A former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye and Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, have stressed the need for funds to be directly allocated to local councils in Nigeria, in-line with the newly introduced Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU regulations, saying it would make the local government councils more viable and have the capacity to pay primary school teachers salaries, staff salaries as well as carry out development projects.
The duo made the assertion in Abuja, when Chairman of Warri South Local Government Area, Dr Michael Tidi and few of his colleagues across the country, received the 2019 Rootswatch Distinguished Local Government Chairmen Merit Award.
While the former Deputy Governor, advised council chairmen to live among people in their council areas to know their challenges and devise ways of addressing them, Mrs Erewa emphasised the need for local councils as the third tier of government to get their allocations directly from FAAC.
Earlier in an address, the Editor-in-Chief of Rootswatch Magazine and National Coordinator of Rootswatch Distinguished Local Government Chairmen Merit Award, Mr Bayode Ojo, said: The awardees have truly impacted positively on their council areas and therefore worthy of the honour.
eighteen years ago, as part of the core mandate of repositioning local government for service delivery through a reward system.
According to him, Rootswatch award has cut a niche for itself by ensuring that processes leading to the choice of winners are credible by ensuring that members of the public who are the direct beneficiaries of the stewardship of the council chairmen are involved in the rigorous screening processes, from nomination in response to advertisements in National Dailies as well as Electronic Media.
“Let me use this opportunity to appreciate the leadership of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, Senate and House of Representatives Committee on States and Local Government Affairs for their support to our organization over the years.
I want to end this address by commending the bold effort of President Muhammadu Buhari and the newly inaugurated Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU in the move at liberating the local government through the recently released guidelines aimed at halting the continuous pillage of cash allocated to local government by the state governments. Financial autonomy is a panacea to problem militating against accelerated development at the grassroots.
We also enjoin the local government administrators not to abuse this opportunity when the autonomy is fully operational”, Mr Ojo emphasized.
Achievements of Dr. Tidi led administration in the last one year and five months that informed the award include, but not limited to the following: Installation of CCTV Camera and Light-Fittings at the Warri South Council Main Secretariat, Warri, refurbishing of Patrol Van for the Police at ‘A’ Division, Warri, expansive/Daily Environmental Sanitation activities on both Warri City Centre and the Riverine Areas of the Local Government Area, committing huge resources on Peace Building and Engagement with Security Agencies in the Local Government Area, servicing traditional institutions in the Local Government Area via robust engagement, historic takeover of Ogbe-Ijoh Market, Warri, after several years of business activities in the market premises, procurement of Waste Disposal Truck, payment of inherited staff salary arrears of several months, donations to enhance the welfare of inmates at Warri Prison as well as ensuring adequate provision of drugs and utilities to health centres within the Local Government Area.
On efforts to diversify the council’s revenue, Dr. Tidi’s administration is in partnership with Ugbo-Olaja Integrated Farms along Warri River, to cultivate a farm settlement, situated in over 6 hectares of land. The essence is to create job opportunities.