20 Local Government Areas in the State on their respective electoral successes.
“For one, I commend you for stepping out to make yourselves available for service and most especially, for the entrenchment of good governance at the grassroots level,” the governor said, urging them to appreciate the fact that their victory at the polls was multidimensional.
“It is a combination of the confidence reposed in your individual abilities; the faith the people have reposed in our great party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) to provide the needed development and ensure individual prosperity for our people at the grassroots. It is a call to service,” he said.
He enjoined them to appreciate the enormity of the responsibility their victory places on their shoulders, stressing “therefore, your assumption of office must bring a new vista of development to our people at the grassroots.
“In doing this, you must be inclusive; you must be transparent; you must be accountable; you must be fair; you must be just; you must be equitable; you must obey the rule of law; you must provide good governance; you must be judicious,” the governor charged.
While reminding the newly elected Council executives not to turn themselves to “Mr or Mrs I know it All,” he equally told them that they must understand that they could not rely exclusively on allocations from the Federal Government.
“You will have to be creative in generating funds internally, and incorporate the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model,” he said.
” But in doing this, you cannot afford to over-burden the people who are the essence and facilitators of your being in power. You should take a cue from our approach at the State level by being cerebral; methodical; systemic and ensure strategic allocation of funds.”
He, however, assured them that his administration at the state level would continue to support local government administrations with funds where and when necessary.
“Our Administration will continue to formulate policies and implement programmes that are people-friendly. We expect you to replicate same at your level. All these will further bring to fruition the successful implementation of the ‘Building our Future Together Agenda.’ I expect that you will take a cue from us and implement your own Local Government brand of I.S.E.Y.A.” the governor emphasized.
He called on the people of the State, particularly at the Local Government level to hold the Council Chairmen to account.
“You have voted them in. You should also ensure that you continue to give them suggestions on how to improve the lots of the people in their areas,” he noted.
“We must understand that the democratic process does not end at electing representatives but also in helping them to do what we have elected them to do.”
The governor assured that his administration would continue to respect the autonomy of the local government and give them necessary support to carry out their constitutional responsibilities.