Tinubu Worries About State of Local Govts

•Says breakdown of third tier of government contributing to development setbacks, insecurity

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has expressed concern about the state of the local government system, saying dilapidation of the third tier of government is contributing to the development setbacks and national security threats being witnessed in the country.

Speaking at a one-day national discourse on Nigeria’s security challenges and good governance at the local government level, Tinubu, represented by Minister of Defence, Abubakar Badaru, said good governance at all levels of government will foster development and reduce conflict.

He said a well-governed state was better equipped to address internal challenges, such as terrorism, insurgency and communal violence.

The president said absence of good governance led to widespread corruption, political instability, economic disparities, and social unrest. He said these not only undermined human securities by depriving individuals of their basic needs, but also constituted a significant threat to national security by fostering conditions conducive to complete and complex extremism.

According to him, “Sadly, the state of our local government system in Nigeria is a cause of concern, as its degradation and incapacitation have continued significantly and contributed significantly to our developmental setback and our inability to effectively address the prevailing national security threat.

“We find ourselves trapped in a paradoxical situation where the very areas most affected by security cases are rendered powerless and unable to mount any meaningful resistance or defence.

“Local governments are the frontline defenders against insecurity, as they are closest to the people and possess intimate knowledge of their communities’ need and challenges. This is why some are advocating for community policing, as a panacea to end security challenges.”

Tinubu regretted that the country’s security challenges had persisted over time, posing a threat to national safety and well-being. He added that the scourge of insurgency, terrorism, banditry, and other forms of criminality had inflicted untold suffering on the people and undermined collective peace and prosperity.

According to him, “It is imperative that the nation confronts those challenges head on, if we are to move forward in our journey towards development. While various measures have been proposed and implemented, it is evident that ensuring the security of our people and our nation is a collective responsibility that requires the active participation of government at all levels as well as active collaborations of citizens.

“It goes without saying that the world was hit by those security skirmishes in the rural areas as our local populace and the economy continues to be unsettled by enemies of the state. I make bold to say that since my assumption of office, we have made significant strides and achieved remarkable results in our effort to secure our nation. So much more needs to be done, particularly by governments within the local areas where those attacks are prominent.”

While tasking Nigerians to explore the nexus of good governance, human security and national security, the president added that the three elements were intricately linked, and played very important roles in shaping the stability, prosperity, and overall well-being of the country.

He stressed that the stability and prosperity of any nation were intricately linked to the quality of its governance, saying, “Good governance is essential for ensuring that the resources of the nation are managed effectively, productively and transparently.

“When leaders act in the best interests of their citizens, uphold the rule of law and promote accountability, it creates an environment where all individuals can thrive. This not only fosters economic development, but also enhances social cohesion, or reduces the risks of conflict within a society.

“A well-governed state is better equipped to address internal challenges such as terrorism, insurgency and communal violence. Just through policies and programmes that prioritise the well-being of the people and ensure that individuals meet their basic need, government can mitigate the root cause of conflict and promote peace within their borders.”

The president added, “On the other hand, homeland security is intrinsically linked to good governance, as it focuses on protecting individuals from various forms, such as poverty, disease, violence, and environmental degradation.

“Without adequate human security measures in place, people’s lives are at a threat and rights violated and their dignity is compromised. It is imperative to recognise that the promotion of human security has emerged as the central focus of new development paradigm.

“In today’s world, we understand that simply building arms and ammunition does not guarantee peace and security and political stability through national security lies in eradicating hunger, diseases, poverty and unemployment through sustainable development programs.

“Those factors hold the key to achieving an enduring national security. They will amount to nothing if we do not address the underlying threat of hunger, disease, poverty, unemployment, political and economic economical exclusion, and lack of social amenities.

“Local governments, being the closest government to the people, are strategically positioned in promoting human security by delivering essential services, like health, education, sanitation and social welfare programs directly to communities where they are most needed.”

Tinubu also said local governments “are important in ensuring that our communities are safe, prosperous and resilient. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to strengthen our local government system to effectively address those challenges.

“Empowering local government authority with the necessary resources and capacities to implement sustainable development initiative, we can create a more secure and stable nation.

“It is imperative to acknowledge that security is fundamentally about human beings, not just the state. After all, it is individuals who make up the state, not the other way around.”

The president said his administration was committed to implementing measures aimed at bolstering the local government system, saying, “This commitment is deeply rooted in our bottom of development approach.

“Recognising that sustainable development, national security and prosperity can only be achieved when every level of government functions effectively and accountably. We must realise that the local government system is not just a matter of administrative convenience.

“It is a cornerstone of our national security architecture and by empowering local governments to fulfil their mandate efficiently and ethically, we create a solid foundation for ensuring safety, stability and well-being of Nigerians.”

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