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Faulty grassroots governance structure caused insecurity, says Omo-Agege

Deputy president of the senate, Ovie Omo-Agege has stated that improving leadership performance at the grassroots will put Nigeria on the path of development.

This was stated on Wednesday by Omo-Agege at a national dialogue on local government and grassroots development in Nigeria, organised by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action, Nigeria), a civil society organisation, in Abuja.

Represented by Chuba Okafor, the deputy senate president also called for local government autonomy across all states.

“It is commonplace that high crime rates, especially violent crime, insurgency, terror, banditry and brigandage are all traceable to a faulty grassroots governance structure,” he said.

“Related social vices, such as petty thieving and rebellion among the youth, can be traced to the collapse of family values. Even the high rate of break-ups of marriages can all be traced to a very faulty culture of community administration at the grassroots level.

“The same with the economic distortions associated with massive rural-urban drift and the unsatisfactory management of diseases that could be taken care of at the level of primary healthcare delivery.

“In all, it appears to me that attempts at devolution of power as far as the local governments are concerned have been mere de-concentration of power. Devolution carries with it, the garb of autonomy; such that local governments are answerable to the people that elect them, through the constitution and enabling laws.

“Also, and unfortunately, it appears that the institutions that will cause events that will translate into real local government autonomy are the same institutions benefitting from the present stranglehold on local government administration. Indeed, only a strong political will, will make them let go. We can only hope that the coming months, will tell.

“If we must get our development aspirations right, we must get local government autonomy by all legal means, for the local government remains the bastion of grassroots development in modern democracies.”

Also speaking, Asume Osuoka, executive director of the organisation, said many local governments are not working because they have become an appendage of the state.

Asume, who was represented by Prince Edegbuo, the organisation’s project manager, said Nigeria needs to get governance right at the local level.

“What are the reasons why local governments have not been effective? It is because local governments have been clipped as an appendage to the states,” he said.

“State governors have taken over functions of local governments to the point where they now appoint those who get elected. When these people get into power, they really do not understand what governance at the local level is. They start paying allegiance to those who brought them into power. That is not what that tier of government is all about.

“This dialogue is about giving strength back to local governance to ensure our communities get developed, so that people who want to become chairman of local governments and councillors to the legislative arm of the council know exactly what they want to do.”

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