…as protesters declare: no local govt election, no gov election in Anambra
Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The Anambra State Government has described the joint protest embarked upon by tipper drivers, ex-councillors and a non-governmental organization known as Recover Nigeria Project, as a calculated attempt to breach the existing public peace in the state, instigate citizens against government as well as cause confusion and rancour.
The position of the state government on the said development was contained in a public service announcement signed by the state commissioner for information and public enlightenment Mr. C. Don Adinuba.
The statement disclosed that the said protest was politically motivated and allegedly sponsored by a desperate politician who was power-thirsty and was also determined to topple the present state government.
The public service announcement released by the commissioner reads: “The Anambra State Government is in possession of intelligence reports of the plan by some tipper drivers in the state to start a politically motivated action by blocking major roads and streets, ostensibly to ask for, among other things, an immediate election into local governments.
“The drivers are being manipulated by a desperate politician who cannot wait for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to lift the ban on the electioneering campaign for the office of the Governor of the State which will hold in November next year. He has been corrupting leaders of some factions of the tipper drivers union with filthy lucre.
“The politician seems too ignorant and desperate to know that the question of an election into local governments in the state is sub judice, that is, it is before the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Unable to accept the State Government’s victory on this matter at the Court of Appeal, a handful of opposition politicians escalated the litigation to the Supreme Court rather than accept the decision of the Court of Appeal in good faith and prepare for an election.
“Anambra has over the years remained Nigeria’s safest and most peaceful state, with a level of social harmony unknown in any other part of the country since the restoration of democratic rule. Any group of people who allow themselves to be used by a desperate politician to thwart the atmosphere of peace, harmony and solidarity will be made to feel the full weight of the law.
“All security agencies in the state have been directed to ensure that no illegal action capable of disturbing the public peace is allowed to take place. All our people are, therefore, enjoined to go about their normal business without fear.
“The State Government would like to use this opportunity to thank most members of the tipper drivers union for their loyalty to the people of Anambra State. We urge them to remain law abiding and patriotic.”
Meanwhile, the protesters led by Comrade Osita Obi, the convener of Recover Nigeria Project and Movement for Conduct of Local Government Elections in Anambra state, stormed the secretariat complex as well as state house of assembly complex Awka blocking the roads with tippers. They carried placards and chanted war songs signifying their disenchantments over the non-conduct of local government polls, exploitative taxations on tipper drivers and the non-payment of severance allowances to ex-elected councillors who claimed that some of their members have died out of frustration.
Obi said, “We are here at the state house of assembly to demand the conduct of local government elections in Anambra state, for them to pay the councillors and also look at the issue of tipper drivers. Government is extorting tipper drivers. They are taking N1,500 per trip of latrites and stones from tipper drivers.
“Peter Obi’s administration collected just N200 from them per day but Obiano’s administration is collecting N1,500 from them per trip every day.
“Eighty per cent of the revenues collected in this state goes to individual pockets. Tipper drivers said they will pay N10 million to state government every month but government is not forthcoming, instead they prefer to extort and exploit tipper drivers by collecting N1,500 for each trip.”
He said rather than take cognisance of the suggestions and recommendations of the tipper drivers, government embarked on arrest of members of Great Tipper Drivers’ Association and detained them in the prison custody.
According to him, “Local government election is a constitutional matter. It is a criminal denial for the state house of assembly and the executive arm not to conduct local government polls. What we are saying is no local government elections, no governorship elections in Anambra state.”