By Ifeanyi Ugwuadu
Towards a sustainableÂ Â grassroots developmentÂ Â in line with the federal governments Vision 20-20-20 initiative, the local governments in Nigeria have began moves to wrest financial autonomy from both the4 federal Government and the States.
Similarly, power devolution
will be on agenda as the three tiers of government dialogue on the challenges of grassroots participation in government programmes. This position was part of several proposals that local governments will be presenting to both to the states and federal government at a 2-day biannual dialogue on policies and strategies on local government administration jointly organized by the office of the Secretary of the Federation and Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
Themed Repositioning Local Government Administration in Meeting the Challenges of Vision 20-20-20, the dialogue is aimed at fashioning out an integration of federal governmentâ€™s strategic initiative with that of local governments in assisting grassroots people buy fully into and contribute towards the success of the programmes of government.
Chief executive officer of ALGON, Chief Chikwendu Udensi told journalists in Abuja Wednesday that financial autonomy is key to the success of Vision 20-20-20.Â He said it was important that all stakeholders understands the constitutional role assigned to local governments and empowers them to play it.
He was particularly peeved that the State governments have taken over the aspects of internal revenue generation assigned to local governments. But he stated that this role must be given back to the local governments so that key governmentâ€™s targets in Vision 20-20-20 will be met.
The ALGON CEO said the Federal Inland Revenue will be on hand to provide background information on alternative revenue generation for local governments instead of reliance on federal allocationsÂ in addition to providing insight into the roles of states and local authorities.
Udensi said it was improper for any one to think that monies allocated to local governments every year get to them as stated in the release. He explained that such funds never enter the coffers of local governments but are paid into a joint account owned by states and local authorities where several deductions are made by States before the balance is paid tom local administrations.
He believed there is no way the situation can be allowed to remain while government seriously tackles the problem of poverty in the rural areas and meeting its Millenium Development Goals.
â€œAs I speak to you, some local governments are unable to pay salaries of its employees due to the meager funds that get to themâ€ from the joint account with the States, he stated lamenting the poor state of local governments despite expectations that it would bring government nearer to the people.
Udensi said the dialogue was important to government, explaining that it was for the reason that the presidency is interested in proper articulation of policies to enable local governments play their role in developing the economic base of the country.