Rivers State says it is determined to turn the local councils into spring boards of infrastructural provision, investment and human capital development by spurring the elected council chairmen into competitive action, accountability and performance.
In doing this, the state has always secured support from international development agencies and countries, with the Netherlands taking upper-hand in 2012.
For this, the state, through the Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) and Ministry of Local Government in 2008 initiated what is now known as the annual Excellency in Local Government Initiative (ELGI) where councils are subjected to strict verification by external experts mostly university professors from other parts of the country on about 12 areas of development.
Okrika Local Government Council shone brightly Tuesday night at the Rivers State House of Assembly and carted away an 18-seater bus. The chairman, Tamuno William, stood tall in a heavily crowded auditorium to explain the rough road to victory.
Oyigbo Local Council headed by Felix Nweke, came second in the estimation of the panel led by a University of Ibadan professor and got 10 special purpose computers. Ogu/Bolu run by the only female council boss, Maureen Tamuno, took the third position along with five special computers.
The executive director/chief executive of RSSDA, Noble Pepple, said the areas that would push ahead the rural economy of the state include sustainable rural infrastructure category, resources mobilisation and utilisation, rural electrification, agricultural investment, internally generated revenue (IGR), local government management/administration, Information and Computer Technology (ICT), socio-economic and poverty reduction, local content initiatives, peace and security, health, and culture/tourism.
The ambassador of the kingdom of Netherlands, Bert Ronharr, told the crowded audience that without accountability and transparency, no economy would move ahead. The ambassador described Rivers as a unique state and promised to report the progress made in rural economic development to his home country. The Netherlands are partnering with RSSDA in cassava development and marketing schemes through the DATCA-led Cassava Initiative.
Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who won repeated applause during the occasion said only through independent assessment would the awards scheme deliver the desired impact, that of spurring the councils to more action.