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Local Govt autonomy: Soludo’s indifference and Sen. Ubah’s support

By Ezeagu Jude Izuchukwu


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It’s regrettable that the local government system which is supposed to be the third tier of government in a federal system of government being practiced today in Nigeria is in comatose except for few states that have kept it functional.

The local government is the government near the grassroots. Like the American system where it’s likened to a county, it serves the people purposefully because it’s meant to be accountable to the people.

But in Nigeria today, the local government system nearly does not exist because of the strangulation of the state governors who swore never to make it work and serve the purpose it was created.

Local government autonomy refers to the ability of local governments to have control over their own affairs, including financial management and decision-making processes, without interference from state governments.

It is seen as a way to enhance grassroots development and ensure effective governance at the local level.

The issue of local government autonomy resurrected again at the floor of the Senate on Wednesday May 15th, where the Nigerian Senate called on the president and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to, as a matter of urgency, halts the activities of state governors who engage in pilfering the funds designed for local government.

The resolution of the senate was sequel to a motion titled; “Call on the president and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to resuscitate the local government system in Nigeria“. The motion was sponsored by Senator Suleiman Kawu, NNPP, Kano South.

Senator Kawu said, inter alia: “The Senate notes that in the tapestry of Nigeria’s governance system, local governments are meant to be threads weaving development close to the grassroots.

“Envisioned as the closest tier of administration to the people, they hold the potential to address local needs directly and shape communities from the inside out.”

But the story of Nigeria’s local government system is one of promise and paradox, woven with threads of hope and frustration.

According to the senator, the dream of achieving the objectives of the local government system has encountered harsh realities as successive governments have often eroded local govt autonomy, limiting their financial resources and control over decision-making.

He added that corruption scandals and mismanagement have often tarnished the image of some local governments, thereby fuelling public cynicism.

Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, CON, in his submission, lamented the non-conduct of local government elections in Anambra State in the past 18 years and bemoaned the resultant negative effect of this in grassroots development.

According to Senator Ubah, without sufficient resources, Local Governments are unable to invest in crucial developmental activities, security architecture, Improved infrastructure, and community engagement initiatives.

This significantly hinders their ability to effectively handle critical aspects of community life like primary education, healthcare, sanitation, local infrastructure, and community security.

Governor Charles Soludo’s perceived indifference towards the quest for local government autonomy in Anambra State and Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’s support for it are two contrasting positions on the issue.

Governor Soludo indifference stems from poor visionary and purposeless leadership.It bemuses one’s imaginations that a man who campaigned for local government autonomy and even promised to conduct elections within six month in office has failed to do so even after two years in office.

He has continued using the Transitional system by appointment he inherited from his predecessor and even planned to install new ones in near future.

Gov. Soludo has reduced the local government system into an APGA party affair where a small group of party faithful are told to elect/select the Chairman that will govern them at the local government.

Instead of conducting a proper election where the people will freely exercise their franchise by voting in capable men and woman to govern them at the local level, he chooses to continue toeing the path of his predecessors.

This has given room for mismanagement, embezzlement, corruption and unaccountability in the local government system of Anambra State because they are not accountable to the people rather to the governor and his cabals.

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’s quest for local government autonomy reflects his belief in the importance of empowering local governments to make decisions that directly affect their communities.

He argued that local governments are better positioned to understand the needs and priorities of their constituents and can implement policies and programs that address these specific needs if given the space to function.

As a strong adherent and proponent of local government autonomy, I strongly align with Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah’s position on local government autonomy .

This is because it has become imperative for the local government independence so that it can effectively and efficiently delivers on its core objectives thereby helping in reducing mirage of issues and problem that have bewildered our country.

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