To say we have a local government is no news, but to think the people utilize the local government is the unsettling reality.
In school, you are being taught that the country operates three tiers of government: the federal, the state and the local government. But the third, you see, operates only on paper.
In this part of the world, it is almost as though the local government is non-existent with the people barely able to identify who their council chairman is, let alone who represents their constituency in the State House of Assembly.
The focus is always on the federal and the state with only the community leaders and an interested few having ties with the government at the local. Aside that, the only time the masses get to connect to the government at the grassroots is when the election is around the corner and these people who almost vanish the moment they are elected come canvassing for votes.
Scenarios which have become synonymous to local environment in Nigeria such as bad roads, electricity, insecurity; and other social amenities the government should ordinarily make available for the people have unfortunately become thorns in the people’s flesh, and the shocking revelation is that these people in crying for help forget they have a local and proceed to calling out the state, and even in some cases the federal.
In recent times though, they have been calls for the scrapping of the local government. It was being argued that their lack of autonomy and state encroachment in their affairs makes them redundant, as such, should be scrapped. Others argue that the local government is just yet another platform for people to grow their political career, extend influence of principals on the locals and also serve as yet another means to launder public funds.
While that is a niggling issue bedeviling the local government in Nigeria, it is another topic for another day as yet another niggling issue is the amnesia people have towards the local government which to a large extent is not putting these elected leaders on their toes to deliver what democracy at the local should deliver.
It is important we note that neither the federal government nor the state government will and should understand us more than the local government. The local government is the closest representation of the government any local can have. In other words, when there is an unsettling issue that borders on amenities that should be provided by the government, the local government is your closest call to getting them.
Your road is bad, there is a problem in the market, there are internally displaced persons or disabled persons with no shelter in the society, there are some boys threatening the security of lives and properties, your street is unnamed, there is no street lighting, there is no health facility near you or the one you have is substandard; this is no time to call Buhari, it is no time to call Fashola, it is no time to call Sanwo-Olu, not when you have not called your local government chairman.
It is yet another election season, and they are back canvassing for votes, and has history has taught us they disappear almost immediately they get the votes, only to appear when the season makes a return. Well, we can’t fault them because we never demanded from them. We have our eyes fixed on the top when down at us are rungs we can climb to getting to the top.
The indifference we have paid the local government as a people need to be looked into and changed. They are not ceremonial, they have statutory duties and obligations to us. We need to know them, have a relationship with them, and call them first when we have issues that borders on government. The whole talk about them being incapacitated might be true but not to an absolute extent. They get allocated with budget and take into their account public funds, isn’t it right we hold them accountable for these funds in respect to their sworn service to humanity?
Again, we have three tiers of government in Nigeria: the federal, the state, and the local. The best bet you have towards dividends of democracy is with the locals. The neglection of them mostly accounts for why communities are what they are today. 2023 is too far a time to change this narrative when we have now to hit the ground running.