Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, Thursday declared the appointment of caretaker committees to run the affairs of local government areas was alien to the nation's constitution, urging the states that had embarked on such unconstitutional path to retrace their steps.
The governor flayed what he described as the interference by some states in the affairs of local government councils, noting that contrary to the views of some people, the autonomy of local government councils had been provided for in the constitution.
Chime, who was speaking during the commencement of the campaign for the local government elections by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, said it was unconstitutional for states to appoint caretaker committees for local governments or interfere with their funds.
He said the constitution provided for democratically-elected local government councils and as well as independent funding, expressing dismay that some states had contrary to these provisions, chosen to treat the councils as if they were mere departments of the state government.
"This is wrong and should be challenged. I urge serious-minded democrats in the country to challenge this practice in court. It is the only way to ensure democracy at the grassroots level," he said.
The governor further disclosed that the November 2 elections would be the fourth to be conducted by his administration since 2007 as it had made it a point of duty since inception, to ensure that the leadership of the councils was chosen by the people.
He added that the ruling PDP in the state had on its own adopted the policy of consultation and dialogue in its nomination of the candidates for the elections, stressing that the policy had ensured that the elections were always conducted under a peaceful atmosphere.
The governor noted that all the PDP candidates in all the 17 local government areas in the state were running unopposed as no other party presented candidates, adding that this was a testimony to the wide popularity of the party in the state.
He said: "We are not here today by coercion, we don't use force, we don't intimidate anyone and neither do we use thugs or any form of violence. This is what democracy is all about, this is what people have been trying to do all over the world but it is not easy."
Also in his speech, the National President of ALGON and Chairman of the Enugu South Local Government Council, Mr Nwabueze Okonkwo, debunked as mischievous and frivolous, comments attributed to him in a newspaper article, alleging that the government was tampering with local government funds.
"It is the handwork of mischief makers as everyone including my colleagues in other states have testified that Enugu is a model as far as local government administration is concerned. It should be on record that the greatest legacy that Chime will bequeath to Enugu State is a robust and functional local government system. Enugu is indeed number one in terms of disbursement of local government funds in the country".
The chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Vita Abba, disclosed that all the party primaries conducted towards the November elections, had been ratified by the national leadership of the party which also commended their peaceful conduct.
Highlight of the occasion, which was attended by thousands of party faithful and top party members, was the hand over of PDP flags to the 17 chairmanship candidates by the governor.