By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
Lack of responsive and responsible administration have been observed as the bane of good governance at the local councils across Nigeria.
The observation was made by a political scientist, Dr. ‘Gbade Ojo, while delivering a lecture at a 2-day induction programme for the newly-appointed caretaker chairmen in the state, held at Premier Hotel, Ibadan.
Dr. Ojo noted that the greatest problem confronting all tiers of government in developing countries and encumbering development was lack of good governance, stressing that good governance must include accountability, legal framework and bureaucratic accountability.
Ojo, an Associate Professor of Political Science, in his lecture entitled: “Imperatives for Good Governance at the Local Government Level,” further pointed out that as a necessary condition for development, a system of good governance in a limited administrative sense would consist of a set of rules and institutions and a system of public administration that is open, transparent, efficient and accountable.
Describing local authorities as the closest to the grassroots, the political guru, who is the immediate-past Special Adviser on Political Matters to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, opined that without them government would be too remote to the people.
“Operators of the third tier of government need to be better attuned to the developmental utility of local councils so that meaningful development can reach the grassroots.
“The present comatose condition of local councils across the country is worrisome. If anything, good governance is completely absent at the grassroots level, most councils are as good as dead, knocked down by corruption, administrative inertia cum lack of innovation,” he averred.
Highlighting the challenges of local governments in the country, Dr. Ojo maintained that a corollary to corruption is the problem of inadequate finance, adding that the fundamental problem in Nigeria was that sufficient fund has not been allocated to the councils compared to the magnitude of functions devolved to them.
“To compound the financial problem facing the councils, most of them cannot mobilize Internally Generated Revenue. Virtually all of them rely on federal allocations, yet there are numerous avenues for internal revenue generation which remain untapped, especially in the urban councils,” he stated.
Dr. Ojo, therefore used the medium to give some tips on governance which were quick removal of corpses on roads in their respective local governments, refuse collection, grading of interior roads, opening up of rural communities for agricultural produce to get to the market, functional clinics, traffic gridlock in urban centres, efficient and effective Internally Generated Revenue collection.
Others were building public toilets and motor parks, participatory budgeting by taking cognizance of community needs, innovation in terms of partnering with foundations and NGOs that could help councils in the areas of education, health and social amenities, ensuring that state projects in their domains are well taken care of, aggressive collection of tenement rate, and effective usage of media of communication.
“You cannot do without effective communication. Work with print and electronic media along with social media. Do not disconnect with your people, attend ward meetings and update them, not only wards, also stakeholders in your council areas.
Be a good agent of the state government. Report quickly, water pipe burst, bad road portions. Ensure good record keeping; staff strength and finances. Beware of Civil Servants, they offer selfish advice. They know you have limited time to spend,” Ojo advised.