The Local Government is the nearest form of government to the people, while the rural areas have the majority number of people afflicted with hunger and poverty. At this level of governance, a lot has gone wrong, even as corruption, crime, and lawlessness are commonplace. The appointment of caretaker chairmen by a number of state Governments has had little or no impact on the scheme of things at the grassroots.
Nigerians lament that economic planning and development of Local Government Areas in the country have been stalled by the anti-people policies of the Federal and State Governments. In this interview, the Founder, Spiritual Head, and Grand Imam of Shafaudeen-in-Islam Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke opines that the overbearing influence of State Governments on the Local Government administration is among the several factors militating against development at the grassroots. Excerpts :
In what ways do you think economic planning and development at the Local Government level can be revived in Nigeria?
Local Governments lack the necessary autonomy and are faced with various abuses, which is to detriment of service delivery to the people.
Presently, we have 774 Local Governments with a uniform structure and bureaucracy-direct service to the people at the grassroots for effective administration and efficient management of resources.
However, the factors militating against local government administration performance can be traced to constitutional defects and lack of good governance for functional local government administration.
There is no emphasis on skills acquisition and specific disciplines, hence the drive for involvement is haphazard and robotic-ally controlled. This has resulted in impacting negatively, on transparency, responsiveness, respect for the rule of law and effectiveness, and efficiency challenge.
We must not lose sight of the fact that accountability is a function of transparency, the rule of law, and constitutionality.
There are several factors militating against local government performance in Nigeria. These include low financial/human capacity, low resource allocation for meaningful impact on the people, hydra head corrupt incompetence, work attitude quest due to constitutional lapses, local governments are tied to the apron strings of the state governments and this has made the state governments and Houses of Assemblies have overbearing influence on local government administration, lack of continuity of policies, programs and projects by successive administrations and the absence of autonomy fr the Local Governments through constitutional inadequacies leading to confusion that gives way for frivolous acts in local government administration.
Of note is the fact that Nigerians are yet to feel the expected development impact of the Local Council Development Areas(LCDA) in states same is operational, except for the fact that it gives the State Governors political grip and spread for stronghold base. A drastic political drive to meet up with the expectation of development needs to start now in tandem with global best practices that make the local government administrations to be the hope of the masses. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has to be amended to enable state governments and their houses of Assemblies to support the autonomy of Local Governments for full functionality by loosening their firm grip on the local governments to allow for its efficiency and effectiveness to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the grassroots people they are serving and to reduce the emigration of people from the rural areas to the urban centers.
It is equally important to put in place an effective monitoring mechanism to input transparency and accountability factors of control and minimize fraud and corruption in the local government administration service functions and delivery service.
Finally, there is a dire need for an enabling legal framework to provide the right leadership and institutional capabilities in the economic development of their communities and economic development for the wellness need of the people to be met.