The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has faulted the choice of the state Governor, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi to set up Caretaker Committees (CTCs) to replace out-going local government council chairmen instead of holding elections.
The party, in a statement signed by Jerry Needam, Special Adviser, Media to the state party Chairman, Mr. Felix Obuah, described the action as unconstitutional, stating that the only rationale for Amaechi’s choice of a CTC over outright council election was the fear of losing to the PDP.
The statement also queried the essence of setting up and sustaining the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) when the body could not be allowed to perform its statutory function.
The PDP also accused the former council chairmen of financial impropriety and running their councils aground, adding: “It is not enough to sack them. They should be made to give account of how they spent the huge resources allocated to them in the past three years for development purposes without any visible evidence of the expected investments in any of the councils.”
The party also recalled allegations of financial donations and illegal contributions by the council chairmen to Amaechi’s wife purportedly to aid her pet project, the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI), stating that neither Amaechi nor his wife, Judith, has denied the allegations till date.
“To prove his persistent claim of running a transparent government, the PDP therefore wants Amaechi to as a matter of urgent public interest, initiate probe into these serious and other sundry allegations of misappropriation of council funds against these out-going council chairmen,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed chairman of the caretaker committee for Obio/Akpor local government council, Dr. Lawrence Chuku, yesterday had to break open the door to the office of his predecessor, Mr. Timothy Nsirim, to assume office at the headquarters of the council, in Rumuodomaya.
THISDAY gathered that as early as 6a.m., supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had gathered at the secretariat thinking that members of the PDP or Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) would attempt to disrupt the assumption of office of the caretaker committee announced by Amaechi.
But that was not to be as nobody tried to disrupt the ceremony and shortly after swearing-in other members of the committee and principal officers, Chuku accompanied by his officers, supervised the breaking of the former chairman's office at about 10:02 am.
He had earlier, during his address, announced the immediate dissolution of all committees and task force in the council.
“By the powers vested on me as chairman of the caretaker committee, I dissolve all revenue bodies,” he announced.
During his address before supporters of the APC, Chuku, who was among the 21 caretaker committee chairmen sworn-in at the weeken Amaechi, charged the council officials to see their appointment as service to Obio/Akpor people and not to enrich themselves.
He declared that the council had returned to its owners, and had ceased to be a private affair, urging his committee members not to betray the confidence reposed on them by Amaechi.
According to him, “Today, Obio/Akpor has returned to the owners. Today, the rightful owners of Obio/Akpor have taken over what belongs to them. From today, it ceases to be a private affair.
"The people of Obio/Akpor have always stood by Governor Chibuike Amaechi and will always stand by him. You are not appointed to serve yourselves. I was not appointed to serve myself. We were appointed to serve the people. We must prove that we will not disappoint the governor.”
In his speech at the council secretariat, Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Tony Okocha, described the appointment of caretaker committee in Obio/Akpor, as a dawn of new era.
Okocha stated that the appointment was not borne out of accident, but out of scrutinised pedigree, stating that the council would no longer be seen as a dynasty.
“I want to give you (chairman) two charges. Obio/Akpor must be given back to God. You should see yourself as a servant of the people and not a leader,” Okocha said.