By Chinedu Adonu
A group, Social Development Integrated Centre, SDIC, has urged Nigerians to engage their representatives at all levels to amend constitution and create a legislative structure for a truly independent local government system.
The group also called for a participatory governance and inclusive service delivery in all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.
Speaking during a press conference in Enugu, a senior programmes officer of the group, Prince Edegbue, said that a transparent local government system, backed by a well-defined legislative framework to manage its resources, would deliver the needed development at the grassroots.
Edegbu who regretted the shortcoming in the constitutional framework that guarantee the autonomy and fiscal independence of the local government, said that local government as the third tier of government was created to bring governance closer to the people at the local level as enshrined in 1999 constitution.
“This is a call for citizens to engage their elected representatives to amend the Constitution and create a legislative structure for a truly independent local government system divorced from the state. We need a participatory governance and inclusive delivery in all the local governments in Nigeria.
“Local Government is critical to the Democratic process because it is still the most effective tool for mobilizing people for local involvement and spreading democratic values. The new legislative framework should make provision that ensure the legislative and executive powers and functions of local government councils to guarantee full autonomy,” he said.
He continued, “It’s our duty to hold the public office holders accountable at all levels and particularly local government chairpersons to account for their stewardship in office to keep them on their toes and enshrine financial probity and effective service delivery for the social and economic development of the communities.
“Local Government authorities operate as appendages of the state government. Most times, the local government authorrities overlook accountability, thereby depriving the citizens the benefit of governance.
“The failure of the councils to use the enormous resources allocated to their respective local governments to spur community development leads to conclusion that the malaise in the local government development is caused by a lack transparency and public accountability fueled by the lack of autonomy,” he said.