Joe Effiong, Uyo
A local government chairman in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Israel Idaisin, has advised fellow grassroots politicians not to allow themselves to be manipulated by career civil servants into embezzling public funds.
Idaisin, who is the chairman of Ini LGA, said those who assume office without a fair experience on administration or public service easily fall prey in the hands of the career people deployed to the councils.
Speaking with the press in Uyo, the council boss who recently delivered 500 market stalls, motor park and 10 new buses to his LGA, cautioned local chairmen against career local government administrators who offer to help retire stolen funds.
Idaisin declared it unjust and an act of ignorance to negotiate to share a good part of the council’s income with those he described as ‘foreigners’, who would help to retire the money which would otherwise have been budgeted to be spent in the interest of the people who elected them to represent their interests.
‘You must have a little knowledge of administration before you take up a position of leadership, otherwise, you would have a lot of blunders to contend with because there are so many things that would come your way that you at least need that knowledge to guide you. Otherwise, you are going to fall prey in the hands of the career people that you are working with,’ the local government chairman said.
‘The career people: the Head of Personnel, Director of Finance and even Cashier believe they are the barracks and the politicians are the armies because you come, spend three or four years and leave the office, but they remain there for 30 years.
‘Sometimes you have the allocation of N10 to 30 million coming into your office, they say ok, we can help you retire this money without doing anything. Number one, you are doing injustice to yourself, your local government area and your people that voted you into power, because they believed in you before they voted you into office.
‘So, if you dance to the tune of some of the career people in the council, at the end of your tenure you may not gain anything.’
The Ini council boss drew the attention of the local chairmen to provisions made in the budget for donations and other packages.
‘If it is because of the money you give to people that would make you commit fraud, or steal your own money, put it in the budget. There is a provision for donations, Christmas packages and all of that for your communities.
‘During the time for preparation of the budget put those things in black and white. It’s not difficult. So that when people come for assistance, you ask them to apply for financial assistance; let us spend within the budget so that we use that to retire the money.
‘Set your priorities right so that you would be handy with things to do whenever you are called upon by the budget department,’ he advised
Idaisin, who also stressed the importance of LG chairmen attending seminars and other training courses, noted that such training would help as they provide the opportunity for council leaders to draw from the wealth of experiences of seasoned administrators on how to operate with career civil servants without a fight
He regretted that some council chairmen do not appreciate the need for self-development for better service delivery, and may end up allowing themselves to be manipulated by ill-minded career civil servants in some councils.
‘Many forget that they will someday leave the office, so they keep sitting down to negotiate how to get away with their own monies and at the end of the day they have nothing to show. If you operate that way, your people would have nothing to remember you for, even in a village council meeting. If you perform well, you would leave a legacy to be remembered for,’ Idaisin said.