Delta ALGON chairman absolves state, blames FG for councils’ woes
The Delta State Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Itiako Ikpokpo has said the country’s disparate revenue sharing formula was responsible for the pathetic financial state of the local councils.
Ikpokpo, who is also Chairman of Isoko South council, said this in Asaba at the weekend and lamented that the greatest challenge facing the third tier of government was the paltry 20 per cent share of federal allocation the councils receive.
He noted that the allocation to the local governments was inadequate to meet their first line charge, which is the payment of salaries not to talk of provision of basic social amenities at the grassroots level.
He was reacting to calls for local council autonomy, arguing that autonomy would not achieve the desired results without adequate revenue adjustment and constitutional amendment towards reducing the federal powers.
Ikpokpo pointed out that while he could not speak for other states, local governments in Delta were not under undue influence from the state, adding that the state government was also not involved in pilfering council funds as may be the case in other states.
“The Federal Government’s excessive, overloaded, overlapping and domineering posture in revenue allocation and function is the greatest threat to the third tier of government in the country.
“To justify its bogus 56 per cent share of the country’s revenue, the Federal Government has taken over all aspects of governance and services, including rural health care, birth registration and markets, where it lacked the essential grasp and touch,” he stated.
He wondered why, for instance, a Minister in Abuja should dictate where to site a primary health centre in a community or a Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) project in Isoko South.
He argued that over 40 per cent of roads in the country were within local governments, yet they are referred to as federal or state roads.
“Several core functions and internal revenue heads of the local governments have been hijacked by the overbearing Federal Government owing to its excessive powers and domineering attitude.
“They now collect monies for birth registration through the Nigeria Population Commission (NPC) even in our rural health centres, leaving the local governments with collection of bicycle levies.
“The question is, are people still riding bicycles? Ikpokpo queried.
He described the arrangement in which Federal Government takes 56 per cent revenue share and gives the 774 councils put together a paltry 20 per cent as archaic and unsustainable.
This, he noted, explains the near collapse of all sectors of the economy insisting that until a conscious effort was made to rejig the local government system in the areas of funding and functions, the nation’s yearning for desired growth and development would remain elusive.
He, therefore, appealed to the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and all other stakeholders to join hands with ALGON in its quest for urgent fiscal restructuring and devolution of the powers of the Federal Government as the only solution to the continued existence of the local government system in the country.
No comments yet