Making Local Government work. Tribune

In many states, the governors have not conducted local government election in the last six years. Subterfuge has been invented to put the elections on hold.Local governments in many states are run like liaison offices of the state governors where every Dick and Harry is made a local government chairman.

Peanuts are given to the local governments out of the millions of naira due to them from federal allocations. The money is meant to pay salaries and emoluments of the local government staff and to actualise developmental work, which unfortunately is put on hold.

According to a report emanating from the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), 23 states owe local government staff backlog of salaries. The creation of Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) in many states has not helped matters because it has rendered the system comatose.

This is because at the designated seats of the LCDAs, signposts are visible, but there are no workers in sight.

All development is concentrated in the state capitals and few towns. Rural area have been cut off from development. In the few areas, including the state capitals, where developmental projects are ongoing, they are more or less misplaced priorities because the governors determine what is good for all parts of the state and never carry people along in their developmental strides.

One fears that if state police is established as former president Ibrahim Babangida advocated recently, some governors who have become demigods in their states and intolerant of dissenting voices would use the police to hound the opposition out of their states.

I join my voice to those of the protagonists of restructuring of Nigeria states and polity. However, the exercise should focus more on how to strengthen our local governments and make them autonomous institutions.

If possible, states should be phased out and local governments retained as the second tier of the government.

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