From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Anambra Governor Prof Charles Soludo has inaugurated a nine-member committee for the State-Local Government Joint Account.
The governor inaugurated the committee shortly after the State executive council meeting, at the Government House, Awka.
Members of the committee include the Commissioner for Local Government, Mr Collins Nwabunwanne appointed to serve as the committee Chairman; Commissioner for Finance, Mr Ifeatu Onejeme, Vice Chairman and Dr Leopold Nwankwo-Ikwueto, Secretary.
Other members include Barr Ifeatu Obiokoye, member representing Central senatorial zone; Dr Nnamdi Nwadiogbu, member representing North senatorial zone; Sir Van Ezeogudi, member representing South senatorial zone; Dr Chibuike Ofobuike, member and Transition Committee Chairman representing South zone.
Also appointed are Mrs Amaka Obi, member and Transition Committee Chairman, representing Central zone, and Mr Livinus Onyenwe, member and Transition Committee Chairman representing North zone.
Speaking shortly after performing the inauguration, Governor Soludo appreciated them for accepting to serve even for coming to serve in some very difficult circumstances.
“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 a lot of hard work. Why do I say that? It is 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 have been called upon to find the solution.
“We are going to be employing over four thousand teachers, it will be charged to JAAC.
“Meanwhile, you have over N14 billion 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 said.
He further explained that the local system is largely two-fold including its financing and its administration.
“We are going to set up the local government administration. That’s definite. But the administration of the local government is a bit of a challenge. The infrastructure in the various local governments including the ones that have been burnt down needs to be repaired as well as considering the workload. Even staff don’t go to work in the local government areas. But we must eventually get the services down to the people.
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“For us, we have the vision to have responsibility devolve to base and to have a local government that is empowered from the base, to deliver development to the grassroots. 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, ” he said.
On local government autonomy, Professor Soludo said: “I hear people talk about autonomy. If you want to implement strict autonomy, it will mean that each local government will employ and pay its staff. That’s what it will 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.”
Governor Soludo also took time to explain that resources accruable to the state government areas from the federal were low because of NNPC’s inability to remit any money to the federation account, which he noted they might not do again since it had become a limited liability company. He emphasized that there should be some sort of competitive system in place for the various local government areas.
“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 leeway to raise their own revenues,” he said.
“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.
Regarding the management of the JAAC, the governor said a lot of things would be done differently after a careful thought process, especially in terms of financing options.
“Some have got some assets that they can charge. Some have shops that they can ‘premise’ while some run mass transit systems 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,” the governor further added.
Earlier, while presenting the committee members for the inauguration, Mr Nwabunwanne described them as competent to deliver on the mandate.
In a vote of thanks, Mr Onyenwe, who spoke on behalf of other members of the committee, thanked the governor for finding them worthy to serve in that capacity, pledging to work round the clock to efficiently deliver service to the Anambra people.
Secretary to the State Government Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, Chief of Staff to the Governor Mr Ernest Ezeajughi, Head of Service Barrister Theodora Igwegbe, Commissioner for Finance Mr Ifeatu Onejeme, Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government Affairs Mr Asha Nnabuife, among others, were present at the event.