Can Local Govts Fulfil Citizens’ Aspirations?

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Local government areas (LGAs) are the closest tiers of government to the general populace but the elected (selected?) council officials often bear the major brunt of anger and attacks from angry citizens. Analysts think this is because despite huge monthly allocations from the federation account to the local councils, development progress at the grassroots in both urban and rural areas is slow and erratic. To you, can the local councils help meet and fulfill citizens’ development aspirations? If yes, how?

ABIMBOLA AKOSILE

* Local governments seem to have lost their relevance over the years. When it comes to development their impact is barely felt. Most developmental projects within states are carried out by the state governments. For example, we have state governments resurfacing Federal and local government roads in addition to state government roads. I think greater resources and responsibilities should be given to the states from both the federal and local governments’ allocations. Not only will development be fast-tracked, but the agitations for secession and resource control would no longer be relevant. State governments should get at least 50 per cent of federal allocations, plus 13 per cent derivation formula for solid minerals and oil producing states.

Mr. Buga Dunj, Jos, Plateau State

* The answer is yes; our general problem in the country is that there is flexibility in all our government organs. Nigerians are fearful people but when those who maintain fear in them are found wanting, the situation becomes worrisome. Local governments can fulfil citizens’ aspirations if the law agencies are tightened up and the right people are elected or appointed to be there.

Hon. Babale Maiungwa, U/Romi, Kaduna

* Yes, they aggressively generate huge revenue from vast human and natural resources still laying fallow amidst lack. Elected council officials often bear miscarriage of justice, unjust anger, villainy attacks e.t.c. as despite huge monthly allocations from Abuja, development progress in both urban and rural areas sadly remain slow and erratic e.g. bad federal roads, security facilities, education, health, food e.t.c. have left too much to be desired.

Miss Apeji Patience Eneyeme, Badagry, Lagos State

* The role of Local Governments cannot be over-emphasised. Nigeria has 774 local government areas (LGAs) and each is administered by a Council consisting of a chairman who is the Chief Executive of the LGA, and other elected members who are referred to as councilors. They are grassroots community and oriented people. They are expected to foster economic partnership and development across the grassroots positively affecting the lives of the rural dwellers. Yes, the local councils can help in the collections of taxes and maintenance and regulation of markets, motor parks and public conveniences; construction and maintenance of roads and cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute e.t.c. In this they can all help in fulfilling citizens aspirations if they are serious; with the State Governors allowing them to perform all these stipulated functions.

Mr. Michael Adedotun Oke, Founder, Michael Adedotun Oke Foundation, Apo, Abuja

* Every aspiration of citizens depends on the leadership of the local government areas’ focus on good governance. After all, these chairmen know where the shoe pinches the citizens on infrastructural development, but they refuse to act or develop the rural areas despite the allocations they are collecting from federal government. It is very sad and unfortunate. Until accountability and probity become watchwords nothing will come out of the council chairmen to deliver good governance.

Mr. Gordon Chika Nnorom, Public Commentator, Umukabia, Abia State

* Yes, of course they can if and only if granted the much-desired full autonomy. Over-dependence on states has enslaved and unjustly bled local governments of their huge economic potentials and resources. They also generate and pool in huge revenues variously. Yet, despite regular federal allocations to states, workers’ overdue salaries, pensions, gratuities are unfortunately owed, while several projects are willfully abandoned here and there. When such workers vent or unleash their anger on these local government officials e.g. during protests, they sadly bear the full wrath therefrom all alone.

Mr. Apeji Onesi, Lagos State

* Local Councils constitute grassroots government and I think if the restructuring everyone is clamouring for is executed – I’m talking precisely of financial autonomy as per local governments – we should witness vertical improvement in development indices. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should beam searchlights on their finances to keep them on their toes, while local government chairmen or chairpersons who reside outside their LGAs should be censured, even prosecuted. This will help move the country forward.

Mr. E. Iheanyi Chukwudi, Brainchild Academic Resources, Apo, Abuja

* Each local government differs from the other. There are urban LGAs and rural ones. The developmental needs of each LGA differ and a centrally planned development agenda may miss the crucial point of local needs and aspirations. Local people deserve the right to determine their most pressing needs. To revive the economy, a robust, virile local government system is a must. We can get out of recession, depression, poverty and widening unemployment only when we return government to the local people and revive the local economy.

Mallam Olawale Rasheed, Sahel Media Group, Abuja

* Yes, if given autonomy. Most leaders do not show mercy towards their brothers. It is difficult for the rich to bring down his materialistic defence against those who need his help, with lack of concern for the poor, widows, orphans and the destitute. That is why there is no development, as funds are directed to governors. Council leaders have constructed mental fences around their lives in order to keep others out; it is wrong to enjoy such riches to the exclusion of others.

Mr. Dogo Stephen, Kaduna

* Local governments can fulfil the aspirations of the citizens, if the council officials have a sense of obligation to the people. Even if they were selected into office in the first place, the council officials must also justify the huge funds they draw from the federation account on a monthly basis, despite the illegal deductions by the state governments. If rebellion has to occur, it will start from the grassroots and the council officials would be the first in the line of fire.

Mr. Olumuyiwa Olorunsomo, Lagos State

* The essence of LGAs is to have government at the grassroots; it is the right thing in a democracy to have a grassroots government. Local government areas can fulfill aspirations of the citizens by taking care of the needs of the citizens like market, schools, health centres e.t.c.

Mr. Okechukwu Ikonne, Ogbor, Oke-Ovoro, Mbaise, Imo State

THE RESPONSE

Yes, they can: 7

No, they cannot: 0

Others: 4

Radical tip: Probe them!

Number of respondents: 11

Male: 10

Female: 1

Highest location: Lagos & Abuja (3 each)

Next Week: Does Restructuring Require a National Referendum?

Despite the increasing clamour for restructuring of the country from most of the regions, the federal government is yet to undertake any concrete action on the contentious issue. However, some analysts believe there should be a nationwide referendum to decide if Nigeria should be restructured or not, just like Britain voted in a referendum to pull out of the European Union. To you, does restructuring require a national referendum or not?

Please make your response direct, short and simple, and state your full name, title, organisation, and location. Responses should be sent between today (September 14 & Monday, Sept 18) to abimbolayi@yahoo.com, greatbimbo@gmail.com, AND abimbola.akosile@thisdaylive.com. Respondents can also send a short text message to 08023117639 and/or 08188361766 and/or 08114495306. Collated responses will be published on Thursday, September 21