Advocacy for a vibrant local government system | The Guardian Nigeria News
Governance at the local government level in Nigeria is in crisis. The waste of colossal resources by elected officials and other officials of the third level of government in the past, and even more so today, has resulted in a dismal failure.
In addition to providing services, the system was created to promote political development in the direction of national consciousness and integration. It aimed to decongest the center by localizing some of its activities at the grassroots, to bring a national perspective to people, while preserving their local identities.
Last October, former President Olusegun Obasanjo accused governors of being the main obstacle to effective local administration.
For Lagos State Governor Special Advisor for Communication and Community Affairs, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, another problem facing councils is the issue of the income distribution formula which is biased against the third tier. government, adding that although it is closest to the citizens, it has the least allowance.
Bamigbetan also identified years of dictatorship and non-payment of tariffs by citizens to councils as other challenges that are responsible for their poor performance.
Obasanjo, who delivered a keynote address at the First International Conference on Politics, Security and Development, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, titled: “40 Years of Local Government Reform in Nigeria: A valuation, ”traced the genesis of the problem to the Second Republic, where he noted that the gains envisioned by the 1976 reforms have become a mirage, adding that local government has since become a political issue.
“The civilian regime of President Shehu Shagari and the then 19 state governors politicized the system and used it as a tool for partisan reward and punishment. Unlike Article 7 of the 1979 constitution, which provided for democratically elected local officials, several local authorities were arbitrarily dissolved, notably in Kano and Lagos states for futile reasons, while interim committees were formed to replace them or single directors appointed without any elections held.
The Guardian observed that only a few states provided grassroots infrastructure developments, while the rest managed to take over government administration.
Some of the presidents told the Guardian they were underfunded because only a fraction of their allocation is released by the governors. They accuse the local government / state joint account of being the major debacle that still affected their finances, which indirectly affected their performance.
According to the constitution, the allocation from the consolidated national income account to local government should be added to the state contribution in a common account as funding for local government functions. But not only do most states not contribute anything in violation of the constitution, they also design various programs to take a substantial share of the allocations owed to the councils.
With this, most of the council officials simply shared what was left among them without any serious service being undertaken for the people.
During 2014, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), headed by its former head, Professor Attahiru Jega, listed states that for many years had not held council elections. While some tried to conduct an election, others rejected the call.
The use of interim officials has been described by political analysts as political recklessness. On several occasions, governors arbitrarily dismiss elected representatives of the council, without recourse to the House of Assembly.
For example, there was the dissolution of the local elected representatives of the government of Ekiti State on October 29, 2010, by the government of Kayode Fayemi, while the presidents still had until December 19, 2011 to complete their term of office. three years.
Although it took them years to get a judgment from the court of law, when they were finally heard fairly by the Supreme Court at the end of last year, the judge not only condemned the government decision, he described the act of dissolving democratically elected local government representatives by governors and replacing them with interim committees, as a recklessness of the executive.
The Supreme Court also struck down provisions in laws promulgated by state houses of assembly authorizing governors to effect such dissolution and replacing them with interim committees.
To overcome the challenges, former Ogun State Chiefdom and Local Government Affairs Commissioner Muyiwa Oladipo urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the independence of local governments is guaranteed and to review the income sharing formula of the three levels.
He said: “The president should increase the revenue sharing formula of the local government, so that it is autonomous. The percentage going to the federal government should be reduced and the state and the councils should get larger shares. This is the main area the president needs to focus on in repositioning local government, as it all comes down to funding. “
Obasanjo, who pointed out that councils have tremendous capacity more than any other level of government, urged them to establish a good partnership with private and public organizations to positively transmit people’s lives.
The former president wants local governments to be led by men and women who understand the challenges people face and who will face issues that will raise the standard of living of the masses.
“To reposition the third level, we need confident, creative and courageous leaders to achieve the desired result. Such leaders must have character, command respect, strong without being ruthless, generous without extravagance, with high morality, a level of responsibility and a willingness to work.
“Local government as the third level of government should not be suppressed or changed, but rather strengthened and democratized. Local government officials should always be elected, not appointed. It is also necessary to put in place a mechanism to promote transparency and accountability at all levels of governance. In this regard, it will be crucial to strengthen horizontal accountability institutions and anti-corruption bodies. In addition, civil society organizations, especially at the local level, should be reoriented and empowered to hold elected officials to account. “