Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Delta Council Chairman, Pressured To Share Allocations, Threatens Resignation
Goodluck Idele, the recently sworn-in caretaker committee chairman of Isoko South local government area of Delta State, has threatened to resign in the face of mounting demands by political figures in the area that he offer them huge slices of the council’s monthly revenue allocations.
“Mr. Goodluck Idele has been passing through a perilous time in the past two months because of pressure by some political leaders from the area who insist he should share the council’s allocation with them,” said a source who is close to the chairman. Oil-rich Delta State is notorious for unabated corrupt practices that have undermined economic development and jeopardized programs to alleviate the suffering of millions of residents.
One of our sources lamented that the local council chief was troubled by persistent demands by so-called stakeholders that developmental initiatives be stalled or stopped so that budgetary allocations may be distributed among prominent politicians.
“Barely two months after the council chairman was appointed, some of our Isoko South political leaders mounted undue pressure on him before Christmas to release their own share of the council’s allocation,” said the source. He added: “The council chairman has made it clear that, should the undue pressure continue, he will have no other option than to resign and return to his base in Lagos.”
Several sources portrayed the embattled council chairman as an outsider who is not known to be, in the words of one person, “a real politician.” The sources disclosed that certain political players close to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan had nominated Mr. Idele for the chairmanship.
Among those players, according to our sources, were Johnson Erijo, a member of the state assembly representing Isoko South 11, and Askia Ogieh, a former chairman of the council. SaharaReporters learnt that the players also arranged the appointment of Fineboy Dickson as Mr. Idele’s vice. “Initially, it was Askia that was scheming for the position of chairman, but the majority of the Isoko populace rose against him,” said one source. “As a means of compensation, he was asked to nominate someone and he brought forward Mr. Idele.”
A source close to Mr. Idele revealed that the area’s political leaders approached the caretaker chairman just before Christmas and asked for huge handouts. When the chairman stated that his priority was council staff welfare, one of the “prominent politicians” told him that it was a tradition to release the council’s allocation for sharing among political leaders. “They told him that anybody selected to run the council must follow the tradition of sharing money,” said a source.
Instead of acceding to the arrangement, the current council boss threatened to resign. Ignoring the party officials’ instructions, Mr. Idele went ahead to pay two months salaries to council workers to enable them to celebrate the Christmas holiday with their families.
SaharaReporters learnt that some of those pressuring Mr. Idele for cash are politicians from the area who occupy offices in both the state and federal governments. But the council’s immediate past boss, Askia Ogieh, was described as the most desperate. Two sources described Mr. Ogieh as broke and indebted to several people.
Contacted by a reporter, Mr. Idele denied the report of being under pressure to fritter away council funds in cash gifts to a few greedy politicians. He added that he was not permitted to speak to the press unless the state governor, Mr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, gave him permission to do so. “As a public figure you need to be more careful. If you are elected you speak on behalf of the people but as an appointee you don’t speak the way you like. Nothing of such [pressure to share cash] is to my notice.”
Asked if Governor Uduaghan had delivered on a promise to release accrued withheld allocations to the councils, Mr. Idele said he was not in position to speak on the issue. However, he complained of meager allocations coming to the councils.
On Monday, the House of Representatives accused Nigerian state governors of cornering funds meant for the development of local government areas, insisting that only autonomy for both state assemblies and local governments would save Nigeria from the thieving state chief executives.