‘How to boost local councils to impact communities’
A group, Social Development Integrated Centre, has called for the abolition of State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), even as it advocated the empowerment of local councils to deliver dividends of democracy to people.
It blamed the failure of local councils at providing dividends of democracy on state governors, who have “annexed and tied elected council officials to their apron strings”.
It said corruption, scarcity of human capital, poor funding, opaque fiscal disclosure and poor resource management are also responsible for the inability of local councils to provide good service delivery to their communities.
Executive Director of Social Development Integrated Centre, Prince Edegbue, who spoke through Mrs. Tina Odunna during a press conference in Asaba at the weekend, said council officials would not be able to perform better unless there is change in the system.
He said: “It is only when the local council system is truly independent that elected council officials can be accountable to people at the grassroots.”
He said local council autonomy would ensure dividends of democracy are brought closer to the people.
He said: “We strongly believe that a transparent local government system, backed by a well-defined legislative framework to manage its resources, subject only to the wish of the people, will deliver the needed development.
“It is when we have independent local councils that people can confidently engage the councils’ authorities to account for resources they were elected to manage on behalf of the people
“But when the resources are not judiciously utilised to spur community development, then there is a big problem, which of course is caused by lack of transparency and public accountability, fueled by lack of autonomy,” he said.
He added: “Most local council administrations are run like private businesses, cloaked in secrecy and opacity. Budgets and other fiscal papers are hardly available and the budgeting process is not transparent.”