When anything goes wrong in Nigeria, people are quick to point accusing fingers at the president. They demand he fix this problem or clean up that mess. A strawman, visible enough for a bullseye but too far removed from the scene to challenge accusers. A convenient scapegoat. Yet, Nigeria is not a one-party state nor a dictatorship (knock on wood). So, why do we bypass wards, local councils, state governments, and our legislators to attack the president? Why not accuse local government chairmen and councilors of negligence, ineptitude, and culpability particularly in crises occurring in their areas? Why do we not hold them responsible?
According to Nigeria’s Constitution, the main functions of a local government council are to:
- Make recommendations to the State commission on economic planning and development of the state;
- Collect rates, radio, and television licenses;
- Establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute or infirm;
- Licensing of bicycles, trucks, (other than mechanically propelled trucks), canoes, wheel barrows, and carts;
- Establishment, maintenance, and regulation of markets, motor parks, and public conveniences;
- Construction and maintenance of roads, streets, drains, and other public highways, parks, and open spaces;
- Provision and maintenance of public transportation and refuse disposal; etc.
So, whose fault is it when the schools are broken down, roads flood, and refuse take over neighborhoods? Who is responsible for ensuring the people have a decent standard of living in a peaceful environment?
Up close and personal, Local Government Councils are nothing more than cesspools of nepotism where appointments to chairmen are awarded to a governor’s sycophants. Yet, we continue to throw rocks at the president. Who monitors local government spending? Who reviews their accomplishments especially in those areas where the chair position is a nonsensical 2-year term? In two years, the occupant only has time to recoup his costs from his campaign! The lack of scrutiny of this level of government, allows egregious abuses of power and authority whereas occupants do whatever they please for their short-term in the vault.
Recently, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, opined that states should have more opportunities to develop themselves. For this to happen, local governments must deliver on their responsibilities. They are the closest to the people yet in most cases, the least involved in the development of their constituents.
Let’s have charity begin at home. Ask your local government chair, what s/he has done for you lately.