From Peter Okore, Umuahia
For the first time in Abia state, a crop of successful titans of industries, business top executives, technocrats, retired civil and public servants from government and multi-national oil companies , retired top military brass and consultants, have been assembled as Local Government Transition Committee Mayors with deputies to give local communities rapid development, which had eluded them over the years.
Before now, such appointments were reserved for political loyalists (bag-carriers, “the boys”, who were often alleged to be under oath to make returns to their masters), jobless men, friends, touts and the likes.
These crop of people were merely there to represent the interests of their masters, rather than the mandate of the people.This was, probably, why local government administrations and rural communities were neglected and relegated to the background. As a result rural areas lacked development, since the beginning of the democratic dispensation in Abia, and indeed Nigeria.
Based on the fore-going, the new administration of Abia state decided to change the narrative by adopting another system.
The administration took it upon itself to try those who have already made it in life, to see if there could be a change.
On why he appointed such caliber of people as Mayors and deputy mayors, Governor Otti declared: “We need the best hands and heads to drive the development of the state. We are in a hurry to elevate the standards of leadership to accommodate strictly those who have something to offer.”
Still worried by the way rural communities had been denied developments over the years in Abia, Otti gave his words: “My administration is working with multiple stakeholders, including multilateral and donor agencies, global IT companies and local financial institutions, to develop a robust framework for addressing the critical challenges facing the people. including endemic poverty, restricted access to basic amenities , limited skills for enhanced earning and unequal access to the boundless opportunities of the 21st century global economy.”
Inaugurating the newly appointed Transition Committee Mayors for the 17 Local Government Areas of Abia State, at the Micheal Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia, Otti charged the Mayors to make the local communities and towns conducive for active production and rapid growth.
In his speech titled: “Expanding the Frontiers of Development”, the Governor also charged the Mayors to quickly develop holistic frameworks for improving agriculture and large-scale production in ways that enhance outputs and attract domestic and foreign investors.
His words: “Your appointment is a call to serve and not to be served. We do not expect you to get everything right on the first day, but you must be willing to learn, keeping your minds open to new ideas and possibilities. This administration would give each of you freehand to manage the affairs of the council responsibly”.
The governor, therefore implored them to design their programmes in ways that fall in-line with the general development- philosophy of the present Labour Party administration in the State.
On security, the governor declared thus:”Your first task as leaders of the various LGAs shall include strengthening the security architecture in the towns and villages within your domain, especially, as the yuletide approaches.”
The governor charged them to get their priorities right, build networks that can help them drive the development agenda of the Labour Party in their LGAs and discern where more would be achieved through partnership with relevant agencies of the State. He admonished them to guard against distractions that are bound to come from internal wrangling.
He thanked the Mayors and their Deputies for accepting to bring their extensive wealth of experience in various fields of human endeavours to bear in the service of their communities and urged them to serve as the vanguards of the New Abia in the 17 LGAs.
Earlier in his speech, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prince Uzor Nwachukwu reiterated Otti’s great plans for the LGAs which include ensuring accelerated development in the for the grassroots.
He said there is no doubt that the Mayors would deliver given their pedigree.
Responding on behalf of the appointed Mayors and Deputies, Dr. Elelenta Nwambuisi Elelenta, Mayor for Isialangwa-South thanked the governor for the opportunity given them to serve the state.
He noted the rapid transformation going on in the state since Dr. Otti came on board and promised that all of them are determined to help the governor achieve rapid development in the Local government areas and the state in general.