The Relevance Of Local Government


Sometimes in the first quarter of former President Olusegun
Obasanjo’s second tenure, a technical committee was set up to assess the
viability and capability of local government system in Nigeria. The policy was
greeted with lots of opposition, criticisms and mixed feelings from political
pundits and the general public.

Some questioned the credibility and constitutionality of the
body, while some saw it as a welcome development and therefore agitated for a
complete scraping of the  third tier of
government. But former President Obasanjo decided to uphold the system inspite
of all odds and criticisms.

To me, in my regard
and rating, local government stands the tallest among the three tiers of
government in terms of accessibility by the people. It is the form of
government that is more accessible to the people at the grassroot or the local
populace. It is a very variable instrument in the democratic process of any
nation.The development of every nation depends upon the geometrical progression
of the third tier of government. It is therefore imperative to constantly
reiterate the importance of this tier of government and as well remind those
agitating for its scrapping of its grassroot benefits.

The urban drift syndrome can adequately be addressed by a
workable third-tier of government. Urban migration has continued to pose
serious threat to the socio-economic and political structure of this country in
particular and the third-world countries in general. This is because of heavy
concentration of development in urban cities while leaving behind the crummy
and shabby towns in our local government areas. The effects of this trend is
better imagined.

For instance, the one-city status of Rivers State today is
as a result of the neglect of other local government areas that make up the

The accessibility of the third-tier of government makes it
very easy for the local people to deal with the government directly. People
have easier access to those who preside over the affairs of the local
government. The executive and legislators that form the government are all
members of the communities and also live
within  the local government area.

Besides, the third tier of government is the only form of
government that can ascertain what the people want at every given time. One of
the inadequacies of the first and second tiers of government sometimes is
implementation of white elephant projects that are somewhat not
people-oriented. Most of these projects do not have direct impact on the people
that are supposed to enjoy them.

So, the more accurate and authentic ways of achieving
greater productivity, objective and result in project implementation by the
federal or state government is to liaise with the local government.

In this era of youth restiveness, cultism and other social
vices, I think the best way to tackle these menaces is through the local
government. With proper articulation of words and in the language of the
people, the local government can help educate the voracious youths on the
effects of their nefarious activities. They will surely heed to it because the
message is passed in their local language and by their direct leaders.

It is, however, unfortunate that most of the people that
preside over the  affairs of our local
governments are either corrupt or incompetent. This is why the lofty idea
behind the creation of local government by our political forefathers seems
defeated. Most of the local government chairmen and councillors deviate
completely from the lofty objectives of providing good governance to the local
populace. But should we throw away the baby with the bath water?

The dream of every democratic government is to achieve
greater dividends. But the most appreciable thing is when the dividends are
enjoyed by the people they are meant for. That is, such dividends should get to
the right people and at the right time. He who knows it feels it.

In view of the above, and other numerous gains of this form
of government, it is very pertinent that the third tier of government is
strengthened by the Nigerian constitution to enable the people at the
grassroots have a true sense of belonging.

Hon. Tordee (JP), a public affairs analyst, resides in Port


Manson B. Tordee