On July 26 this year, the Senate voted in support of Local Government Autonomy as part of 29 bills up for amendment in the 1999 Constitution. Local government autonomy has been described as an ideal recipe to tackle the deplorable level of development the grassroots level across the country. It is believed that while the state governor focuses on developing the state capital and some selected local governments, most other councils actually suffer under-development.
The local government is the closest tier of government to the grassroots, which implies that it is the nearest organ that can deliver the dividends of democracy in terms of provisions of social amenities and good governance to remote and far-flung part of the thousands of communities around the country.
However, the real situation on ground is that most state governments and governors have perfected the art of throttling the local councils under them. From reports and interactions, details have emerged how governors corner the lion shares of the council allocations and pass crumbs down to the officials at the local level, ostensibly to perform ‘magic’ in fulfilling their campaign promises to the hovering masses and electorate at the grassroots.
Ironically, the huge funds allocated on a monthly basis from the federation account to the local councils are barely sufficient to pay salaries and also execute the development projects to fulfil their mandate. This is why the Senate’s approval may end up stirring the hornets’ nest and lead to face-offs between reluctant governors and hopeful council officials who were installed by the former. Nowhere in this imbroglio is the interest of the masses represented. For local council autonomy to occur and take deep root in Nigeria, there is bound to be friction, and casualties may occur…harsh reality
– Abimbola Akosile