Mr. Dauda Pona, chairman of Chibok local government area of Borno State spoke correspondent, Benedict Adeka on his achievements at the council
Many local government chairmen complain that they do not get what is due to them from the federation account, as they claim that their allocation is being tampered with by their governors. In your case, are your allocations fully remitted to your council?
We in Borno State have no cause to regret, because our transparent governor who believes in the rule of law gives us exactly what is our own share without tampering with a single kobo. Sometimes we get N30 to N50 million, and when I receive this money on monthly basis, I call my senior officers to a meeting, we sit down, we deliberate and make good plans on how to develop our area. So to make that statement is completely false; our governor does not tamper with any council's funds. I can confidently tell it to the whole world. The bone of contention is that, what have been allocated to all the 777 local government areas in the country from the federation account or the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, after paying salaries, there is nothing left for you to do some projects with it. And that is the primary problem; it is not as some people assume that some local government chairmen are not doing well because the governor is tampering with their funds. It is totally uncalled for or a false statement as I earlier said. In fact, the governor didn't even know when we had our meetings with the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs on fund management. How much more of tampering with the funds. It is only some few disgruntled elements that want to dent his image and they will never succeed in that regards. The only thing they should do is to challenge the federal government to increase the allocation which can carter for some of these problems on ground.
Some local government councils like Jere, MMC and Biu, had experienced a lot of problem on payment of salaries and allowances to their staff. They claim they have ghost workers on their payroll. This made the governor recently to constitute some high powered committee to look into the problem. Is this applicable to your council?
Actually, we do not have such a problem. This is because during that time, the governor inaugurated some powerful committees which went round the 27 local government areas of the state and paid salaries based on concrete verifications. And to that effect my local government is fully operating without any ghost workers.
What about the working relationship with the staff of the local government and security agents?
As regards working relationship with local government staff and my administration, I can categorically tell you that it is very cordial. This is because anything (project) beyond N200, 000 I do not do it without consulting them. I have to write to the council, and they will sit down and deliberate on it before final approval is being made. Before I execute that project, their salaries and allowances are paid without delay.
In terms of security, we make sure that peace and unity prevail in the council. I want to tell you that in any society, when there is no security of lives and property, there is bound to be chaos. Against this background, we liaise with the police and other security agencies in my local government to fight crime and other social vices, and I will assist all these security agencies in whatever capacity, including the vigilante groups in my local government, having realised their immense contribution to the society. I want to equally thank my governor for launching the Operation Flush across the entire 27 council areas of the state which has drastically reduced the rate of crime in the state.
The federal government has recently approved the contract for construction of Damboa-Chibok-Mbalala road which runs into billions of naira. With this development, do you have any plan of establishing a small scale industry in your area, considering the fact that your people are agrarian in occupation?
Of course, I will say that we in Chibok are very grateful with the new development. The road you are talking about has been one of our strong agitations to the federal government since time immemorial. Now that the federal government has considered our plea, I want to tell you that very soon my council will be more developed by the special grace of God Almighty. I want to thank our governor for taking our outcry to President Musa Yar'Adua who eventually approved the construction of the road at the federal executive council, FEC, meeting in Abuja recently. So we are going to make sure that we collaborate even with the state government and any private organisation towards that regard, because establishing an industry will go a long way in eradicating poverty and unemployment among the jobless youths in not only my local government but the whole of the state.
What plans do you have for your people now?
I have a lot of plans that can improve on the welfare and living condition of the people of my area. Already we have concluded arrangement for the construction of a boarding primary school in my local government and I am happy to inform you that our governor is in full support of this project. We will also make sure that we consolidate on the good policies and programmes of the ANPP administration by providing fertiliser and other farming inputs to our teeming farmers. We will also work tirelessly to satisfy the needs and aspirations of our people within the limited resources at our disposal. My advice is that, let everybody in the area support and co-operate with the government of the day so that more democracy dividends will be rendered to the people irrespective of political differences