By Victor Ezeja
President-General of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), Chief Titus Akpudo says suspending activities for electing town union executives and traditional rulers during the season of major elections prevents crisis that might disrupt the electoral process or cause general instability.
In a chat with Prime Business Africa, Chief Akpudo reacted to the lifting of a six-month ban on town union elections and election for traditional rulers as announced by the state government on Wednesday through the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Chief Greg Obi. Akpudo said the annoucement was a delight for all indigenes of Anambra State.
The State Government had in June, 2021 suspended all community-based elections, including that of executive officers of Anambra State Association of Town Unions, women and youth wing for all to focus on the impending November 6 governorship election.
Akpudo, who is also the President-General of the Eziowelle Town Union in Idemili North Local Government Area of the state, said that ceasation of town union and traditional rulers’ elections during major election seasons had been a normal practice in the state.
He said that the Anambra State Association of Town Unions, as an umbrella body for all communities or town unions, and the state’s traditional ruling council headed by the Obi of Onitsha were all under the control of the State government.
He explained that “It has been the practice that whenever gubernatorial election is fixed, the state government authority senses that if you allow some things like town union elections and igweship elections, they can generate more controversy than the state government election itself. If any of them fall within the time the state is planning to hold election, there may be crisis. Town union elections are not child’s play. It is something that people take very seriously. To elect the president general of a community is not a child’s play, the same for electing an igwe or traditional ruler.”
The ASATU president added that, to avert crisis, the state government puts on hold any forthcoming town union elections until the state’s major elections are concluded.
“To avoid any negative events or anything that could mar the state or national election, the government will put community politics on hold until after the major election, because it is the government that controls everything. They take the lead, dictate, direct and execute all their policies and guidelines and you as a member of the community are expected to obey those government directives. It is within the confines and powers of the government to dictate for any community or town what will be good for them.
The reason, according to him, was to maintain peace and order in every community and ensure that every person focuses on the collective project of producing the state governor or president or national and state assembly members.
“Once we allow multiple things to go on at the same time, we are bound to have problems; there will be confusion. People may find themselves disobeying constituted authority. So, government in its wisdom chooses that it is always good and better to do one thing at a time because in those town union and igweship elections the state government is also involved. The State government usually sends delegates who would monitor the elections, issue reports and after that the government issues certificates. A governor or candidate who is fighting to ensure that he wins election might not find it easy embarking on a campaign tour to some communities where there are ongoing elections, Akpudo said.
He further stated that unscrupulous politicians often cease the moment to cause chaos in communities, just to discredit the incumbent government.