By Peter Ogbuokwa

All is not well with Nigeria right now. The country is going through hard times no doubt, owing to mismanagement of the economy by the past leaders. The local government where people are supposed to go and complain about their plight and get remedy is non–existent.  This is because the local government level, which is the engine room of development, is in disarray and without proper funding.

This is the fulcrum of development all over the world. But the unfortunate thing about the local government here is that it is relegated to the background. Elsewhere in the world, the local government used to bring development to the people because they cannot get to government at the centre.

The idea of the local government as a third-tier of governance is predicated on the principle of bringing the instrument of governance closer to the communities and harnessing the interests and aspirations of the local communities as an input-output analysis in governance. The local government also is an avenue through which the people can exercise their political rights through representatives at the local councils established by law to exercise specific powers within their jurisdictions. The local government is a distinct legal entity and has power to raise its own revenue within its area of jurisdiction as provided for in the constitution.

For instance, recently the ranking parliamentarians of the Federal Republic were given constituency allowances to do projects in their different localities, unfortunately these are the same people they are supposed to be supervising or over sighting as the case may be.

Local government should bring development to the country due to its closeness to people. People would say what they want and funds would be channelled for such projects, which would be monitored vigorously. More so, it is in terms of security, food and welfare, among others that the local government administration will know what is happening with a view to addressing the situation.

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Not too long ago, I was told that a legislator used his constituency allowance to pay for the circumcision of young males in his area.

The argument is that if the legislator didn’t do what they wanted, the people might not want to vote for him again. But people forget that circumcision is a personal thing and not part of constituency arrangement.

Worthy of note is the notion that the local government is the vehicle for development at the grassroots and the belief that the local governments are operated in order to increase the people’s understanding and support of social and economic development.

The president and governors should allow local governments to function effectively to bring development to closer to the people.

• Peter Ogbuokwa, a media consultant based in Lagos, writes via email: [email protected] and can be reached on 08127588053