What looks like administrative war is presently raging in the twenty seven (27), Local Government Areas of Imo State following a serious disagreement between Directors of Administration and General Services DAGS and other Heads of Departments in the LGAs.
It was learnt that the source of the squabble is over the position of Head of Local Government Administration HOLGA, which is yet to be implemented in Imo State, but already existing in the other thirty five (35) States of the Federation and Federal Capital Authority, Abuja.
Report also has it that in the 2006 approved Scheme of Service in the LGAs in Nigeria, the office of Head of Local Government HOLGA, who should serve as the highest civil servant in each LGA, was created.
But while other LGAs in Nigeria adopted the system, Imo State is yet to follow suit till date.
However, there are indications that as part of his LGA reforms, the current administration in Imo State led by Governor Emeka Ihedioha will soon adopt this system that is already existing in other States.
Following this development, the DAGS and HODs in Imo LGAs are now at each others jugular in preparation of whenever the system would be implement.
As a result of this, the DAGs have written the Imo House of Assembly, through the Permanent Secretary, Local Government Service Commission, stating that the HOLGA positions in Imo LGAs should be drafted from the Forum of DAGs who they said are trained Administrators, to look after the affairs of the LGA administration at the highest level.
The DAGs in their letter to the House of Assembly dated Nov 4, 2019 are arguing that with their backgrounds as trained administrators, the office of HOLGA fits them like a glove.
“This post is introduced under the Department of Administration and General Services on page 1 of the approved Scheme for Local Government Employees in Nigeria, Fourth revised edition (2006) section 3, subsection 3.1” the letter from the DAGS claimed.
But the Forum of Directors/Heads of Departments Imo LGAs rose up in defence of their members, saying that the DAGS are economical with the real fact.
According to the Forum of HODs, the position of HOLGA is meant for all staff of the LGAs, who merit the position as stated by the same 2006 scheme of service.
The HODs said that LGAs are made up of seven Departments and Headed by Directors; namely Administration and General Services, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Budget/Planning/Research and Statistics, Finance and Supply, Primary Healthcare, Social Development/Education/Information/Sports and Culture and finally Works/Transport/Housing/Lands and Survey.
The HODs maintained that as the norm in public service, any Director from any of these Departments is qualified to man the office of HOLGA.
Citing the Approved Scheme of Service For Local Government Employees in Nigeria 2006, the Directors said that the Approved Scheme of Service for Local Government Employees in Nigeria Fourth Revised Edition (2006) Page 1, paragraph 3.1 provides that “the post of HOLGA is open to all staff of a Local Government administration and should strictly be based on merit, seniority, competence and experience”.
However, Trumpeta learnt that the Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration had attempted to implement the administrative structure in Imo LGAs before it left office.
The HODs have written to Imo House of Assembly on November 18, 2019 countering the one written by the DAGS which claimed that the HOLGA position should be for their exclusive reserve.
“All Directors once appointed are equal in status, recognition, rights and privileges and are all qualified for consideration for appointment of the position of HOLGA” the HODs maintained.
However, pundits are of the opinion that whenever Imo State decides to adopt the office of HOLGAs in the LGAs, it would be the right of the Imo Local Government Service Commission to take the necessary decisions that will implement the office of HOLGA in Imo LGAs and restore peace among the LGA senior officers.