Governor Alex Otti has chosen a name for the incoming headship of the Local Government administration. He called them MAYORS and then leaked part of the profile of the expected MAYORS. Recent administrations in Abia State called them Transition Council Chairmen (TC Chairmen) but the governor has decided to rebrand them. Not only in name but also in profiling and symbolism.
Remember that Governor Otti is a change maker and his administration is a total departure from the past. Remember that there is a new Abia and “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. Remember that I have called on Abians to adjust, adapt and embrace the change movement. Thus, our Governor is bent on creating a new LGA system that is distinct in orientation and outlook. This is a major policy thrust and the change of name is an early signal.
The Governor leaked the face of the new LG system and the personality of the expected mayors during his recent interaction with members of the Aba Sports Club. They are going to be men of means; distinguished men of repute; men who have a name to protect. Not necessarily billionaires as being bandied by the opposition but men who have crossed certain levels and reached a certain plateau on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
If I read the mind of Governor Otti accurately, I am sure he is looking at an independent LG system that can deliver, that can effectively serve the grassroots catchment without undue interference. It does appear to me that our Governor intends to divest powers and grant autonomy to the third tier of democratic administration. This, indeed, is the most critical tier of government as it relates directly to the people, the grassroots. The failure of many governments or the disconnect between the people and the government is inexorably linked to the failure or improper handling of the Local Government Administration in Nigeria. Governor Otti, therefore, wants the allocation meant for the LG to be managed by the LG officers and be properly utilized to develop the grassroots areas.
By planning to appoint men of good standing as mayors of the LGAs, the Governor, it seems to me, wants to relieve himself of some burdens of grassroots needs so he can concentrate on the strategies and actions for meaningful development of the state. Therefore, his Mayors must be men who have outstanding records of managing men and resources; men who have the pedigree of creative thinking that has led to the success of businesses; and not starters who will be overexcited with their first encounter with huge funds and get carried away in the process. He does not want a repeat performance of the experience where appointees suddenly assume that their time to amass weight has come. The much-expected dream of a new life of luxury and chivalry has finally come true.
Perhaps, Governor Otti wants to change the narrative where the appointment of the headship of the critical third tier amounts to an opportunity to build new houses, buy new cars, conquer our women and take up permanent suites in downtown cozy hotels. This trend has been the norm in Abia. Otti’s Mayors might be men who have conquered part of life and have reached certain levels of self-actualization that their major drive and persuasion will be service to the people. Remember it is a new Abia!
There is a meditated intention by the Governor to take off the demands for construction of rural markets, construction of rural roads, maternities and health centres from his head. There is an intention to delegate or assign critical functions like youth development, community administration, community security, and rural infrastructural development to the headship of a reliable LG administration. The Governor wants to install an active and working system. He wants the LGAs to run on their own with high performing indexes so that there will be a holistic development of the state.
Indeed, this is certainly a new thinking and a new approach of doing state business in Abia. In the past, the TC Chairmen and their deputies were platforms for political patronage and political reward. It was the platform for servicing cronies. There was a time in the history of Abia when two illiterate market women were appointed TC Chairmen for Osisioma and Isiala Ngwa South Local governments. Immature youths with the exuberances of adolescence have been handed the destiny of the grassroots people in the history of Abia. The federal allocation for the LGAs is consistently a cash cow for the state Governors and the cause of serial internal wars. I must say, without mincing words, that the failure of successive administrations in Abia is linked to the improper handling of the critical third tier.
From every indication, it does appear that Governor Otti wants to cause a total rebranding of the LGA administration in Abia both in process and procedures. I am preempting that he intends to reposition the LG as a powerful democratic organ for effective service to the people away from the old norm of sharing formula. I do assert that if he succeeds in overhauling this system and properly refocusing the LG administration, he would have solved half of his challenges as a Governor and be ready for the crown of victory.
As we wait, in bated breath, for the list of the mayors, we hope that the list will gratify our expectations and be another signpost to where Otti is headed. And, in his own words: “When we are done! When we are done! When we are done!”
Godwin Adindu, a Media Consultant, writes from Umuahia.