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ISSUES ABATTOIR: Suicidal! Who Votes Against Local Government Autonomy Implementation”

map 2The popularly known third tier of Government in the Nigeria system has speedily gotten and gained the nod of the Nigeria National Assembly for its autonomy, making it no longer surrogate in the hands and dictate governors who uses Local Government funds and officials with impunity, this is to state that Local Government under the coming amendment of the constitution shall have four years tenure of administration, like their state counterparts.

As it is going, elections into Local Government Council would no longer be supervised by States Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), but the Independent National Electoral Commission-(INEC). See Part VI of the electoral act 2010 as amended.

However, the supervision of states over Local Government would now be minimal.

On Thursday October, 16th, 2014 the House of Representatives voted to amend section 7to grant full financial, administrative, executive and Legislative autonomy to Local Government Councils. By this development, the councils would be made a constitutional Third tier of government having uniform four years tenure with the other tiers.

The House of Representatives further voted and approved amendment of section 162 to abolish the “State Joint Local Government Account” and establish instead a “Local Government Council Allocation Account” into which shall be paid directly allocation to each Local Government Council from the Federal Account and from the State Government.

If the House of Representatives have abandoned their ego concerning the autonomy of local government councils and came out with the above positions, then there is no problem for the autonomy of Local Government in Nigeria. The upper chambers, the Senate has from the inception of the struggle and presentation of this idea by Mr. President queue in without opposition. Hence their unanimous passage of the same report from the just concluded confab on Tuesday October 21st, 2014.

Today, the coast seems brighter for the essence of creation of the third tier of government in Nigeria and it would now have constitutional backing unlike before when the state governors exercise undue influences over it, a situation that has thrown Local Government and indeed the grassroots, (local communities) in Nigeria into underdevelopment.

It is good to say kudos to the President and grand commander in chief of Armed forces, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GCON, GCFR, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

While the good news spreads like bubbles on the sea, and wild fire, there are yet several issues connecting to the envisaged autonomy of local government administrations since that government was essentially established to “bring the government, development closer to the people at the grassroots”. It was viewed that the ordinary man at the rural community judging from the Nigeria multi-ethnic groups could not be privileged to reach the government at the federal or states to demand or table the needs of the rural people, hence the passion for the third tier system.

But the operations of the third tier system now in Nigeria seems not, rather do not favour the people as majority of the rural communities are denied access to not only good governance but also the basic things of life, thereby defeating the essence of the third tier government.

Nigeria has not less than 774 Local Government Council Areas but sadly, majority of them could not boast of attaining development status, knowing that these rural communities constitute the many urban cities in the Nation. The country remains under-developed as long as these rural communities exists without the basic infrastructure and basic need of life therefore the people are wallowing and struggling in abject poverty, where majority of families are unable to have at least 3 square meals per day.

They are unable to have good shelters, better health care delivery, lack of pipe born water scheme as well as good roads network among others due to poor and bad governance.

It baffles many and surprising that people talk much of good governance when those expected to drive home the good governance are complaining of bad governance. Good governance is not the sole responsibility of the federal government but the states and Local Governments as well as the many in the various government agencies, parastatals and officially assign responsibilities both in the corporate and private establishments.

What is good governance when a governor would hold back what is meant for the less privilege and populace? Where are the Federal Government assigned Sure-P Project fund to the 36 states of Nigeria. Where is the Sure-P Fund for the people at the Local Government Areas, where are those earmarked for construction works, etcetera.

When elected local government chairman for 3 years tenure does not have a blue print of development and could not develop or provides the people with any good thing of life within 3 years in the face of abundance of wealth, what then is good governance?

It is the interest and concern of Issues Abattoir in this episode to remind and or seek to draw the attention of government at the federal level to the careless, inordinate and irresponsible attitudes of many council chairmen and as well examines carefully the type of individual to be voted into offices as chairmen of the third tier system acknowledging the essence of its creation.

Now, that Local Government Council elections is to be carried out and conducted by the National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) other than the States Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), it is expedient that occupants and seekers of the plum offices of Local Government Chairman are seriously protected, scrutinized by reaching out to the people in getting a proper and most generally acceptable figure to lead the people.

In essence, since all that glitters are not gold, chairmen of the local government councils should be men of proven integrity, proven tract records in previous offices, not drunkards, not feeble minded ones, not arrogance, etc but those with interest to developing the rural areas.

Apart from examining the crop of chairmen before voting into office and previous tract records of such an individual, it is also crucial to re-orientate and examine the stuff of most of the principal officers who are equal drivers in the local government system.

Take it or deny it, like it or hate it, Issues Abattoir posits that the truth remains that no elected council chairman could rob a local government council without the assistance and directives of the principal or professional officers.

This was the position of a former elected chairman of Andoni local government council in Rivers State, Apostle Felix Fineface Ayayi who was ambushed with the assistance of the then head of personal management. In the end, the said chairman was vindicated as the truth survives and that principal officers are pillars and drivers in the third tier system.

Bravo, to the principal officers in Degema local government council in Rivers State, who stood their grounds to resist the chairman, Hon. Daddy Pokima’s quest to loan an alleged sum of about Two-billion (N2b) when his tenure was to expire in November, 2014.

If all principal officers should resist the temptation of personal gains and render services as required then the third tier system would definitely be a better place to plan for the development of rural areas.

Furthermore, the obvious is the electorate who dines and wine with all kinds of people in the society and who are better placed to identify and distinguish between bad eggs in the society. They (electorate) should undermine their immediate benefit that would probably end at the Bar and vote for a credible candidate who in turn shall be conscious of the people at the grassroots. When the electorate says No to any dubious, unscrupulous and undesirable elements as aspirants and cast their votes overwhelmingly to an adjudged good or better candidate irrespective of political platform, it is certainly then that the society as well as the rural areas would have reasons to appreciate the third tier system and justified its creation.

Indeed, if the electorate selects an unacceptable leader or chairman, the meaning is that the principal officers at the councils who are professionals would have no say at such time to denying him their services but to play along at the detriment of the electorate who did the voting.

Therefore, while it is incumbent on the respective political parties to understand the current policies of the federal government by allowing local government councils to run an autonomous system, it behooves of them to select during its primaries sound, trusted and men of proven integrity to fly their party’s flag to avoid failure.

It is therefore, suggested that, aspirants to the chairmanship offices of Local Government Councils should be subjected to a level of party internal interviews without bias and public debates on how prepared they are to administer the local councils if voted. Without sentiment, serious aspirants would be noted through such process.

Every individual irrespective of class in the society hails from a village, town or hamlet within a Local Government Area; hence the heart beat of government at the centre to ensure the development of the rural areas should be encouraged.

If Nigeria is to become a developed nation and Nigerians rated among developed citizens, then it is the duty of all, especially the electorate at the grassroots and those at the echelon of powers to void greed, sentiment, corruption and self centeredness but embrace the global wind of change.

Change is sacrosanct, not the type that some governors advocates for while practicing corruption, tribalism, fraud, name them in the secret and shouting in the public.

However, while commending the National Assembly for their efforts in ensuring autonomy of local government councils, it is indeed worthy to invite all citizens of this country to assist the good gesture of government in bringing development to every door steps and a call for active participation by all.

 

At this juncture, it is no longer a secret that some state governors and their state legislatures do not mean well for Nigeria, because of the game they play with Local Government funds.

Since the National Assembly had already okayed LG autonomy, it is the resolve of Issues Abattoir to not only support that position but to call on the National Assembly and the Presidency to jettison the fraudulent stance of the affected state governors and their rubber stamped legislative assembly, but move on to grant the autonomy as clamoured for by the citizenry.

The amendment of Section 7 and 8 of the 1999 Constitution as amended is very vital in the development of Nigeria, particularly the grassroots.

Therefore attempts to scuttle such dreams is suicidal and those opposed to it should be medically examined.

Like the scriptures, those who plotted Jesus’ death deserves not to live, those moving against LG autonomy may have been inviting such curses on themselves.###

 

With James Mgboineme

Jamesprojectgodwin@yahoo.com.

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