Peoples Democratic Party , PDP, in Ekiti State has cried foul over a planned public hearing on the financed of local governments in the state by the state’s House of Assembly and described the step as a “witch hunt and intimidation.”
The Ekiti State House of Assembly had issued a public service announcement through which it invited the general public to a hearing on the finances of the local governments in the last one year.
The hearing is scheduled for today, Tuesday (December 11) at the Ekiti State House of Assembly Complex in Ado Ekiti.
In his reacting to the planned public hearing, the chairman, PDP in Ekiti State, Chief Gboyega Oguntuwase, said the grounds for such probe had not been established by the state lawmakers, nothing that there was no basis for the public hearing.
Oguntuwase, in a telephone conversation said: “If the essence of their public sitting is holy and it is not an attempt to subdue and intimidate the council chairmen and work towards an end, they ordinarily should have met the condition precedent.
“Firstly, they cannot bring unaudited account to any public hearing. If it is unaudited, it becomes unacceptable. We are not against accountability, but accountability must be sought with very clean hands.
“Secondly, the House of Assembly had earlier said that they would visit all the local governments to carry out investigations and verifications. This has not been done. And none of the council chairmen has been asked questions based on the summary earlier presented to the Assembly. All these rush, rush attitude shows that they are working towards a premeditated end.
“We are not saying that people should not be accountable but the totality of the scenarios, with an APC Speaker, APC Leader of the House with all the three principal officers of the House being APC, they may sidetrack other members and there would not be justice.”
Oguntuwase alleged that it was “a systematic attempt to strangulated the local government in Ekiti,” alleging that “for the past few months, no kobo has been remitted to the local governments, thereby making it impossible to run the nearest unit of government to the ordinary man in Ekiti.”
One of the 16 local government chairmen, who doesn’t want to be named said they had been asked to present a stewardship account earlier than the usual 12 months, saying “we normally carry out every 12 years. But they asked for nine months. Then they said they want to conduct a public hearing; they informed us but we are not going.”
According to the chairman, “they invited us some weeks ago to come and give account of our stewardship. This account of stewardship is given on a yearly basis. But they said we should give account of nine months. We went and gave them the accounts.
“Secondly, the House Committee on Local Governments was supposed to come to the local governments and verify the claims the council chairmen had made. But the committee didn’t.
“Even the presentation made on the day chairmen appeared before the house was a summary, they didn’t ask questions and it was thought that when they go round the council areas, they would raise their questions and observations. Even the accounts presented to them we’re not audited; this year’s accounts would be audited next year.
“All these were left undone and what we heard was that they want to conduct a public hearing. We found it amusing and incongruous with the norm. The papers we presented to them are already in the public domain, but in a situation where the accounts were not audited, they didn’t ask the chairmen questions and they did not come to the councils for any form of verification, it’s awkward what the public hearing is based on.”
He said “among the chairmen, the belief is that all they are aiming at is to find some grounds upon which they would stand to dissolve the local governments. That’s what the chairmen believe and that’s the position of things so far.”