ByÂ George Onah
Port Harcourtâ€”Â Â Rural dwellers in Nigeria would continue to be down-trodden, suffer lack andÂ deprivation if the Federal Government failed to increase the allocation to the third tier of government, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, has said.
â€œThe major problem the country is facing is the top-to-bottom approach of disbursing funds instead of from bottom-to-top. The local governments are financially handicapped yet we say the people are the most important, there is the need to reverse the system,â€ he said.
Amaechi, who met with members of the Committee on States and Local Government Affairs of the House of Representatives, in Port Harcourt, was of the view that â€œuntil we accept that the local governments are the foundation of this country and admit that they are financially handicapped to execute development projects for the people, the country will continue to decay.â€
He told the group, led by its chairman, Mr. Adedeji Omotayo Emmanuel, that as long as the country continued to maintain the top-to-bottom approach in the disbursement of funds, development will continue to elude those in the hinterland because the local governments entrusted with grassroots development are inadequately funded
Represented by his deputy, Mr. Tele Ikuru, the governor in realizing the arduous task of local governments in developing the grassroots, reasoned that his administration took over the payment of primary school teachersâ€™ salaries from the third tier of government to enable them focus on development.
He pointed out that â€œthis country needs to take a second look at the disbursement of revenue to the three tiers of governmentâ€.
He disclosed that the administration spends N1.2 billion on the payment of primary school teachersâ€™ salaries monthly, while the state University of Science and Technology has received N4 billion to enable it recapitalize itself, just as much attention was being paid to the health sector and construction of roads across the state.
â€œWe have taken out some burdens from local governments, so we ask them to sit up and key into what the state government is doing,â€ Governor Amaechi said
On his part, Mr. Adedeji Omotayo Emmanuel said they were in the state on an oversight function and have witnessed the plethora of changes that have taken place since their last visit to the state.
â€œWe have seen a plethora of changes, especially in the area of infrastructure. We have also seen peace pervading in Rivers State,â€ he added.
Calling for collaboration between his committee and states and local governments in order to ensure development at the grassroots, Emmanuel said â€œif the monies given to local governments are properly husbanded, it will eliminate crisis within the polity.â€