Vacuum Created In Jere LG As Borno Ministry of Local Gov’t Fails To Swear In New Chairman

…Its been 12 days after the sad death of Chairman Tom

By Our Grassroots Reporter

Twelve days after the death of the chairman of Jere local government council of Borno, Umar Gujjar-Tom, his office has continued to remain vacant in gross violation of the law,  as the government of Borno state continues to foot-drag the swearing-in of his deputy, Lawan Barma. 

Hon. Gujja-Tom died on Aug. 21 in Abuja after a brief illness and was buried at the federal capital territory on that same day. 

The deceased grassroots politician was sworn in as elected council chairman on Dec. 23, 2020, alongside his vice chairman and councillors. 

The state’s local government election law requires the incumbent council chairmen to wrap up their two years tenure by December 2022.

The death of Jere’s local council Chairman has, by default, dropped the mantle of leadership on his vice, who ought to have been sworn in immediately. But that has not been the case as the vice chairman, according to Premium Times’ investigations, is yet to be administered with an instrument of power to function in a substantive capacity.  

Sources at the Jere local government headquarters in Khaddamari informed our reporter that since the death of the executive chairman 12 days ago, all the paraphernalia of the chairman’s office – including his official vehicle, his police security details and aids have not been transferred to the elected vice chairman who has been hanging around without specific schedules. 

“I am a senior and seasoned local government administrator and I understand the law very well to know that the Constitution has been breached because there is no vacuum in governance,” a local government staff member who pleaded anonymity.

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“The vice chairman ought to have been sworn in minutes after the unfortunate passing of the executive chairman. Government is a continuum and this cannot be excused. Now that you guys in the media are asking questions, we hope the government will save itself from embarrassment, and do the needful.” 

Tight-lipped Vice Chairman 

Efforts to get the vice chairman of Jere local government council, Lawan Barma,  to speak on the matter didn’t yield any positive results as the politician declined to comment. 

When our reporter contacted one of his close allies on phone, the character simply said; “sorry sir, the Vice Chairman would rather not speak on the matter.” 

The Borno state commissioner for local government and emirate affairs, Sugun Mai-Mele, was not available for interview as his staffers at the ministry said he was in Abuja attending a function. 

The member of the Borno state House of Assembly representing Jere constituency, Hon Aji-Kolo Khadi, did not answered as his phone when this reporter called for his comment on the matter.

CSO reaction 

Muazu Abubakar, the Chief executive of a Maiduguri-based civil society, Center for Advocacy, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (CATAI), in an interview with Premium Times on the matter, noted that “the need to have a substantive chairman that will carry on with the leadership responsibility in Jere local government council is key, looking at the numerous reform and development issues that are on the burners of needs of the people, especially as we move into the post insurgency era.”

It is still not clear why Jere has not been able to 

“At the crucial time, there can not be any excuse for any vacuum in the leadership of our council areas. The local government council, guided by the council secretary and under the supervision of the local government and emirate affairs need to prioritize the urgent filling of the vacuum by swearing in the vice chairman to function as the chairman as prescribed in the Constitution of the tbs Federal Republic of Nigeria for the lieutenant to an elected officer be sworn in whenever the principal officer is irreversibly incapacitated.” 

“As far as we are concerned, there is a constituted council in Jere, and they are supposed to be responsible for clearing the next officer to the deceased chairman to be sworn in. Even if they have any issue with the capacity of the vice chairman, they can work around nominating one person amongst them to be sworn in to fill up the vacuum. But for now, the constitution mandates the vice chairman to take over.” 

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