RESPECTED ELDERS, BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Till 1979, Nigeria as a country utilised a political structure that gives room for two tiers of government and three arms of government respectively. The two tiers of government are the federal and state while the three arms of government are the legislative, executive and judiciary respectively. As a nation, we preferred federal system of government than any other system of government because of separation of power, distribution of authority based on jurisdiction, sovereignty and bring government closer to the people until a military man tried his best to abolish federal system of government and introduced unitary system of government which failed totally as a result of coup and public opinion. Ever since we have been trying our possible best to bring our government closer to the people in as much as we want our local people to enjoy the dividends of democracy and good governance.
In 1979, local government became third tier of government and our people’s thirst for local authorities was quenched by this innovation. The hope of a better nation was elevated by our then leaders and the move on how dividends, benefits of government will reach grass roots was ignited by a powerful vision but with a weak and fragile determination. Average nigerians see this act as a means of participation in politics and contribution towards the political landscape of our land.
I read it in a political book how effective and efficient local governments were during her early creation days and how it gave birth to formation of a new nigeria. It was pointed out in that book how local government can cater for her welfare and her workers well-being without close supervision from state governments. I could remember when my lecturer who was a graduate of political science mentioned how Internal Revenue Generation(IGR) of a state is worked upon by the local government. He mentioned creation of market stalls & extension of state works to local government for efficient & effective running of nation’s affairs. It was never smooth or free from political accidents but it contributed towards the nation’s building compared to our recent local governments where thugs, touts and political prisoners are given offices in local government as appreciation of their contributions towards gubernatorial election of states.
The current state of local government in Nigeria calls for urgent intervention and diplomatic approach. It is no longer news that states government have been utilising funds meant for local government to develop their own sovereignty and areas of jurisdiction. Many states have siphoned funds and stylishly diverted their annual funds into their personal and private accounts especially offshore. I could remember how we have been using caretakers as chairmen of third tier of government in our dear state in Osun and no steps taken by the state government to rectify this craziness like Oyo state will soon rectify theirs.
It is very glaring that we have been denied participation of the public in electing local government head officials in our dear Oyo state. We have been denied contributions to local government elections and most of us didn’t worry or bother to know why but it is always painful that these set of people will be ranting on social media over what they do not know.
There is a need to explain what happened historically in past years because present is the key to the past.
Recall, in the year 2007 when Ladoja was about to leave his office as the governor of Oyo state. He constituted OYSIEC (Oyo state independent electoral commission) barely a week before the expiration of his tenure in office and he gave the order to Oysiec to conduct local government election within a week before his tenure expires. Akala couldn’t agree with decision of his predecessor because he discovered a political foul play and political assassination attempt on members of his political party caucus. Akala constituted a new OYSIEC after he dissolved his predecessor’s constituted OYSIEC by a competent court of law.
Ladoja couldn’t agree with the dissolution of his constituted OYSIEC by Akala’s administration. He couldn’t accept the decision of Akala’s administration to slaughter the interests of his people to serve the good people of Oyo state. It was a fight that started with exchange of hot words, threats before Ladoja charged Akala’s administration to court to prove his stand legally in the presence of the law but it wasn’t settled until both withdrew the case during Ajimobi second term in office as the governor of Oyo state.
The inability of our court of law to dispense justice without fear or favouritism is well-known by us and long duration it takes before judgment can be done to issues that involve the riches, famous and powerful individuals within the country.
The case was in court throughout Akala’s regime. No judge passed a judgment on this issue.
Based on information at our disposal, Ajimobi could not or didn’t organise his own OYSIEC based on advice received from his advisers when elected on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) in year 2011. He was advised to give respect to rule of law and wait for the case in court to be settled by two parties or allow judgment to be delivered by the court. If Oyo people could remember how we waited throughout Ajimobi first year in office but it was painful & unfortunate that no judgement was given or passed by court.
I learnt that after Ajimobi won his second term in office as the governor of the state, both parties withdrew their case from court and I really do not know why Ajimobi chose to delay the election of local government executives.
New Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission had been constituted few months ago by the state government. I have witnessed some moves by OYSIEC and I have read posts on media especially from Ajimobi loyalists in regards to local government election. I have seen pictures taken by OYSIEC with the governor of the state and some state officials but I haven’t seen any action taken by OYSIEC. Is this an act of negligence of duty or they have been proscribed internally by the state government. At least there is still hope for them in Oyo state rather than here in Osun where our governor is a walking drunk who abused the beauty of our democracy.
The existence of local government goes beyond our nation, Nigeria because we have local authorities as third tiers of government in advanced countries. It is a great slap on us as the giant of africa if we have local authorities restricted to construction of market stalls, internal revenue generation, maintenance of road and other secretarial functions without expanding their scope of work with capable funds to work. We have local authorities heading power stations, trains and port authorities in advanced countries but our own officials of the local government have limited themselves to minute or little contribution towards the development of the nation.
Every rational being must congratulate Aregbesola for using local government as a tier of government to construct new roads within their jurisdiction which is an evidence that they have been affected not by funds but by limited intelligence.
I am a testimony to local government officials negligence of duty. I could remember when I went to Osogbo to receive a certificate of state of origin from Osogbo local government. I went through hell. I arrived at the premises or vicinity of the local government as at 7:30am but I wasn’t attended to until 11:30am. I was informed that the caretaker chairman wasn’t around which is nothing but an insult on us as a state.
I waited until he came around. He asked some questions and corrected some mistakes I made before I left his office.
I went to see his typist for her to insert my name into that paper he gave me but I was disappointed because typewriter is not in good condition. I waited for hours before she could solve this issue. Atlast I left their secretariat barely 3:15pm even when some officials of the secretariat left earlier than myself who was a guest. I pondered over their decision to be autonomous and independent. I walked away with heavy heart because I couldn’t submit my credentials to my citadel of learning few years ago.
Days of debate are gone. We do not need to debate how we have been failed by our past local government officials nor their imbalances, errors and mistakes but rather focus more on why they have failed, steps to take to have competent & reliable officials at the elms of local matters. It is a disgrace to have stylishly remove an essential part of a functioning tier of government in our political society. The government of Oyo state should work towards free and fair election to ensure total sovereignty for elected officials.
Truly, our local governments officials are lazy, fragile and weak but elimination is never a solution neither will I move a motion of extinction but we can make them better or more efficient and effective through forceful participation in the course of a better state. If local executives are elected, it is a means of employment for some unemployed youths as some people will be appointed and selected for political offices.
The absence of local governments in Oyo state has deprived our people dividends, entitlements and benefits of good and effective governance. The participation of our people at the grassroots have been shortened and they have been deprived every right of franchise. We need government to reach our grassroots and we need dividends, benefits of governance at our doorsteps.
I implore the State Government of Oyo state to give enough room for free participation of aspirants without having any special candidate. I implore the OYSIEC to work towards peaceful election. I urge the government to overlook party differences, ensure free and fair election. I implore the state government to give free access to OYSIEC to contribute their quotas towards a free, fair and credible election. There is a need for Oyo state government to quicken this electoral process by granting funds to OYSIEC for credible election. I know how harsh the economy of the state is, I am fully aware how weak our treasury is but we must strive hard to work towards the political development and advancement of our state through grassroots participation in politics.
Mustapha Shile. CON coordinator, Iseyin LG. Oyo state