By Okey Muogbo
The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) has warned that all threats against full democratisation at the local government level in Nigeria must be eliminated for meaningful development in the country.
National President of ALGON, Hon Alabi Kolade David stated this in his message on Saturday on the occasion of this year’s Democracy day.
The message released by Obiora Orji, media aide to Hon David quoted the ALGON President to have said that existential threats against democratization at the local level have gathered so much momentum in recent times that
they must be resisted or allowed to continue at Nigerians’ peril.
According to Hon David, feelers gathered through the just concluded Zonal Public Hearing by the Association established that Democracy has become the legitimate demand of all local communities in Nigeria.
In his words, “today most of the countries of the world are in the process of
implementing political and administrative reforms aimed at decen- tralizing and strengthening their local governance.
“We all know that democracy is not an event but a complex and continuous process and that is why we must sincerely continue to advocate for a strong local governments/Councils.
“Indeed, this June 12 therefore makes it essential that we collectively weight the gains and losses if we can honestly develop our potentials and resources for growth.
“It is in this regard that this year’s event has been geared towards stock-taking, advocating for the promotion and development of
democracy at the local level, identify people’s capacity to manage development leveraging on our diversities to design appropriate systems to suit various peculiarities through the anticipated outcome of the proposed alterations.”
Alabi also noted that his administration working in concert with ALGON NEC, BOT and Management are convinced that sustainable development in both strong and in weak economies can only be rescued if local government is empowered to play its role
based on recognized principles of participation and transparency
in a manner that conforms to basic human rights.
Such according to him is gaining attention from most Nigerians.
It will be recalled that there have been several clamour for either enactment or implementation of efficient local government laws as captured in Sections 7, 163, 163/5 of the 1999 Constitution as (Amended), of which even the framers of the constitution now realize that it is not a cookbook with standard recipes for success in Nigeria as it were.
For instance fragmented local governments tenure don’t always lead to productivity which is part of the problem.
ALGON is of the strong opinion that there is a clearly held truth that unfortunately, the constitutional boundary established decades ago is presently hurting the system and needs urgent redress.
Earlier the Chairman Board of Trustees of ALGON, Hon Odunayo Ategbero observed that: “it is a pity that some states are having 1 year, 2 years and even six months tenure, all kinds of leadership nomenclature interim, Caretaker or what have you for their local governments.
The BOT Chairman noted that in states where such is practiced, development has been hindered as almost nobody holds them accountable”.
It has been in the national conversation that Nigeria’s political landscape has remained stubbornly resistant to change, a situation whereby such system that would have helped to overcome the yearning gaps between the rich and poor has remained unaddressed thereby creating terrible boundaries.
Also in his Democracy day message, the Deputy National President of ALGON, Hon, Shehu Marshal Jega stated that Nigeria needs a strong system at the local councils to strongly resist hunger, unemployment, disease, de-escalate unrest, bandictry and promote, rural governance through industrialization, Development partnership, promote peace, ensure the ennabling environment for ease of doing business, guarantee security through community policing, vigilantes and to make education work.
Other benefits according to him are: to have functional local/magistrate courts for prompt àdministration of criminal justice and jurisprudence, promote peace through youth engagement, provide quality learning and teachers for foundatinal impact, widen civic engagement and expand advocacy for law enforcement.
He also stated thay tax compliance, oversight the traditional rulers and faith based entities-engagement will effectively make the system work through other activities that can shore up IGR profile for meeting the huge responsibilities heaped on the Local Governments/Councils as enshrined in the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution as (Amended), and so on, he stated.
Lending her Motherly voice, the Director-General of ALGON, Hajiya Binta Adamu Bello called for refocusing on the things that matter to people and especially through regularization of elections in all the states to entrench
democratically elected Chairmen who will help to create more responsive leadership at the rural levels.
It was a joint opinion of the Chief of Staff to the ALGON National President, Hon Itiako Ikpokpo, and the ALGON National Legal Adviser, Hon Taofiq, National Publicity Secretary Hon Solomon Onah and others member of the NEC that the June 12 auspicious day is strategic to encourage all statesmen and founding fathers to address Local Governments’ problems which could be solved by simple compliance with the long yearnings of the people through a bottom up development approach for virile local governments system that will impact all including providing an atmosphere of strong legislative functions and access to funds, increase checks, balances, provide due diligence, encourage key performance indicators which have all kept the system on its knees.
They collectively believed that the the June 12 will offer another important time to emphasize that the present Nigeria Constitution is a recipe for unresponsive governance, which has been creating room for perpetuity of dysfunctional leadership without ample time to plan or tackle development needs squarely.