The introduction of Federal State and Local government system of administration in Nigeria is to ensure national development and cohesion as well as promote socio-economic and political transformation of the country.
And of all the constituents of the federating units, the local government administration is key and vehicle for bringing governance and development closer to the grassroots as more than 80 per cent of the entire population resides in the rural areas.
It was in recognition of the importance of local government administration in the development agenda of the country that successive federal administrations, since independence in 1960 created 774 local government councils across the six geo-political zones of the country.
Therefore, the need to stimulate good governance, proper development agenda and healthy competition among the local government councils in the country cannot be over-emphasized.
It is against this backdrop that the best performing local government award organized by the Senate committee on states and local government administration is timely and a welcome development.
To be precise, the committee on November 7, 2009 at Ladi Kwali Conference Hall of Sheratoon Hotel and Towers, Abuja for the first time since the institution of democracy, ten years ago in the country honoured some local government chairmen in the 36 states of the federation for distinguishing themselves in projects execution and transparent local government administration in 2009.
According to the committee, the awardees were selected and subsequently nominated after due assessment tour and project inspection of local government councils in the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At the end of the exercise, 160 out of 774 local government councils emerged as winners of the award in different categories across the geo-political zones of the country.
Going by the Senate Committee’s score-card, it was obvious that the rest 614 local government councils in the country could not justify federal government’s budgetary allocations to the said council within the period under review.
For example in Rivers State, five local government councils were considered for the award and were respectively honoured.
They include, Gokana, Obio/Akpor, Asari Toru, Okrika and Ahoada East Local Government Councils respectively while the remaining 18 local government councils were classified and declared non-performing or below average.
In a similar exercise in Rivers State, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi constituted Local Government Project Assessment Committee headed by one time Secretary to the State Government, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam.
The aim of the exercise is to ensure that the federal government budgetary allocation as well as tax payers’ money were prudently utilized in the 23 local government councils in Rivers State.
Apparently, the committee has concluded its assignment and forwarded the findings to the state government for proper action.
In fact, feelers from the Cookey-Gam’s Committee indicate that all is not well with majority of the local government councils in the state.
It was reliably gathered that the report submitted by the committee after critical assessment of programme and projects either executed or completed by the 23 local government councils in Rivers State shows that majority were rated below average while few came above average.
Angered by the development, Rivers State governor, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi recently told journalists in Port Harcourt that many of the council chairmen in the state would soon explain what they have done with the federal government allocations to the councils.
Inasmuch as one is not holding brief for Rivers State government and, indeed, various political parties, especially Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), one believes that the score-cards of 774 local government chairmen as evidenced in the report of Senate Committee on States and local government administration and that of Local Government Assessment Committee of Rivers State have provided a platform for benchmarking the political viability or otherwise of the chairmen.
One would therefore suggest that those of them below average should not be allowed to contest future elective positions.
By so doing, the much talked about fight against corruption and promotion of transparency and accountability in governance as well as prudent management of public funds could be achieved.
In the light of the above, we salute the courage and determination of Rivers State government and Senate Committee on States and local government administration for kick-starting probity and transparency in governance at the grassroots level.
Nwankwo is editor’s guest.
FG Mulls Introduction Of Private Firefighters
The Federal Government says it is proposing to broaden the scope of the National Fire Academy to accommodate private firefighters to address fire incidents across the country.
The plan, if carried out, would lead to the emergence of private firefighters in the country.
Speaking after his first official inspection tour of the academy, the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said the fire service could have certified private firefighters like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps’ private guards.
He added that private firefighters were needed to enhance the fire service’s operations as well as improve their response time.
This was contained in a statement by the Minister’s Media Adviser, Alao Babatunde, yesterday.
The statement partly read, “Today, we have over 3 million private guards certified by the NSCDC. We can have something similar for the fire service. We need private fire service men to enhance our service and response time. The President’s #RenewedHope agenda has charged us to be innovative if we must change the narrative.
“As a matter of fact, this is another innovative way to generate revenue because we expect that anyone looking to become a safety or security guard should get trained and certified by this academy.”
Tunji-Ojo urged all institutions and recreation centres to engage certified fire and safety personnel trained by the academy when the plan materialises.
He said: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to be done. With what I have seen here, I can guarantee you that we will work very hard to see that this facility will not only be useful in training officers of the fire service but also for the private sector.
“We must make fire safety a personal affair. Every institution, commercial and social recreation centre should have certified fire and safety personnel, trained by this facility.
“All public and commercial buildings and infrastructure such as banks, hotels, malls, restaurants, or even government buildings should have first responders that can administer basic fire fighting remedy while waiting for the arrival of a full operation squad of the country’s Fire Service”.
Decentralise Pipeline Surveillance Contracts, Ondo Ex-Militants Urge Tinubu
A group of ex-militants in Ondo State, on Wednesday, called on President Bola Tinubu to revisit the pipeline surveillance project and decentralise the awarding of the contract.
The group, under the auspices of the Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard, said decentralisation of the contract would enhance the security of pipelines on waterways.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chief Lucky Ajiroba.
The statement is titled, ‘Call on His Excellency President Bola Tinubu to re-visit the pipeline surveillance contract.’
The group faulted the last administration for awarding the contract to only one company, saying the purpose for which the contract was awarded was not achieved as the security situation of the pipelines was getting worse.
The statement read, “We are the members of Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard. The group led by Akogun Job Omotuwa comprises ex-militants in the state who voluntarily submitted their arms and ammunition in response to the good gesture of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the amnesty programme in the year 2017, and we have shown our unwavering allegiance to the terms of the amnesty initiative of the government.
“The overall effects of all these are: it has increased considerably the quantum of oil production, it has substantially increased the revenue accruable to the Federation account, and ultimately it allows peaceful coexistence among the people of the oil-producing communities of the country.
“We are aware of the sterling enterprise of this administration to improve on the security architecture of the Nigeria state and all its apparatus, with a particular reference to the pipeline surveillance and secured waterways.
“The last administration made a giant stride by awarding the pipeline surveillance to a sole company in the Niger Delta Area. It is not out of place to state that the purpose upon which the contract was awarded for was not achieved as the situation of the security of the pipeline was worse than ever before since their collaborative effort was not enough to support the constituted military authorities.
“The failure of this was ascribed to the centralization of the contract. In view of this perennial failure, there has been avalanche of agitation from every quarter that the pipeline security contract should be decentralized for the purpose of achieving the desired goal of the Federal Government which is in the best interest of the entire citizens.”
The group, which commended the President for its efforts in repositioning the country’s economy, opined that each ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta Region be identified, and the pipeline security contract be split among them.
Assembly Tasks Delta Govt On Rising Prostitution, Drug Abuse
The Delta House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging the State Government to take drastic measures against rising cases of drug abuse and prostitution in the state.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Mrs Bridget Anyafulu (PDP-Oshimili South) at plenary in Asaba.
Presenting the motion, Anyafulu decried rising cases of open sex trade and use of illicit drugs among youths in the state, especially in Asaba and environs.
“Open sex trade and use of illicit drug is not a good example for our children.
“The situation is worrisome considering the fact that both issues are illegal,” she said.
Anyafulu, also the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Community and Social Development said that urgent measures must be taken to address the situation.
“The twin evil of drug abuse and sex trade represents great danger to the lives of our young people and the society at large.
“They both underline the physical, mental and social well-being of our young people and this will also jeopardize the development, peace and security of our dear state.
“So, I want to state that no nation survives without the youth, the youth and the young general are the life wire of our nation.
“Any nation that ignores the youth is heading for doom, so the importance of the young people cannot be over emphasized, it is therefore very important that we address this ugly trend,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Oboro Preyor (PDP-Bomadi) decried the negative impact of rising drug abuse and prostitution, saying it must be addressed.
‘‘If this ugly trend is not addressed, it would attract more young people into their folks,’’ he said.
He also urged the government to rehabilitate youths who were addicted to drug and to create other avenues of engaging them in productive activities.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers when put to voice vote by Speaker Dennis Guwor.
The lawmakers also called for support from law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecution of illicit drug dealers and commercial sex workers in accordance with the law in order to curb the rising trend.
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