For House who are warming-up to contest local government elections in Akwa Ibom State, their hope is as good as being dashed.
The Sensor authoritatively gathered that lack of funds has stalled the conduct of the exercise as the state Government is already on high debt profile and it is said to have no money to finance the election.
The source further disclosed that even if the election was to be held, the local government which operate a joint account with the state Government may not be able to pay the council executive and councillors, thus, the state government non commitment to the conduct of the election as it would add more finance burden and liability to the state.
It would be recalled that the tenure of last democratically elected council chairman and councillors expired on July, 2015, barely two months into the life of the present administration. Since then, the Governor Udom Emmanuel led administration has been running the councils through caretaker committee which has nothing to contribute to the development of rural areas, thus defeating the very essence of creating Local government councils.
When the first six months of the councils expired, the governor wrote to the state House of Assembly with the hope that at the expiration of one year tenure, the state Government will conduct election.
This, it was learnt, prompted many especially in the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP in the state to begin consultation some, it was further learnt, have so far invested huge sum of money to mobilize support from their constituents.
But with none commitment to the conduct of the exercise based on perceived lack of fund, the hope of occupying the third tier, of government through an election has been dashed.
Added to the confusion trailing the conduct of the local government election is lack of activities at the Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission, AKISIEC. A check at the electoral office revealed lack of activities even when the present tenure of the caretaker committee will expire in less than three months.
A PDP councillorship aspirant, Mr. Ukpong Akpan while reacting to the development, expressed disappointment that election would not take place afterall. He condemned the caretaker committee put in place, noting that the committee is not accountable to the people. Akpan, urged governor Udom to mobilize AKISIEC to carryout its duties and ensure that election is conducted.
Another councillorship aspirant, Ndifreke Effiong Umoh, said that plan to appoint new caretaker committee would not be in the best interest of the masses. He further noted that since the appointment of the present caretaker committee members, local government areas have been abandoned while the committee chairman and some few members only visit there during public functions or when salaries are paid.
He submitted that there is no better alternative than having an elected officials that would be accountable to the people.
An All Progressive Congress, APC Chieftain in the state, Obong Friday Akpan chided the State Government for failing to carry out the mandatory 90 days proclamation in preparation for the local government election.
He said that non-availability of fund is not an excuse to failed to carryout an important exercise of ensuring that democratically elected leadership of local government areas are put in place
Meanwhile, the State House of Assembly is said to be not committed to ensuring that local government elections is conducted. It was learnt that the House would approve the extension of caretaker committee provided the governor settles than in terms of naira and kobo.