A university don, Dr. ‘Gbade Ojo, has said for an effective grassroots development, there was the need for local government reforms for the third tier of government in the country to be autonomous, adding that local government administration should be devoid of states governments’ manipulating powers.
Ojo made the remark in Ibadan while delivering a keynote address at the 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM), organized by the Institute of Strategic Management, Nigeria, Oyo State chapter.
The AGM, with the theme: “Value Innovation: Instilling Local Initiatives Through Strategic Leadership,” held at the Ibadan Business School, Bodija, Ibadan, had in attendance notable political office holders, comprising representatives of political parties and other dignitaries.
Speaking on the tips for running a good local government administration, Dr. Ojo pointed out that it was a well known fact that in federations, the local authorities are the closest to the grassroots, stating that without them, government would be too remote to the people.
Highlighting the challenges of local administration in the country, the don observed that part of the bottle-necks of local governments in Nigeria was lack of good governance.
“In a nutshell, the attributes of good governance includes accountability based on the notion of popular sovereignty and public choice; a legal framework that guarantees the rule of law and due process, popular participation in decision-making processes based on freedom of association and expression, and bureaucratic accountability based on impersonality of office, uniform application of rules and rationality of organizational structure.”
As a necessary condition for development, Ojo, who is currently an Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Ilorin, averred that a system of good government in a limited administrative sense would consist of a set of rules and institutions (that is, a legal framework for development) and a system of public administration that is open, transparent, efficient and accountable, stressing that such system would constitute the essential engine of economic development and democratic sustainability in a “market friendly” development strategy.
As a panacea to effective local government administration, Dr. Ojo opined that: “As recommended by the Presidential Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, the position of all the local government councils in the federation is that local governments should emerge as the creation of the constitution in order to give them full-fledged autonomy.”
He added: “The provision in section 7(1) of the constitution which guarantees a system of democratically elected councils is seen as achieving that objective. But the same subsection (1) goes further to empower the state House of Assembly to make laws to ensure their existence by providing for their establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.
“This is seen as detracting from the desired constitutionally guaranteed autonomy. By the existing provision, it is argued that local governments have been reduced to mere administrative appendages of states governments with unpleasant consequences as current experience has shown even if they are funded from the federation account. That is the dilemma of local government reforms in Nigeria.”