Crippling Local Government Administration In Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Crippling Local Government Administration In Nigeria

Samuel Ortom
Posted: Sep 21, 2016 at 3:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Augustine Adah


Lagos – Local government administration was created with the intention of bringing government nearer to the people. It is supposed to be the closet administration to the people at the grass root who may be far from government at the state and federal levels. However, this lofty idea has not been realised due to the inability of state governors to ensure a survival of democratic system of government at the council level.

Though some state governors have through the support of   state houses of assembly has amended the law to reduce or extend the tenure of local government administration, elections are not conducted as when due.

Some states have not conducted local government election in the past 10 years despite the provision that election into local government in such state would hold within an interval of three years.  Some governors blamed the inability to conduct local government as at when due to high cost of conducting such election.

For example, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State last June, announced the postponement of local government election in the state because of the cost involved. He said, “The Benue State Independent Electoral Commission gave me a bill of N1.5bn to conduct election into the 23 LGs. Where will I get such money from when I have not even paid salary of L.G. workers?

“In fact, I do not have money to conduct L.G. elections now. The local government system is supposed to provide 60 per cent of that money needed for the election but they don’t have.”

Comrade Osita Obi is the Co-ordinator, Movement for the Conduct of Local Government Elections in Anambra State. In a recent interview with some journalists in Anambra State expressed disappointment that there is no democratically elected government in Anambra State since the return of democracy in 1999.

According to Obi “In Anambra State, the local gov ernment system does not function; the last local government election was held during the military era, which the then Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju inherited.” Obi explained further that successive administration in the state failed to conduct election into local government councils which is meant to deepen democracy despite announcing dates for such election.

Lagos which used to be an a leading light when it comes to democratically elected local government administration in the country has dropped that position and has joined  the comity of states which has failed to conduct election in the council areas.

When the last elected local government administration was dissolved after the expiration of their tenure in October 2014, many people did not anticipate that two years after, the administration of local government in the state would continue to be under the control of sole administrators.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has accused the APC led government in the state of not showing interest in conducting local government election. The party which described the practice of Executive Secretaries and Sole Administrators to run the affairs at the local government level as undemocratic claimed the party is using the unconstitutional means as way of escaping from defeat it might likely suffer in the conduct of the election.

The appointment of Executive Secretaries to run local government affairs by the last administration in Lagos State was challenged by the National Conscience Party (NCP) in court which the government appealed against the judgment which was given in favour of NCP.  From every indication there is no indication that the state government is prepared to conduct the election before 2017 as no date has been fixed for the conduct of the election yet.

Observers believed that the appointment of sole administrators to take charge of administration in the 57 local council and local council development areas in June by Governor Akinwumi Ambode was intended to compensate political elders in the state and there is no way the administrators would be removed without spending a minimum of six months in office. The inability of Lagos State Independent Commission (LASIEC) to yet announce the date of the election, is an indication that those who are anxious to see a democratically elected local government administration in the may have to wait a little longer.

The specify that the electoral body should give 90 days’ notification for the conduct of the election to stakeholders, but with barely 102 days to the end of the year,  there is apprehension that the election may be shifted to first quarter of 2017.

When Independent contacted LASIEC, Mr. Oladapo Olatunde, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the commission confirmed that no date has been fixed for the local government election in the state yet. He said, “For now, we have not fixed any date for the election once that is done, we would let you know.”

Comrade Toyin Raheem who is a chairmanship aspirant for Agege Local Council Development Area (LCDA) told Independent that apart from NCP which took Lagos State government to court over  refusal to conduct council poll,  National Coalition for Good Governance, a non governmental organisation has perfected every necessary plan to go to court and  challenge the government on its refusal to conduct local government election in the state.

Raheem further disclosed that the coalition would also join the Revenue Mobilisation And Physical Allocation Committee in the suit demanding for the stoppage of allocation to local council areas without a democratically elected leaders.
He expressed fear that unless the stakeholders begin to engage the government, the illegality would.  He said, “I wonder why state governors who did not want interference from the federal government in the administration of the state would continue to strangulate administration at council areas.”
In Abia State there is doubt that the local government election slated for December 17 this year may not hold. Judging by complaints of lack of funds by state governors, observers believe that the December 17 date was fixed to wave off criticism and would be shifted before the date.
A member of opposition party in the state who did not want his name mentioned in the press told Independent that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu want people to believe that he is committed to installing democracy at the local government level, but it is contrary.
He said, “How do you expect a governor who has not been able to pay salaries for over six months now to now tell he would conduct election few days to Christmas and you will believe him?”
Independent gathered that the last local government election was conducted in Abia State about eight years ago.
While some state governors would not want to conduct local government elections especially where the presence of opposition parties seem to be a threat,  the few ones that conduct the election does so with the result  of the election showing  the ruling winning almost the whole chairmanship positions.