By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
A group has ade a patriotic call to return Local Government autonomy to the front-burner across the federation, saying that Nigeria, is in dire straits owing to debilitating leadership styles of successive administrations at all tiers of government.
The forthcoming general elections in 2023 is an opportunity for Nigerians to decide most of their political leaders and should not be toyed with, urging gubernatorial and legislative candidates to assured the people that local governments autonomy would be returned to the system next year.
Convener, Media Professionals For Good Governance (MPGG), Comrade Wonah Odey, in a statement on Friday, said the local government councils are the closest to the majority of Nigerians at the grassroots and that more Nigerians live in rural settlements than urban areas and cities.
According to Comrade Odey, development experts have roundly concluded that genuine and faster developments stems from a working local government system, or any other name by which grassroots governance is called.
The Media Professionals for Good Governance, emphasized that it was imperative to make a sincere intervention in the run up to the 2023 general elections to achieve the autonomy for the third tier of government.
He regreeted that, Nigeria’s local government system has not lived up to expectations, whether by default or deliberate machinations and manipulations, adding, “one of these is the obvious stranglehold on the system by State Governors who represent the second and higher tier of government.”
The MPGG urged their other partners and stakeholders to demand that candidates, especially gubernatorial, be made to specify their stance, and make concrete, firm promises regarding local government autonomy.
“We believe that even if the most credible elections are conducted in 2023, the leaders that will emerge may be constrained by the institutional bottlenecks that have clogged the wheel of national development.
“One of these bottlenecks, as have been debated and agreed upon at several fora, is the lack of autonomy for the local government councils, which constitute the third tier of government in Nigeria.
“Their most basic needs are therefore, supposed to be sought for, or impacted at the local government level; year-long efforts by concerned stakeholders to reverse the situation, and free the local government from the grip of State Governors, have been less than successful.
“We therefore, advocate for more and stringent efforts like we are doing now, to put local government autonomy on the front-burner of national discourse as the politicians and office seekers strut round the country seeking votes ahead of the 2023 elections.
“Incidentally, the bulk of the votes that will get them elected will come from the grassroots, so, while we are talking to the politicians and putting them on their toes, we should consider the several recommendations put forward severally to breath more life into the local governments.
“State and National Assembly members and candidates, cannot be left out of this crusade. Their campaigns and public outings should not be made complete without questions and issues of local government autonomy tabled, addressed and tackled.
“This has not been observed to be happening so far. Yet, it is our opinion that collective efforts in this regard will lay a good path to faster, broader development of our nation,” it explained.
The group called on political rights crusaders, media partners, human rights groups, other civil society organisations, and serving and aspiring political office holders to see the quest for local government autonomy as a national duty, a patriotic assignment and a legacy worth leaving for future generations.