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Governors’ failure at local government level




SIR: The Punch of August 7, 2015 reported  Governor  Abdul Yari of Zamfara State  as saying that no governor has the power or constitutional right to touch local  government funds. He was reported to have made the statement while  discussing  with President Muhammadu Buhari.
With due  respect to Governor Abdul Yari, our  governors have always been looting local government funds for years. This has been the order of the day since May 1999 when the current democratic dispensation took off. It is because of this culture of looting that we have not experienced meaningful development in most of the rural areas.

I  was once at a function with a visiting state governor in London  Hilton Hotel a few years  back. The said visiting Governor  had come to present the wonderful work  being done in his  state  capital. I asked him politely if he was elected  by voters in his state to be the Governor of the  capital or that  of the whole  state.  One lady in the audience yelled that I had spoken for the majority, as there was virtually nothing to show for development  outside  the  state capital. The embarrassed governor responded by asking me when last I visited the state, to which I replied that I had just returned from a village in his state  for a  charity project I was involved with. He was quiet.

Chief Richard Akinjide, a prominent lawyer and politician from Ibadan,  was  quoted  recently in The Nigerian  Tribune  as having said that Nigerian governors were thieves  who have robbed  their various states only to run for cover in Abuja. After they have performed woefully in their states they run to Abuja to be senators, as most of them can hardly survive outside politics. Of course, the electorate is to blame for this.

Most governors in Nigeria deliberately run down the third tier of government by appointing their stooges as care-taker local  government chairmen. This practice makes it a lot easier for them to steal local government  funds  without  much  challenge. This explains why we have not experienced meaningful development at the grassroots in 16 years of so-called democracy. There would be less rush to Abuja if the rural areas were not precluded from the good things of life – jobs, health facilities, supply of electricity, good roads, etc. I can state emphatically that even development in the United Kingdom is one reason why most of its citizens are contented with their places of abode. Hopefully, the leadership of President Buhari will take us in the right direction

• Olayinka Oduwaiye, Catford London, UK

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