Home Opinion Adebo Ogundoyin’s Faux Pas On L.G Autonomy Is Shocking! | Ademola ‘Bablow’...

Adebo Ogundoyin’s Faux Pas On L.G Autonomy Is Shocking! | Ademola ‘Bablow’ Babalola

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It’s a popular belief that the development of any nation in the world starts right from the basic level. According to research, no nation can confidently boast of accelerated advancement without the impact of the government at the lowest level. The challenge, as we witness today, facing growth and development in Nigeria is how to harness the abundant resources, through the government at the local level, to develop society and make life meaningful for millions of Nigerians, most especially the masses who form the main part of the country.

Unquestionably, a well organized nation hardly fail to appreciate the importance of local administration for they understand that local council mostly determines the success of any government at the top. Apart from being in close proximity to people at the grassroots, local government breaks the barriers that normally stand in the way of development; perhaps the reason Nigerian Constitution creates a space for the third tier of government after federal and state government – the first and second tiers respectively.

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If local government councils are seen as viable instruments for development and for delivery of social services to the people as a result of their closeness and proximity to the grassroots, I cannot imagine why it’s so difficult to allow them to enjoy full autonomy. I do not see the reason  local government councils cannot operate within their domains without any interference from the state governors. How do we expect a separate section of government to function creditably when it isn’t administratively independent and financially liberated?
Obviously one of the reasons the people in the community and those in remote areas have little or no access to adequate standard of living is the wide gap that separate them from both the state and the federal government. There is no gainsaying the bureaucratic hussles people at the grassroots normally go through when there is a need to make their demands known to state government serves as a major hindrance that obstruct them to have access to some basic amenities, and it’s a reason the people in the rural areas are yet to enjoy the dividends of democracy in Nigeria. In my view, the above are enough to take the issue of LG autonomy seriously? They are proofs that point to the fact that local government should be made to function without interference or opposition from any angle.
The debate on the autonomy for the 774 local government councils across Nigeria has been the leading issue for quite a long time. Why it’s taking eternity to resolve the issue is what many are yet to understand. Many Nigerians believe that the independence of the local administration, if allow to survive, will definitely go a long way to solve many problems that millions of Nigerians, most especially people at the grassroots, are facing at the moment. This is exactly the reason people are anxious to welcome the existence of the local government freedom from the shackles of the state government.
Recently, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on behalf of the Federal Government, brought the issue of the LG autonomy that has been taken for granted for quite some times back to the fore. Fagbemi has approached the Supreme Court with a suit seeking to force governors of the 36 states to grant full autonomy to the local government in their respective states.
In the suit, the Attorney General prayed the apex court to issue “an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government chairmen.” He further urged the court to make an order that funds standing to the credit of local government from the Federal Account should be paid directly to the local government rather than through the state government. The justice minister also prayed for “an order of injunction retraining the governors, their agents and privies from receiving, spending or tampering with funds released from the Federation Account for the benefits of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place in the states.”
Meanwhile many Nigerians including the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees hailed the move by the Federal Government but it’s unfortunate to realize that there are still some forces, notably people at places of authority, who still kick against the move. The most painful opposing views are the ones that are being propagated by those who represent the same people the autonomy is stood to benefit.
I was totally dumbfounded when I read in the news, the argument submitted by the speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, to condemn the suit initiated by the Federal Government against the 36 state governors over the LG autonomy.
Ogundoyin, in a national discourse on Nigeria’s security challenges and good governance at the local government levels, opined that granting financial autonomy to local government would engender massive corruption at the local level. He stated further that he believed the state might not allow local government to have administrative and financial autonomy because of the fear that the federal government might begin to use the local government against the state governors.
The speaker was of the opinion that the reasons he stated above to oppose the autonomy of the local government were weightier than the chains that are being used by the governors to fasten the wrists and ankles of the local government chairmen. He believed that his reasons for standing against the autonomy were more important to take seriously than the dividends of democracy people at the grassroots were deprived of. He believed that the wide gap between the state/federal government and the people at the local level was immaterial. To the speaker, It’s unnecessary if government is far away from people.
As a speaker who wanted people to believe that his major concern was to make laws that improve the living conditions of his constituents, Ogundoyin was expected to be more concerned about the welfares of the people than his opposition to the LG autonomy. The benefits the people he represents in the Oyo state House of Assembly will enjoy if government is brought closer to them was expected to be Ogundoyin’s agitation, but it’s unfortunate that those whom people believe will be their voices are the ones speaking against their, desires. Of course those who stand against local government autonomy are all out to present flimsy reasons to obstruct the move for local government to function independently.
Talking about the reasons Ogundoyin presented to defend his argument, I do not think that those reasons were more relevant and of great significance than the reasons for total liberation of the local government. If massive corruption, according to the speaker, is the reason the LG autonomy should not be allowed to exist, I wonder why Ogundoyin is yet to come out to clamour for an end to the state government over the same massive corruption that has crippled almost all the states in Nigeria. I wonder why the state government is still functioning in the midst of the ceaseless corruption. Is there no massive corruption in the local government even now that the governors interfere in their affairs? It’s even believed that the reason no local government chairman is yet to be held responsible for mismanagement of funds is that their allocations are not directly given to them. How can they be held accountable when they aren’t the direct receivers of the allocations?
Ogundoyin, in another argument to speak against the autonomy, believed that the LG autonomy would grant federal government the power to use local government chairmen against the governors. What a trivial justification! Isn’t it appropriate to challenge the speaker to clearly state in what way it’s possible for the FG to use the heads of local councils against the governors? How many times had the FG used the senators and members of House of Representatives of the 36 states against  their governors?
Prior to the time that the speaker made these submissions, I assumed he would be one of the advocates who would continue to speak in favour of the autonomy for local government, but it was disheartening to hear him agitating against it, the autonomy. I’m of the opinion that if Ogundoyin knew the kind and amiable comments the history would make about him as one of the speakers whose tenure witnessed the signing into law the LG autonomy, he would have been more careful about his speech against the local government autonomy.
Ademola ‘Bablow’ Babalola
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