The 17 Transition Committee Chairmen of Abia State sworn-in by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on Wednesday have received their seal of office, just as tension continues to mount in Aba South Local Government Council over the appointment of non-indigene, Dr NCNC Okoli as TC chairman.
Some aggrieved Ngwa elements in Aba had prior to the swearing-in of the TC chairmen dropped a coffin at the entrance of the Aba South local government council, in protest to the Governor’s decision to appointment Dr Okoli (Macro), an indigene of Anambra state as the TC chairman.
Though Dr Okoli has been sworn-in by Dr Ikpeazu, he still finds it difficult to operate from the council headquarters like his mates due to the activities of the Ngwa elements in Aba south.
News Critic reports that Aba South remains the most vibrant LGA in Abia state today and it is populated by non-indigenes, especially businessmen of Anambra and Imo states origin. The newly appointed TC Chairman, Dr Okoli was elected as executive chairman of the LGA during Chief Orji Kalu’s tenure and he served for two years before his tenure expires. Since then, he has been in and out of the local government system in spite of his Anambra state origin.
This time, he was among those appointed by Ikpeazu prior to the 2019 General Election, but after the election the governor dissolved the TC Chairmen in a move that surprised political watchers. However, it came as a surprise when Governor Ikpeazu in his magnanimity reappointed them last week.
During their swearing-in ceremony at the Michael Okpara auditorium, Ikpeazu said their reappointment was not based on the grounds that they are the only qualified candidate for the job, but because of their previous works the government decided to reappoint them, adding that they are expected to correct the mistakes of the past and face governance now that electioneering is over.
Ikpeazu also charged them to work for the people in peace and harmony, and to carry the stakeholders along and not to see the appointment as opportunity for them and their families to line their pockets. He declared that his government has zero tolerance for corruption, while he charged them to compliment the efforts of the state government in bringing democratic dividends to the people. Also sworn-in is the commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, who in his remarks thanks the governor for appointing them to serve, promising not to disappoint.
News Critic gathered that the protest by some Ngwa elements against the appointment of Dr Okoli as chairman of Aba South council may not be unconnected to the new federal government policy of paying LGA allocation direct into their accounts bypassing the state/Local government Joint account system.
Sources within the local government administrative system disclosed to our reporter that for the first time about N300 million was paid into the account of Aba South, as its monthly allocation, a development that is generating a lot of anxiety among the natives. They feel short-changed that a non-indigene is the one going to preside over their affairs now and the disbursement of the funds.
This newspaper also gathered that local government councils like Ikwuano and Umuahia North got over N150 million allocation paid direct into its accounts by the federal government.
One of the residents of Aba, and a top politician who spoke under the condition of anonymity said that the newly appointed transition chairman for Aba south, Okoli has worked hard for the advancement of Abia state and Aba south LGA. He said Okoli, abandoned his medical line for politics, and has been a good politician who has risked his life for the success of PDP in the state.
‘’So they have seen that a lot of money has come into the coffers of the local government and they started grumbling, and suddenly realised he is not a son of the soil’’. Concerned Aba South residents who spoke to our reporter on the development, said Abia state has grown beyond such sentiments some Ngwa elements want to promote. They wondered whether the governor that appointed him is not one of them any longer.
On the coffin they used to block the entrance to the local government, one resident described it as a mere show that has no bearing or effect. Close confidants of the chairman said that Okoli has been sworn-in and handed over the Seal, adding that there is nothing any one could do about it. He said the chairman could operate from any location for now, pending when the issue is amicably resolved.