By Okey Muogbo
The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) has made a strong case for State Police as a solution for insecurity in Nigeria.
The Association has also made another strong case for a uniform four-year tenure for local government councils throughout Nigeria.
These were part of the resolutions reached after ALGON’s General Assembly held at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre in Abuja on Wednesday.
Other decisions reached at the General Assembly included the call for complete Autonomy frf Local Governments and area Councils in the country as well as review of the 1999 Constitution to address impediment making Local Government Council administration efficient and effective.
ALGON at the Assembly also decried lingering unconstitutional utilisation of local governments and Councils’ fund without recource to the LGCs especially by State Governments.
The General Assembly also called for quick intervention on the part of the Federal Government to ensure that adequate COVID-19 Vaccines get to the rural areas across the (Local Governments and Councils) so that rural dwellers would be vaccinated against the pandemic.
At opening ceremony of the General Assembly, National President of ALGON, Hon. David Kolade Alabi had mentioned few of the achievement of the Association under his leadership in the last two years.
They include, provision of stimuls package by the ALGON during the difficulty months of the COVID-19 lockdown.
He also mentioned the renewed partnership with United Cities and Local Local Government of Africa,(UCLG Africa) and the European Union (EU) as well as the on-going efforts to recover ALGON House in Abuja.
ALGON, he went on, engeaged the services of consultants to verify Local Government investments in Niger the Delta Holding Company among others.
The Assembly also re-iterated ALGON’s opposition to arbitrary sacking of elected local government councils by some state governors.
Earlier in his goodwill message, the Speaker of the House of Representatives (HOR), Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila declared that there will be no stable Democracy and sustainanable development in Nigeria if the local Government system of administration is not running effectively.
Democracy and Development, he insisted were primarily about the people and the government closest to the people is the local government council.
The constraints hampering effective government at the grassroots level, he went on, have manifested in people expecting states and the federal government to construct simple facilities like culverts and the evacuation of refuse.
Gbajabiamila said it was “time for all efforts to be channelled toward addressing the problems bedevilling the LG system in the country to make it more efficient and effective”.
The Speaker acknowledged that local government councils had been constrained by constitutional impediments which deny them administrative and political authonomy.
He said that the National Assembly is in the process of effecting amendments to the 1999 Constitution and assured that the HOR would do everything possible to ensure that the challenges of the third tier of government are adressed “once and for all”.
Gbajabiamila therefore charged the ALGON Assembly to come up with robost resolutions to guide the HOR in the constitution amendment to enhance local government administration in the country.
Said he, “The local government administrations in Nigeria are the closest to the people. They should be responsible for making decisions and providing services that ensure the quality of life for the Nigerian people.
“Until we fix local government administration in Nigeria, we will not be able to fully deliver on the promise of democratic governance in a way that allows us to achieve our country’s full potential.
“This is the most critical and most important tier of government because you are the ones that are in touch with the people of Nigeria, I thought I have to be here irrespective of my tight schedule”, he stated.
He said the day was a historic one and that the outcomes of the event should be remarkably made to reform the administration of the tier in the country.
“I was pleased to see that you have chosen as the theme of this year’s General Assembly ‘Strategic Positioning of Local Governments for the Future: A New Era.’ This is an important topic that I hope will allow the General Assembly to develop a strategy that will enable stakeholders across government and civil society to collaborate more effectively to achieve necessary and long-overdue reforms of local government administration in Nigeria”, he said.
On the poor performance of local government councils, the Speaker said, “We all know why this happens. That is why I say you should make the outcomes of this assembly rich. And we will be there in the National Assembly to assist you.”
“This is the time to ensure that the question of how to get our local governments working is at the centre of our national conversations about the future and promise of Nigeria.
“It is said that you cannot build something on nothing. If you don’t fix the local government administration, you will just go round and round.”
“Local government leaders must at all times strive towards a culture of service and the practice of excellence. You must respect the rule of law. Part of that means ensuring that the legislative arm of local government administration performs its separate functions without undue executive interference.
“For too long, we have avoided the hard conversations about our nation’s future. We cannot afford to do that anymore. I assure you all that the 9th House of Representatives will not waiver from our commitment to take whatever legislative actions are necessary to achieve the highest ambitions we have for Nigeria.
“I assure you also that we are ready to work with the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and all stakeholders to fix local government administration in Nigeria once and for all”, he stated.