Local government chairmen in Akwa Ibom State have ignored the resolution passed by the immediate past House of Assembly for them to relocate to the security villages in their domains so as to be closer to the grassroots.
Recall that the House, under the speakership of Mr. Onofiok Luke, had passed a resolution mandating the council chairmen to relocate to the security villages.
But several years after, investigation revealed that the chairmen are yet to comply with the directives as some estates have been allowed to rot away while others have become a rendezvous for hoodlums.
The Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Local Government, Hon. Mark Esset, speaking with journalists in Uyo, the state capital, on Tuesday hinted that plan is underway by his committee to embark on a quarterly visit to councils to ascertain the level of compliance.
It was however gathered that over 98 percent of council chairmen operate from Uyo while others operate from their personal houses built outside the local government headquarters, thereby promoting absenteeism in office.
According to Esset, “You should recall that the sixth Assembly had passed a resolution, mandating Local Government Councils Chiefs and other key officers to relocate to the security villages to be closer to the people.
“Unfortunately, the council chairmen have refused to abide by the resolution. But my committee has planned to embark on a quarterly visit to councils to ascertain performance and state of security villages across the State and to check defaulters.”
However, the security villages built by the Akwa Ibom government as residential quarters for top security personnel and senior officials of the 31 Local Government Councils in the state, was to compliment the “Housing for All” policy of former Governor Godswill Akpabio administration in the state, under the Local Government Administration Law in his first term.
The estates, made up of several detached bungalows with sporting and recreational facilities, were meant to accommodate the council chairmen, secretaries, heads of personnel and Heads of the different security agencies in each of the council headquarters.
A tour by the Correspondents’ Chapel of NUJ, Akwa Ibom State, to some estates showed that, the security village of Uyo has been converted into an orphanage; that of Eket has been allocated to the Army for accommodation.
That of Ikot Ekpene has no council officials living in them, while others located in rural parts of the state have also been hampered by their remote location, making it unattractive to the senior council officials thereby becoming a hideout for criminals.
Meanwhile, some of the council chairmen, when contacted said they live and go to work from the facilities.
Hon. Aniekpon Ekpo, Chairman, Mkpat Enin LGA said, “I am living in the security estate in my local government, and this has afforded me opportunity to acquaint myself with the challenges of the area and people.
“I implore others to do so to reduce the rural-urban drift.”
The Chairman, Ini LGA, Mr Israel Idaisin, disclosed that the 100 units estate in his domain have been leased to private school operators as polytechnic in order to wash off criminal elements, who have occupied the facility for unwholesome activities.