Concentrate on governors stealing LG funds,Gov Muftwang tells Nigerians

Governor Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State has advised those accusing state governors of stealing local government funds to be specific rather than make sweeping generalisations.

The Governor, who gave the advice while swearing in members of the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) on Monday, said that since he became governor, his administration has never touched local government funds.

“And I say, without fear of contradiction, that since our coming on board, we have not touched local government funds or misused them because we believe that the funds should be used to stabilize and enhance our acceptance of government.

“It therefore pains some of us when they make generalizations that governors are stealing local government money. I think they should be specific rather than make generalizations,” he said.

The governor, who said people should be able to hold the leadership of the electoral body responsible for whatever happens during and after the election, stated that members of the commission were carefully selected to replace those who were removed.

“The new chairman holds a key position in bringing integrity to the organization. And we are lucky to have found a man who has been in the electoral sector all his life and who has also held sway with integrity. He’s not too old; he’s not too young.

“We had to bring him out of hiding so that we don’t have the learning curve. And I’m glad that he accepted the assignment. On this commission are also people who have experience in electoral management. And overall, they are people who, I’m sure, are passionate about that policy.

“I am a firm believer in the effectiveness and efficacy of the local government system. I believe that the government must come closer to the people. And the only way we can get government and governance closer to the people is to allow the people themselves to elect those who they want to lead them.”

He added that the former members of the Commission were dissolved on sound legal footing, noting that PLASIEC, as it was then, was improperly constituted by an illegal speaker. There is a court judgment to that effect.

The Governor further explained that the speaker who confirmed their appointments was set aside by the court, and every action he took was nullified.

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“And in order not to be primitive and just wake up and announce dissolution, we took the matter to the House of Assembly. As you know, when we were sworn in on June 29, the House of Assembly still had almost a month left. So everything we did was processed through the House, legitimately.

“And so nobody should just accuse us of dissolving councils for the fun of it. As this PLASIEC settles in, I want to guarantee you that we are going to raise the bar in local government elections. We are going to ensure that democracy takes root. So, rest assured.

“I have warned my own party members: If you don’t do your own work, you’re on your own. But I believe that people deserve to choose who represents them. And therefore, members of PLASEC are coming in at a time when the Commission has a trust deficit. People no longer believe that state electoral commissions should exist. And they are even calling for them to be scrapped.”

The Governor, however, condemned the suggestion that the state electoral body should be scrapped, adding that, as much as the country is operating a federal system, not a unitary government, the State Electoral Commission is apt and necessary.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Daniel Cishak, thanked the governor for the appointments and promised to conduct credible elections.


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