By Pamela Eboh
Anambra State Governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, on Monday 22nd August, 2022 inaugurated a nine-member Committee for the State-Local Government Joint Account.
The Governor inaugurated the Committee shortly after the State Executive Council Meeting held at the Government House, Awka on Monday evening.
Members of the Committee include the Commissioner for Local Government, Mr. Collins Nwabunwanne who will serve as the Committee Chairman, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Ifeatu Onejeme, Vice Chairman and Dr. Leopold Arinze Nwankwo-Ikwueto, Secretary.
Other include Barr. Ifeatu Obiokoye, member representing Central Senatorial Zone, Dr. Nnamdi Nwadiogbu, member representing North Senatorial Zone, Sir Van George Ezeogudi, member representing South Senatorial Zone, Dr. Chibuike Ofobuike, member and Transition Committee Chairman representing South Zone.
All appointed were, Mrs. Amaka Obi, member and Transition Committee Chairman, representing Central Zone, Mr. Livinus Onyenwe, member and Transition Committee Chairman representing North Zone.
Speaking shortly after performing the inauguration, Soludo appreciated them for accepting to serve and commiserated with them for coming to serve in some very difficult circumstances.
He said, “The resources aren’t there. But at the same time, you are being called upon to do some very special disruptive function. It is going to be alot of hard work. Why do I say that? Because you are being called upon to do very disruptive work at a time of major challenges in the Country. Major challenges in the finances of the state and local government and you’ve been called upon to find the solution”.
“We are going to be employing over four thousand teachers, it’ll be charged to JAAC. Meanwhile, you have over fourteen billion naira debt in terms of arrears to gratuity and pensions. Part of it we have started to pay” and so on and so forth.”
The governor further explained that the local system is largely two fold including its financing and its administration, saying, “We are going to set up the local government administration. That’s definite. But the administration of the local government is a bit of challenge. The infrastructure in the various local governments including the ones that have been burnt down which need to be repaired as well as the workload. Even staff don’t go to work in the local governments. But we must eventually get the services down to the people”, the Governor said.
“For us we have a vision to have responsibility devolve to base and to have local government that is empowered from the base, to deliver development to the grassroot. And consequently, the finances that are very limited will have to be run in a different way. We have a peculiar local government system where the staff and other obligations of the local government are pulled together.”
On local government autonomy, Professor Soludo said; “I hear people talk about autonomy. If you want to implement a strict autonomy, it’ll mean that each local government will employ and pay its staff. That’s what it’ll mean but this is not the case. That’s why you find someone in Idemili working in Ayamelum and someone from Ayamelum working in Nnewi South because they have a pool system”.
The Governor also explained that resources accruable to the State governments from the federal are low because of NNPC’s inability to remit a kobo to the federation account, which he added that they may not do again because it is now a limited company.
He harped on the need for some sort of competitive system to be put in place for the various local governments.
“We are trying to devolve the responsibilities; waste management, security because we are now doing security at the community level, issues of Environment and so on and so forth. My aspiration and with you as the Committee, we are going to work together so that they too can compete and have lee way to raise their own revenues.
“They should become creative in generating revenue. Of course, when that lingers, we also expect you together with the service commission, to have some thought about not just to run the account, but you also have a job to do to have a new local government system and the financing framework that will deliver development to the people. We are seeking to have a local government that truly works”; Soludo added.
The Governor pointed out that regarding the management of the JAAC, alot of things will be done differently after careful thought process, especially in terms of financing options.
He added, “Some have got some assets that they can charge. Some have shops that they can ‘premise’ while some run mass transit system and so on and so forth. With the wisdom and calibre of people that make up this commission, I’m sure you will deliver because our intention is to rejuvenate the local government system.”
While presenting the Committee members for Inauguration earlier, the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Mr. Collins Nwabunwanne described them as competent to deliver on the mandate.
In a vote of thanks, Chairman of Transition Committee Chairmen, Mr. Livinus Onyenwe in his vote of thanks, appreciated the Governor for finding them worthy to serve in that capacity, pledging that the Committee will work round the clock to ensure efficient delivery of service to Ndi Anambra.