Several towns in Anambra state are locked in town union leadership crisis arising from varying degrees of the imposition of town union president general and other members of the town union executive.
Town unions no doubt, are veritable partners for development especially because the mandate of the town union leadership comes from their people. However, recent developments show that the tide is changing, but not for good. Elected town union leadership is fast being replaced with the government-appointed caretaker committee in different towns in Anambra state and it is breeding rancor and protestations of public disapproval. As at the last count, there are over forty caretaker committees across different communities in Anambra state where the tenure of the subsisting town union leadership has elapsed but instead of conducting an election to produce new leaders, a caretaker committee is imposed and renewed every three months.
Ndiowu community protested against imposition of leaders on the community and accused Hon. Emeka Aforka who is from Ndiowu community and the member representing the Orumba North constituency in Anambra.
Only a few weeks ago, the Ndiowu community protested against imposition of leaders on the community and accused Hon. Emeka Aforka who is from Ndiowu community and the member representing Orumba North constituency in Anambra state House of Assembly of causing confusion in their town. Currently, Ogbu, Agulu, Igbariam, Ezi-Agulu-Otu, Mbaukwu, and many other communities are trapped in series of controversy and pending chaos, over imposition of leaders on their town union. Oko community is only the latest to join the league. And today, aggrieved Oko people came out en-mass to register their displeasure over imposition of leaders on their community. The protesters gathered in front of Anambra State Government House Awka and later in front of Anambra State House of Assembly Complex, Awka until they were addressed by the Deputy Speaker of the House; Rt. Hon. Pascal Agbodike.
In an exclusive interview with the West Africa Pilot News correspondent, Mr. Ifeanyi Asuzu, one of the leaders of the protest, regretted that the level of crass impunity his community has experienced and imperious, iniquitous insolence is so hard to swallow. He maintained that there was no election in Oko, yet, the government has issued a certain Amobi Okoli a certificate as the president general of Oko community.
“We are here to ask the Honourable Speaker to use his good offices to restore sanity in my home town Oko”, Ifeanyi said.
Narrating the situation he said, “we were supposed to have conducted our town union election on December 31st but it was suspended because of irregularities that were discovered and they now told us that we should prepare and communicate to the commissioner when we are ready. While we were still trying to resolve the subsisting issue some moneybags went to Awka and brought a date, purporting that we have asked for a date to be fixed for the election through the caretaker committee”.
According to Ifeanyi, “when this letter was brought to the caretaker committee chairman, he dismissed it blatantly and said he never asked for election date. So they now told us that we had three days to prepare for the election,” he said.
The community held an emergency meeting under the auspices of OPC. Unanimously, the community mandated the caretaker committee to write to the government that we are not ready for the election.
On the 10th of January, Ernest Igboanugo also called the stakeholders to inform them that the government has mandated him to conduct the election and we also notified him that we were not ready yet as the outstanding issues have not been resolved. There was uproar. So he left and surprisingly he came the next day 11th as he promised and met people protesting on the election ground”.
What followed was a shocker, according to Mr. Ifeanyi. “The caretaker committee announced that day that there is no election and that people should go home and attend to their various business concerns and thereafter, he left. Three after, Ernest Igboanugo granted interview to ABS where he said he conducted a free and fair election in Oko”.
In effect, there was no election whatsoever, but there is new leadership for the community. “That is a rape on democracy”, Ifeanyi Asuzu declared.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the Anambra state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters; Greg Obi, to clarify allegations that the letters said to have come from the government mandating Oko community to conduct the election on three days’ notice, came from his office, was unfruitful as his response could not be secured at the time of this report.
While addressing the protesters, the Deputy Speaker thanked them for being law-abiding and assured them that the House will ensure that the right thing is done. “Thank you for being law-abiding. We shall carefully look into your complaint. Nobody has absolute power to do what he likes”, Rt. Hon. Pascal Agbodike said.