FENRAD supports Abia elders, urges Ikpeazu to shelve planned council poll
* Calls for investigation of alleged mass looting of govt assets
By Steve Oko
A pro-democracy and environmental rights advocacy group, the Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), has supported the position of Abia State Elders Consultative Forum, urging Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu to shelve the proposed council poll less than two weeks before the expiration of his tenure.
FENRAD which expressed concern over the insistence of the out-going administration to hold the election advised that the funds for the poll be rather used to pay backlog of salary arrears of Abia workers.
The advice is coming on the heels of the altercation between the Archbishop Princewill Ariwodor-led Abia Elders Consultative Forum, and the State Government over the appropriateness of holding council poll at the twilight of the expiration of Ikpeazu’s tenure.
The elders had advised Ikpeazu to concern himself with other more important state matters instead of hurrying over the poll since there is a court injunction against the exercise to avoid plunging the state into an avoidable legal war.
FENRAD in a statement by its Executive Director, Comrade Nnanna Nwafor, said that it did not sound logical for the outgoing administration to prioritize council poll while workers and pensioners were owed for many months.
The rights group urged the Government to rather focus on peaceful transition instead of engaging in actions capable of triggering crisis in the state.
The statement made available to Wawa News Global read in part:”May 29 is two weeks away, and the team of the Governor-elect Dr. Alex Otti still cries out that the outgoing government has not availed it with any handover notes or briefs that will allow Governor-elect Dr. Alex Otti to hit the ground running when finally he assumes office.
” More horrible is the news about a would-be local government election to be conducted by the state electoral commission, ABSIEC. This is not being done in the interest of Ndị Abia.
“While FENRAD supports grassroots government and has remained steadfastly committed to the autonomy of all tiers of government, which guarantees fiscal federalism, the Foundation wonders why the state government did not allow the election to hold before this time.
“In less than one year, especially during the general elections, appointments had been made at the seventeen (17) LGAs in the state. FENRAD understands there is a court injunction restricting the said election. The Foundation calls on all parties to maintain status quo ante and not to resort to court disobedience in any way or manner.”
The rights group further expressed concern over the allegations of mass looting of Government property and Government’s apparent silence and inaction over the sad development.
“FENRAD is worried that allegation of looting of public properties in public institutions days to go of the current administration is making the rounds.
It demanded investigation into the allegations, insisting that those behind the criminal act must not be allowed to go free.
“Allegations keep coming from all quarters, even the grapevine, that in state-owned institutions like: School of Health Technology, Aba; Abia Nursing School, Amachara; Abia State Government House and elsewhere, equipment and facilities, including vehicles, bought with taxpayers’ money are allegedly being moved by workers and some other unnamed persons.
“This is a sad development that must not be allowed to stand. Any individual or group that loots assets acquired with state fund must be made to face the law; no two ways about that.”
FENRAD urged the out- going Gov. Ikpeazu “to look into all the concerns being raised by both political opposition and others and, see what can be done in ameliorating the situation where such concerns are proven as history, the immortal judge of all mankind, beckons”.
The rights group expressed concern over the indefinite strike by workers in the state, and appealed to Government to quickly address the demands of the workers.
It also noted with displeasure the opprobrium in the state House of Assembly following the impeachment and counter impeachment of the Speaker and his Deputy.
FENRAD particularly urged Ikpeazu to address the demands of Judiciary workers for the confirmation of the Acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Lilian Abai.
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