Abia LG election: Reflection on Dannie Ubani’s New Deal ~ By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu


Barring any unforeseen circumstance, few months from now, eletions will be conducted into chairmanship and councillorship positions in the 17 local government areas and 292 Abia State Independent Electoral Commission’s wards in Abia State.

Recently, the states electoral commission, ABSIEC, in an announcement fixed December 17,2016 for the local government elections. The announcement also directed all candidates of political parties intending to participate in the election have been asked to proceed to ABSIEC’s headquarters for collection of nomination forms not later than October 14.

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The announcement did not only exercise of the powers conferred on the commission by Part 11, Third Schedule, Section 4, Sub-section (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and pursuant to the Fifth Schedule, Section 160 of Abia State Local Government Law No. 9 of 2002 but elicited huge jubilation’s across party divides in the state.

The reasons for these jubilations are manifold: For over half a decade, the state has not experienced democratically- elected local government administrations. Successive local government administrations in Abia have been manned by caretaker committees- an experience that has constituted a clog in the wheel of progress of local government areas in Abia. Kudos for Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for daring odds to conduct local government election in the state!

Since the pronouncement by ABSIEC, it has been harvest of aspirations for either the chairmanship or councillorship positions. The number of party expression of interest and ABSIEC forms purchased for both categories of offices have run into hundreds with the windows still open for more purchases. Political parties in the state, especially the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are now smiling to the banks. PDP has gone a step further by offering incentives to the physically- challenged in the state who are willing to offer themselves for any of the positions to obtain the forms free-of- charge- a gesture both the umbrella body of the physically- challenged in the state and other individuals have highly commended.

The social media are now awash with pictures of aspirants flaunting their forms to mobilise support from the public. But amidst these jostling, something is missing: none to my knowledge have unveiled his programmes and the ideology driving his ambition. Majority of Nigerians will agree with me that lack of ideology and intellectual- content of governance is our bane.

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That is why i was enthralled when one Dannie Ubani who is aspiring for the chairmanship position of Isialangwa South Local Government Area unveiled his programmes and ideology his aspiration on the social media in a statement tagged” The New Deal” with a captivating and thought-provoking opening”It is with limitless sense of mission and limitless and responsibility that I, Comrade Ubani Dannie, an ordinary commoner like most of you, respond to your clarion calls of leading you out the despondency and near-depression of the present time. In responding to this very historic call to lead and serve and inspire you, I do it with a profound sense of history bearing in mind that the life of an average Isiala Ngwa South man is not any inch different or better than the life of an average American during the years of the Great Depression of 1930s when joblessness and hunger forced many American billionaires to commit suicide”.

 In Ubani’s new deal, the essence of the local government system as the third tier of government and the government nearest to the people, is substantially and aptly captured thus ” LOCALIZING THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BY TAKING IT BACK TO THE LOCAL PEOPLE. MAKING THE LOCAL GOVT SYSTEM TO RESPOND TO THE LOCAL NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE BY REVIVING AND SUSTAINING ALL THE STRUCTURES OF LOCAL ADMINISTRATION FOR EFFICIENT SERVICE DELIVERY”.

 Indeed,the essence of creating the local government system has been seriously eroded and defeated. The rural people who constitute over 80 percent of the population in any given society are now highly alienated from governance. The government is no longer nearer to the people due to the unconstitutional means through which the local government system is run. There is high and much pressure on the state government.

The local government, which is referred as the third tier of government in Nigeria, may be defined lowest level of government in a country established by law to ensure the effective and efficient administration of the localities or rural areas .The United Nations Department of Public Administration defines the local government as the political sub- division of a country which is designed by law and has substantial control of local affairs including power to impose levies and exact labour for prescribed purposes.

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The local government is an indispensable unit of the federation. It is the tier of government nearest to the people. Part II, section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended 2011) guarantees that the government state shall ensure the existence of local government under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.

The local government is created to bring government nearer to the people; serve as the medium to articulate and promote local interest; act as the instrument for political education; and promotion of rural development. Others are to mobilise and harness local resources; and to serve as link between the rural dwellers and other tiers of the government.

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The important  roles the local government plays in a system cannot be overemphasised. They  are divided into Mandatory, permissive and concurrent. The obligatory roles of the local government are those roles provided by Schedule IV of t Constitution. They are functions which the local government is bound to render to the people because  of its knowledge of the local problems.The obligatory roles include maintenance of rural roads, streets, and drainages; construction and maintenance of motor parks, public conveniences and cemeteries; provision of health facilities such as clinics, dispensaries and maternities.

Others are disposal of refuse;building of primary schools;collection of rates; radio and television licenses; licensing of bicycles, trucks, wheel barrows; naming of streets, roads and numbering of houses, registration of births, deaths and marriages; establishment and maintenace of recreational facilities; and regulation of outdoor advertisements,movement of domestic animals, shops and kiosks, restaurants and food and liquor renders.

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Because of this trend, the functions of the local government which directly affect the people the people are relegated to the background. The rural roads are in deplorable conditions. The health centres are almost in comatose state. The Agric Extension centres and officers which use to be are no where to be found these days. These and others are The New Deal Dannie Ubani is aspiring to offer in Isialangwa South Local Government Area.”Today, hunger has made war upon our lives. Our rural roads have been overgrown with weeds. All the structures of local administration has virtually collapsed. Our health centers are death zones. Our Agric Extension Centers exist and function only in our memories. Our traditional rulers are being disrespected and our traditional institutions violated. Our public works department only function as a conduit pipe for fraud. The LOCAL govt is no longer LOCAL as the officials are now demigods that are neither available nor approachable.

“Having been a part of you all my life, I feel your pulse; I share in your hunger. I am a part of your hunger and thirst for those good old days when LOCAL govt system was indeed local; when the system so worked that the fear of sanitary inspectors made everyone to keep his surroundings neat; when neighborhood watch worked; when public works department ensured that our local roads were regularly graded; when our minor and regular sicknesses were tackled by the experienced and dutiful health workers at the local health centers; when high teaching and moral standards were maintained in our primary schools by regular and unscheduled visits by school inspectors; when our people were rich and self-sufficient In food production through the services of Agric Extension Officers; when LOCAL govt chairmen were indeed LOCAL as they lived with the people, knew the needs of the people, and serve the needs of the people. Please, indulge a LOCAL boy his share of nostalgia”!

……By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu


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