By Douglas Ogbankwa, Esq.
I have followed with avid attention the enthralling narrative on the restructuring of Nigeria and I can say there seems to be divergence on all fronts on the issue.This write up seeks to highlight ,some of the aspects of local government system that requires regurgitation.
I must commend the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for their uncommon courage in accepting actual autonomy for local governments and and giving INEC the powers, to conduct local government elections. This will preclude the current practice of local governments being mere agencies of state governments.
The administration, control and financial autonomy of local governments should be made autonomous. In this Light, I call for the scrapping of the Ministries of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters! Chieftaincy Matters are actually local Issues that should be left to the exclusive purview,of Local Government Councils! The structure of political parties should be made functional, at local government level, the current practice where the LGA Exco of parties are now mere list compiling bodies, should be jettisoned. This is to allow local politics to thrive.In this vein, the current vigilante culture should be harnessed to provide local intelligence for the national police.
There should be a template to handle local issues. Local Issues requires local Knowledge. There must be an arrangement where it will no longer be possible to set up caretaker committees or make civil servants to act as chairmen. The local government cycle must be continuous and ascertainable to encourage sustainable development and engender inclusiveness in our polity.
There should be in this regard, a fixed tenure of office that cannot be interfered with by the current executive arbitrariness of the Governors. Governors therefore should be stopped by legislation from dismissing local government chairmen as if they were their employees or servants.
The constitutional jnroad provided for the removal LG Chairmen which is the impeachment of same by the representatives of the People — the Councillors, should be strengthened by legislation and made exclusive. Local politics is used as a training ground for future state and national leaders, we should let it thrive. We should therefore, let local people drive local politics and not vice versa. We must now stop the State-Local Governments Joint Accounts. It has been in some cases, an instrument of monumental fraud and a reason for the shameful electoral fraud perpetuated at that level. The Houses of Assembly should stop being rubber stamps. Ambition is what drives the inability of the Houses to function optimally. Actually, it is in their best interest to so function. The “I must be a Speaker Syndrome”, must be jettisoned, to provide for Houses of Assembly that can protect our local government structure , irrespective of whose ox is gored.