GOVERNOR Charles Chukwuma Soludo held a parley recently with traditional rulers, presidents-general and other stakeholders at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, where the governor deepened his relationship with the grassroots assuring the entire citizenry of his total and unflinching commitment to homeland security through the instrumentality of the leadership of the 179 communities together with the traditional institutions in the state.
This bold step taken by the governor in the right direction speaks volumes of the governor’s recognition and understanding that the hinterland is indeed pivotal and integral to the success of his administration in Anambra state.
Hence the role of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU) was made manifest at its monthly general meeting on Saturday ,7th May, 2022, at the ASATU Complex, Government House, Awka, where Tony-Collins Nwabunwanne, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftancy Matters, Patrick Agha-Mba, the Commissioner for Youth Development and Creative Economy, Chinedu Nwoye, the Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Protocol Officer to the governor and Dr. Nelson Obinna Omenugha, the Special Adviser to Governor Soludo on Youth Empowerment Programmes, including the National President of ASATU, Chief Titus Nnabuike Akpudo, all spoke so eloquently about the indispensable and indefatigable role of ASATU in achieving a liveable and prosperous new Anambra for all and sundry.
The ASATU monthly family meeting, which doubled also as a grand occasion for the recognition and decoration of the Local Government Commissioner, the Youth Development Commissioner, the Deputy Chief of Staff, as well as the Special Adviser on Youth Empowerment Programmes as worthy National Ambassadors of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), provided veritable platform for ample discussions on how ASATU could contribute her quota to help foster community development, especially as Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo has increased the Community-Choose-Your-Project Grant from N20 million to N25 million.
Thus, ASATU has been incorporated into the government of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo and her role clearly defined because presidents-general are said to be governors of their various communities and equally have firsthand information about happenings therein. Although ASATU was treated with levity and disdain in time past due to arbitrary installation of town union caretaker committees in some communities by government machineries without consultations with ASATU as evident in some communities ridden with town union leadership crisis; the present administration of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo has extended a hand of fellowship to the ASATU family as evident in the move by government to abolish all caretaker committees and conduct elections in order to have duly elected town union officials ratified by the communities to run the affairs of the people.
It is therefore the dawn of a new partnership between ASATU and the state government in the governance and administration of the 179 communities in Anambra State as attested to by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftancy Matters, Tony-Collins Nwabunwanne, when he said government cannot succeed in the grassroots without consultations with ASATU. The Local Government Commissioner said: “The government can’t really do much without the presidents-general. The presidents-general are key major stakeholders of every community in Anambra State.
They are second to none. They assist the traditional rulers in their various communities. We have always achieved better results in the grassroots with them including some of the traditional rulers too. Moving forward, ASATU is going to be our eyes in the grassroots. They are going to be our eyes in terms of security watch, developmental projects and leadership, especially as it concerns re-orientation of our youths in the way they think these days.
So ASATU is going to play a major role in this administration just like Mr. Governor said that we are going to start the Community-Choose-Your-Project Scheme again. All these things are going down to the grassroots and it is this same presidents-general and the traditional rulers that we expect to keep the communities in order for government to achieve its goals and objectives. “
Furthermore, the Special Adviser on Youth Empowerment Programmes Dr. Nelson Obinna Omenugha, who corroborated what the Local Government Commissioner said, noted that the governor is very committed to community development. Omenugha said that the governor has increased the state intervention at the community level from 20 to N25 million . Again, Omenugha opined that the governor has pledged that all his interventions and programmes will be community-based which is to say that the governor recognises the place of the grassroots in the overall development of the state.
That the governor is working so assiduously to placing Anambra on the world map through energising and empowering communities to take full ownership of their homeland. Omenugha therefore believes that the role of ASATU would be to ensure that communities support government policies and programmes to enable them be on the same page with government on the developmental strides, adding that ASATU would be used as a veritable medium to execute the governor’s empowerment programmes in all the communities.
Meanwhile the Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Protocol Officer of the Anambra State Government, Chinedu Nwoye also harped on the importance of ASATU to the success of the present administration. Nwoye noted that henceforth, a progressive partnership with government is expected because ASATU, according to him, is the closest government to the people. That ASATU should begin from their various communities to educate the grassroots on youth development, security and what have you to enable them to key into government programmes.
Also, Patrick Agha-Mba, the Commissioner for Youth Development and Creative Economy, who equally functions as the National President, ASATU Youth Wing, explained that ASATU has been supporting the government through what he mentioned as community bridge-building.
Agha-Mba, who described ASATU as one of the relevant institutions in Anambra State, maintained that government cannot do it alone but needs the cooperation and collaboration of organisations with integrity like ASATU to carry out its plans for the people. That the governor believes very strongly that he would make greater impact in the communities with ASATU as evident in the commitment the governor made when he muted the increase of funds for the Community-Choose-Your-Project Scheme from 20 to N25 million .
On the other hand, the President-General of Uke community in Idemili-North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Comrade Peter Chibike Onyejegbu expressed great joy that it is a welcome development that ASATU and the state government have shown great signs of a harmonious working relationship, especially as he said that the security of PGs seems to be guaranteed under the present administration.
The Uke community leader said that Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo is taking government to the grassroots, which according to him, is commendable but stressed that the communities must think of what they will do for the government before expecting anything from the government. In the same vein, Dr. Ikechukwu Ofokansi, the National Vice President of ASATU and Chairman ASATU, Anambra-Central Senatorial Zone, noted that ASATU is the fourth tier of government and without their contributions, Anambra State will not be complete. Ofokansi also noted that Anambra State is a component of 179 communities and each of the communities is being headed by a president-general and the presidents-general have an umbrella body called ASATU.
He said ASATU has the capacity to organise the communities within them and without the 179 communities, there would be no Anambra State. Ofokansi, who stated that the contributions of ASATU cannot be overemphasised, noted that the current Local Government Commissioner, Tony-Collins Nwabunwanne is ASATU-friendly and has equally assured presidents-general of an open-door policy whenever the need arises.
On his part, the National President of ASATU, Chief Titus Nnabuike Akpudo, who also doubles as the President-General of Eziowele, in Idemili-North Local Government Area of Anambra State, said categorically that ASATU will always pledge its loyalty to every good policy of the government. Akpudo said that the governor is a very seasoned personality and would respond positively to the needs of the people, adding that ASATU will help the governor to succeed because every development will be in the communities.
The ASATU national president said Governor Soludo has assured that the Community-Choose-Your-Project Scheme will be upgraded from Ex-Governor Willie Obiano’s N20million to N25million as the governor plans to enhance vigilante services, as well as fix roads in the hinterlands to make life worth living for those in the villages and communities.
He said the governor is doing his best and that ASATU is ready to compliment his best, adding that Governor Soludo is the solution and he will succeed. That ASATU will do its utmost to make sure that the governor succeeds in his efforts to entrench a new Anambra conducive and congenial for everyone. Akpudo said ASATU is ready to work to ensure the success of Soludo’s administration and for Anambra State to move forward to become the Dubai in Africa.
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