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Autonomy; The Right Approach To Save Local Government From Total Collapse

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This article highlights the problems faced with governance in Nigeria, especially in the grassroot, and suggest way forward.

Written by Abdulbaki Jatto, a seasoned writer, public speaker, and an advocate of good governance. From Okene, Nigeria.

Since my Primary school days, I learnt that there are three tires of government in Nigeria, which includes the federal government, the state government, and the local government. While advancing in my educational career, I was made to understand that all the tires of government has similar and key roles to play for the functionality and sustainability of our beloved country Nigeria.

Unfortunately in recent years, the leadership of LGAs across the federation are just figureheads, thereby making Grassroot governance to be directionless, clueless, and uninteresting.

From my observation, which many of you will quite agree with me, state governors are largely responsible for the underdevelopment and extreme poverty in Nigeria today, as most of them has greedily hijacked the local government sector, into their personal property—testing ground for regnancy—selecting whoever they like as LGA chairpersons. This is mischievous and anti-democratic.

In the past, we witnessed how leaders at local government level made healthy polices and executed several projects. A typical example is Late Sen. Salihu Ohize, one-time executive chairman of my LGA (Okene) whose administrative stride was remarkable. He achieved that with the IGR and allocation coming to Okene. Civil servants and pensioners were promptly receiving their entitlements.

The achievements of some LGA Chairpersons does years (1999 – 2007) supercede the so called leaders spearheading the affairs of local government today. In fact, not even some governors can boast of achieving that much.

The President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari made attempts to ensure that all 774 LGAs are autonomous, but most governors are strongly against this idea, as they felt that if implemented, it will threaten their inordinate and selfish ambition. There won’t be room to siphon LGA allocation again. There won’t be room to impose their loyalists and puppets as LGA chairpersons again.

The excessive power (i.e, immunity) vested on the governors has done more harm than good to Nigeria. It is high time the Federal Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and other relevant stakeholders go back to the drawing board and address this issue. If FG don’t dictate for state government on, then why can’t the state government authority allow LGAs to operate independently?

In the spirit of patriotism and selflessness, I call on concerned Nigerians at home and in diaspora to join me, and let’s push for the comprehensive implementation of Local Government Area Autonomy, as this will solve many of our problems as a nation, and fast track development across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

I have always be of the opinion that it is not just about electing President of this country and then go back to sleep, thinking that is an uhuru. We should also be cautious of the choice we make across all levels of the society, down to the grassroot, so that we won’t have many avaricious and incompetent Governors, Senators, HoR members, LGA Chairpersons, HoA members, or Ward councillors parading as leaders.

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