Ezekwesili, Yesufu, Others Seek Local Govt Autonomy

Sunday Okobi

The Office of the Citizen (OOTC) has made a case for local government autonomy in Nigeria in order to achieve the desired development plans for the citizenry.

The OOTC team, which made the appeal at the maiden virtual Democracy Dialogue on June 12 with the theme: ‘Promoting Sustainable Development Models for Effective Local Governance’, said the event was designed to compel key political and electoral reform actions for credible, transparent, free and fair elections by the executive, legislature, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security establishment.

Speaking during the event, the Founder of #FixPolitics, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, said: “Nigeria is faced with serious structural challenges in its democracy and governance, and nothing works until structural solutions are provided.”

The former vice president of the World Bank revealed that the country’s problems cannot be solved from the top cadre of governance, unless the grassroots are involved.

She said: “That means we cannot start solving problems of the country from the rooftops. We believe that for functionality, we have to correct the structure, which is at the centre of constitutional change. A Nigeria that works has to be designed by the people. We need to place the grassroots at the heart of the Nigeria project.”

Also, social activist, Aisha Yesufu, called for total citizen inclusion in the democratic process, even at home, adding that the government should involve the citizens in decision-making.

Yesufu advocated attitudinal change in governance and autonomy for local government administration.

She added: “We need to understand that people have the right to make demands and ask for explanations. Asking questions is good, and that means they believe in the government. There should be attitudinal change. Presently, the local government’s loyalty has been to the state government, and not the people who elected them. That has to change.”

On his part, the Chairman, Igbogbo-Baiyeku Local Council Development Area, Lagos State, Olusesan Daini, agreed with Yesufu on the call for local government autonomy.

According to him, the role of local governments is clear in the constitution. They are expected to look at the economic development of the state, because, for any state to thrive, there must be functional local government administration.

“We are entrusted with the healthcare system, road maintenance, preservation of natural resources, except mining, primary education, healthcare system, the environment and road infrastructure.”

Also, the Executive Director, Advocate for Good Governance, Sesugh Akume, said funds for local governments should get them directly.

He stated that: “There is too much centralisation in Nigeria, and now is the time to decentralise power and allow the local governments access funds directly from the federal government. There is too much restriction in the country, and that is affecting the local government functionality.”

On her part, the Founder, Community Life Project, Ngozi Iwere, called for integrity in the electoral process, charging the citizens to take responsibility and demand electoral integrity, defend their votes and ensure that votes count.

The Founder of BudgIT, Seun Onigbinde, on his own, called for tracking of government performance and social accountability. For him, what gets measured gets done, and people should come together to make the government accountable to the people.

Two-time Minister, Frank Nweke Jnr, said he was pleased with the dialogue’s outcome, and therefore, called for citizen vigilance, urging the people to pay attention to how they’re being governed.

Related Articles