Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has passed a resolution authorizing Governor Udom Emmanuel to constitute a transition committee to oversee affairs at the 31 local government councils to oversee affairs at the local government councils for a period not exceeding 6 months pending the conduct of election into the local government councils in the state.
The House passed the resolution on Friday following the receipt of a message addressed to the Speaker and members of the House, seeking their authorization to enable the governor constitute a transition committee that would administer the councils for the period until November when elected officials are expected to take over the councils.
It would be recalled that Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission, AKISIEC, recently issued a notice stating its readiness to conduct local government election in the state by November this year. The Commission met with representatives of political parties where an agreement was reached on the matter.
Leading debate on the governor’s message, the House Leader, Rt. Hon. Sir. Udo Kierian Akpan, urged his colleagues to approve the request, saying the executive has shown genuine commitment in the conduct of local government election.
He recalled that the legislature had in the past deliberated on the issue of Transition Committees, where it was resolved that the state should hold local government election to pave way for the emergence of democratically elected officials at the third tier of government.
“I want to draw your attention to fact that last time we had talked about local government transition committee…. We had unanimously agreed that the state should conduct local government election in line with the constitution.
I believe that election is a process not an event. AKISIEC has started the process. Locao govern election has been fixed by AKISIEC for the 11th of November. In a democratic dispensation the best thing to do is to avoid Transition Committee. There is need for us key into the section of the law that allows for filling of the vacuum.
Now that there is a genuine commitment by the executive to conduct local government election i would suggest and want my colleagues members to support governor’s request”.
Also contributing, the member representing Abak State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Friday Iwok, appreciated governor Udom Emmanuel for sen the request.
“Let me appreciate His Excellency for sending this request. It is important that local government election be conducted. Iam happy that Akwa Ibom is going into full blown democracy as we are about to conduct local government election.
This will go a long way to assuage the agitation by people who have been clamouring for the conduct of the local government election”.
Member representing ITU State Constituency, Hon. Idongesit Ituen, described the local government system as one tier of government that is closest to the grassroot. He commended the governor for agreeing with the House of Assembly on the need to allow democratically elected representatives of the people to run affairs at the third tier of government.
“The local government is the closest to the people. Iam today happy that the governor has agreed with us that there is need to conduct local government election.
The Transition Committee will prepare the ground for smooth conduct of the election. On this note, i want to authorize that we allow His Excellency to set up a transition committee to mid-wife the process of local government election “.
On his part the member representing Ibesikpo-Asutan said” From the day day we heard that AKISIEC had released time table, there has been jubilation in the air. I want to commend governor Udom for putting necessary machinery in place to conduct local election “.
Hon. Nse Ntuen of Essien Udim State constituency, said” An elected local government Chairman is accountable to the people. When you are appointed, you are not answerable to the people. I want to appeal to my colleagues to see reasons to support the extension of tenure of Transition Committees”.
In his argument, the lawmaker representing Esit-Eket /Ibeno state constituency, Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh, reasoned that since the state electoral body, AKISIEC, has demonstrated seriousness to conduct the election he was in support of the constitution of a transition committee to midwife the transition process in the respective local government councils.
In his remarks, Speaker, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke, advised the incoming Transition Committee members to conduct themselves in accordance with the law, and cautioned against acts of insubordination.
He commended the governor for his commitment at instituting democratic leadership at the third tier of government.
“I appreciate Governor Udom Emmanuel towards his commitment at helping to institute democratic leadership at the third tier of government. It is the responsibility of the local government councils to at least keep their surrounding clean”.
Barr. Luke thereafter read a letter dated 28th June, and addressed to him and the House Members by the Chairman of AKISIEC, Mrs. Gloria Ukpong, saluting the 6th assembly for its legislative strides in institutionalizing democracy at the third tier of government. The Commission formally informed the lawmakers of its readiness to conduct election into the local government councils, hinting that the decision was reached after a meeting with representatives of political parties in the state.
The Speaker directed the Clerk of the House to communicate the resolution of the House to appropriate authority, and also asked the Chairman of the House Committee on Intergovernmental affairs to proceed on its oversight function by engaging the electoral Commission.