• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Rivers council chairpersons accuse Fubara of withholding LGAs funds

Rivers opens for business as economic summit begins

The Rivers State chapter of the Association of Local Government Areas of Nigeria (ALGON) has accused Siminalayi Fubara, the state governor, of withholding the funds for local government areas (LGAs) since April 2024.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Allwell Ihunda, ALGON’s chairman in Rivers, stated that Fubara has not convened the joint account allocation committee meeting required for disbursing funds to the LGAs.

Ihunda, also the chairman of Port Harcourt LGA, mentioned that the governor’s actions have deprived the local government level of necessary funds for operation.

He said, “It has come to the notice of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Rivers State chapter, that the Rivers state government, under the leadership of His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has neglected, failed, and deliberately refused to hold the statutory joint account allocation committee meeting, which is the prerequisite for the disbursement of funds due to the local government in the state joint local government accounts.

“He has continued to withhold the statutory allocations due to the 23 local government councils of Rivers state since April 2024 and in the case of Emuoha LGA since March 2024 till date for no just course, thereby starving the third tier of the government of the funds required to discharge its statutory functions in the administration of the local government areas.”

Ihunda reported that Fubara met with LGA administration heads and treasurers, instructing them to prepare salary vouchers for civil servants, but not including chairpersons, vice chairpersons, and councillors.

The governor’s actions, according to Ihunda, are an attempt to access LGA funds directly to pay salaries, bypassing elected local government officials.

Ihunda criticised Fubara’s recent remarks about the non-existence of the house of assembly, suggesting a regression to autocratic governance.

He called on President Bola Tinubu to address the situation with Fubara.

The press briefing statement received support from 21 LGA chairpersons in the state.

Fubara and Nyesom Wike, the former governor and current minister of federal capital territory (FCT), have been in conflict over the state’s political leadership.

The relationship between Fubara and the state assembly, which consists of Wike’s supporters, is strained.

In April, the assembly enacted the local government amendment bill, despite Fubara’s refusal to assent.

The amendment allows the assembly to extend the tenure of LGA chairpersons and councillors through a resolution if elections cannot be held before their term ends.

The Rivers assembly claims the amendment aims to facilitate LGA elections before the current administration’s term concludes.

On April 16, the Rivers high court issued an interim order to the assembly to halt actions on extending LGA officials’ tenure.

This order was a response to a lawsuit by Enyiada Cooky-Gam, Opobo-Nkoro LGA’s executive chairman, and eight other council officials.

Nevertheless, the assembly proceeded to pass the amendment bill into law.