The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has joined the calls for the probe of diversion of local government funds by various state governments through the operation of the joint account by the two tiers of government.
CACOL in a release signed by its Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, on behalf of the Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, noted that “A major reason why majority of Nigerians still groan under this democratic dispensation is primarily because governance is hardly felt at the local government level.
“In all the 774 official local government authorities (LGAs) in the country, hardly could one see up to 20 LGAs that function so effectively in the provision of basic amenities of relief areas, like efficient cleaning of drainages and gutters, maintenance of neighbourhood markets, efficient refuse disposal mechanism, etc.
as you would expect in any modern and responsible society. And yet, local government administrative unit is supposed to bring governance closer to the people.
“Though the argument that in any true federation, the federating units are usually Federal Government and the component states, regions and territories, may not be far from the truth, the fact remains that local governments are also a creation of the constitution for ease of governance and accessibility to the people through the grassroots approach.
“In our own case, the 774 local government authorities were a creation of the successive military governments, which many believe, was done to suit a particular region and invariably smacks of lopsidedness and favouritism.
“This has consequently made many to insist that states should be allowed to create their own local government areas and jurisdictions according to their own convenience and affordability.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, for clarity sake, would not wish to dabble into the paucity or otherwise of this argument as every society is always an adjunct of its own reality in terms of existential reality and social evolution.
“We are, however, much concerned that of all the 36 states in the country, only nine (9) states have adhered to the 2017 National Assembly bill that forbids states turning local government areas in their jurisdiction into their mere appendages and rubberstamps through direct control of their finances.
This practice, we believe, does not augur well for delivery of democratic dividends at this level of governance and has done more harm to this civil rule than good.”
The CACOL Boss added, “As much as we agree that past experiences of a local government Councilor earning more than a University Professor or an LGA Chairman embezzling billions of Naira to the detriment of their constituencies, should never be reverted to,
we align with the clarion call that a workable and popular template must be evolved to make grassroots governance effective in a way that teachers and other service workers would not be unduly shortchanged.
“This should be in line with global best practices as obtained in other model federations, worldwide. We therefore, call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Presidency,
to immediately set machinery in motion towards probe of local government funds diversion and bring the culprits to book without further ado.”