Why Local Government Autonomy Matters!

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The present crop of Local Government Chief Executives Officers in Benue state have just complete one year of their two year tenures.

They were sworn in on 22nd June 2020.

People find it difficult to stomach the fact that they are been scammed by lying Politicians everyday- Anonymous

Recently, the Benue state Independent Print Publishers Association of Nigeria IPPAN went on a media tour to assess how the Local Government chairmen and chairwomen had performed since they took office.

And the reports coming from the media tour is that of disappointment and abysmal performance.

Some of the things the chairmen showed as their achievements is laughable and at most shameful.

None of the council chairmen or women could give a detail account of how much each got as their share of the Federal Allocation and the constitutionally state 10% IGR mandatory remittance to the local government council as well as how they expended the funds.

Though no one had expected the Local Government Chief executives to do anything outstanding in terms of development given the alleged strangled-hold that Nigerian state governors have on the finances of the local governments in their respective states.

“I could not do much because of paucity of funds”, lamented one of the Local government chairman visited.

But the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has repeatedly said he does not temper with the Local government finances.

Speaking on a radio Benue programme sometimes ago, Governor Samuel Ortom said he is not one of those Governors who temper with local government finances.

However, an InfoTAG Benue investigation showed that between July 2020 to February 2021, eight months in the first year of their two year tenure, the least each of the local government councils got as their local government share from the monthly federal allocation is more than One billion Naira.

So if the Governor does not temper with the local government finances, then why are the chairmen and women complaining about ‘paucity of funds’?

Or is it that the council chairmen and women cannot prudently manage over a billion naira in their respective councils?

Something is not just right!

The lamentation and frustrations of the council chairmen highlight the ongoing struggle over the need to grant local government financial autonomy which the federal government is taking the lead but is fiercely been resisted by state governors.

In the last 10 years (2010-2020) the total FAAC accrued to the local governments is Benue state is over N470bn with very little real development outcomes to show that such amount of money ever accrued to the councils.

Interestingly, 80 % of the state population reside in the local governments where real development outcomes are lacking.

Therefore, granting local governments financial and personnel autonomy is imperative if the majority of Benue citizens who live in different parts of the state are to experience real and positive development outcomes.

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