By Ndiana Ekpenyong|

The Special Adviser Bureau of Political/Legislative Affairs Akwa Ibom State has advocated on the need for equal treatment of both former elected and appointed Chairmen of Local Government Areas in the State.

Barr. Ekong Sampson who made this known in his office when members of forum of Former Appointed Chairmen of Local Government in Akwa Ibom State paid him visit said, “There should be no dichotomy because Chairman is Chairman. What I faced as an appointed Chairman were the same challenges I faced as elected Chairman. The challenges are similar. In fact the challenges are even more for an appointed Chairman. As an appointed chairman, you faced even weightier challenges than an elected chairman. So I can understand what you have gone through, the weight of your challenges and pressure from constituents”.

The Special Adviser identified with the forum as one time appointed chairman of Mkpat Enin Local Government and promised to use his office as Special Adviser to ensure members of the group are rewarded for their service to their fatherland.

According to him, “I am a member of this forum because in June 2003, I was sworn-in as chairman of Transition Committee, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area. I serve as the Chairman of Local Government two times; firstly Chairman of Transition Committee and later as elected Chairman.  Believe me to say that with my appointment I am going to act as a bridge between this Forum and the State Government because I understand the gamut of your problem. I have sat on that seat and what you faced I also faced. But I thank God that you served and you left, and you are still alive. Once there is life there is hope”.

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He lauded the forum for passing vote of confidence on Governor Udom Emmanuel and adopting him for second time. He described Governor Udom Emmanuel as a man with vision and foresight, whose plans and programmes require more than four years to bear fruits for the State.

“I want to thank you supporting our dear Governor for re-election. What you have done signpost the yearning of larger segment of our peoples’ opinion which is that Governor Udom desires re-election. Why does the Governor need to be re-elected, simply that if you look at the expansive road maps that he has for Akwa Ibom State, he need eight years to fully implement that road map. We cannot fully industrialize in a short time. So in eight years Udom would have done very well in laying a solid foundation for the State.

“As you can see, Governor Udom Emmanuel is laying solid foundation in this State, especially in diversifying the flanks of economy. The challenge that our nation faced is because we depended solely in crude. By diversifying into other flanks, he is laying a solid foundation for tomorrow. Politically, the governor is putting in place a strong mechanism for reconciliation so that we can come together and work as a family. PDP is a mega party, it is a larger umbrella and our Governor is committed to bringing everybody into that umbrella”, he said.

The Special Adviser, Bureau of Political/Legislative Affairs and Water Resources charged members of the forum to remain united, focus in their resolve and line up behind the Governor as the leader of the State, adding “Where Udom goes is where we will go, where Udom stands is where we will stand because he knows what is good for Akwa Ibom State”.

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He commended the Chairman of the Forum, Obonganwan Lovina Umoh Effah, describing her as a committed, loyal and hardworking politician, who is faithful to the course of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State.

Earlier, the Chairman of Forum, Obonganwan Lovina Umoh Effah had explained that the former Council chairmen have decided to come together as a forum in order to contribute their quota in the development of the State.

“We are former appointed Chairmen of Council in Akw Ibom State who have come together to collectively work to contribute our quota to the development of our State, the government and its programmes so as to promote peace, and good governance. We also educate the grassroots populace in our constituencies about the programmes of government, exposing its benefits to them with ultimate aim of mobilizing support for our great party; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the government…” she explained.

Obonganwan Effah said the forum was concerned with the dichotomy in the treatment of former elected Local Government Chairmen and those that were appointed. She pleaded the Special Adviser to use his office to ensure proper recognition of former appointed Chairmen of Local Government Council in the State.

According to her, “Permit me to mention the major challenge of this Forum. It is the issue of dichotomy between the elected and appointed chairmen. It is often said, once a chairman, remains a chairman. It is worthy of note that both the appointed and elected chairmen went through the same joint accounts. The appointed chairmen conduct election for the elected chairmen, and still contribute to the development of their councils. We constitute seventy five percent of total number of Chairmen of Council in the State, yet the stipends given to the Chairmen by Governor does not extend to our members, reason is that we were appointed chairmen.

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“We humbly plead with you as the Special Adviser Bureau of Political/Legislative Affairs to solicit the Governor to see reason for proper and equal recognition of both Appointed and elected chairmen of Local Government Areas in a way of extending the stipend given to the elected Chairmen to the appointed Chairmen and also consider us in subsequent appointments just as it is done at the national and State levels for both past Head of States and Governors. They enjoy the same benefits”, she said.

Highpoint of the meeting was honouring of the Special Adviser Bureau of Political/Legislative Affairs as their Patron of Forum of Former Appointed Chairmen of Local Government Areas in the State.

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