Stakeholders canvass urgent local govt reforms
Ogbeh, Bamigbetan Differ On State Of councils
If the local government system in the country is not urgently reformed, the dream of the present administration to develop rural areas, to meet the needs and aspiration of the people at the grassroots would never be realised.
The Minister of agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, who stated this during the week in Abeokuta, Ogun State, noted that the third-tier of government is already moribund and has failed to justify the purpose of its creation as an arm of government.
While noting that the system was put in place in 1976 during the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo, he advised that if the system is not working, it should either be reviewed or reformed, adding that failure to do so, might hamper rural development across the country.
“Development cannot go far if we do not involve the rural areas, and the task of the rural people in Agriculture will be more difficult. Look at the incidence of insurgents in the North; I gave a warning on it 16 years ago in Kaduna, I told them that violence is coming, look at the aftermath of what happened. To avert violence, we need to take care of the young people as soon as possible, so that they don’t take care of us in a violent manner.
“When you go to church in the village, look into the offering bag, you’ll discover that its N5 and N10 notes that you’ll see, that’s what they can offer, currency that can only buy biscuits. This shows the level of poverty among the people because they were neglected. These are the people we go to during elections to induce them with noodles, maggies and other things, just to canvass their votes but at the end we neglect them, to wallow in abject poverty,” he said.
However, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Communication and Community Affairs, a former council chairman, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, told The Guardian on phone that the major problem confronting councils is the issue of revenue allocation formula that is skewed against the third-tier of government. He added that despite being the closest to the citizens, it has the least allocation.
Bamigbetan also identified years of dictatorship and non-payment of rates by citizens to the councils’ purse as other challenges that are responsible for their poor service delivery.
“The president should increase the revenue sharing formula of the three-tiers, especially, local government, for it to stand on its own. The percentage accruing to the Federal Government should be reduced and the state and councils to get larger shares. That is the major area the president needs to focus on to reposition local government because everything boils down to funding.”