The Neglected Local Government system as the failure of Nigeria
Individuals, groups and sometimes nations often look above and from without causes to their economic predicaments; however, it is usually from below (neglect of things within reach) that economic predicaments emanate from. The situation in Nigeria is a case in point, as our problem did not as it were, fall from above; rather, the neglected, abused and raped Local Government System in the country gave space for the decrepit nature of the Nigerian state. The Local Government is the nucleus enclave in a country political system, comprising mostly of people with tribal, religious and cultural affinity. It is the level of constitutional government closest to the people; saddled to take the dividends of governance and democracy to the remote parts of the country. As many political thinkers do avow, unless governance springs from the root – from the local, the edifice of the nation state will always encounter cracks and possible collapse. The Economic and security situation of our dear country Nigeria is continuously deteriorating day by day, and in search of remedies, Billions of US dollars has already been spent on it without any achievement with Trillions of Naira in wastage, agony, grief and frustration as normality on the faces of the masses. The area of Baga (Kukawa LGA) in Borno State is under siege, area known for its much agricultural activities in fishery, same goes to places in Gusau and Gummi of Zamfara so rich in Solid minerals, areas in Plateau, Jos North and kajuru with its rich Agriculture, Tourist and human resources are now battle fields, most LGA in Benue the Food basket of the Nation, not just by nomenclature , but they are, yet the arable lands there are now fields of war with unknown marauders, ritual killings has been often in report in areas in osun with Internet fraud a normality in its surrounding states, cult wars and kidnapping has also taken the south-East and South-South areas, not minding the economic and strategic importance of those thriving Local Government areas in those States and zones. The major Economic flashpoints are now under siege that even serving Governors can no longer visit, such that a sitting Governor was humiliated in his home state all in his quest for peace and Progress.
The Cause of our predicament is not hanged above us, the neglected, abused and raped Local Government System in Nigeria gave space for such vices to encroach into the larger society, creating instability in all progress moves made at the federal and state levels, unless a good foundation is made the house will always have a crack and in most cases collapse. The LGA system which is saddled to take Governance to the remote parts of the country, to be Government closest to the People, does not function or is not allowed functioning in the country. This continuous existing gap in governance has led to most of the economic, security and sovereign challenges Nigeria is facing today.
Starting from Security, if the Local Government system is in place and functioning as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the communalism of the African Societies would metamorphosis into a well-coordinated community policing method locally built and unique to each community based on the belief and methodology of each LGA. Instead, the neglect of the people has led to porosity taking over the entire channels, that it can now be seen communities which now organize, support the smuggling of goods through their borders, what this entails is that same route used for smuggling of good will still be used for trading of fire arms, deterioration of the society and giving birth to a generation that won’t believe hence in hard work and celebration of criminality and its entrenchment as an acceptable order, the negative multiplier effect of such is what Nigeria is battling today at National level, the neglected finger that fetch palm oil has now extended it to all others. The same Youths who are ought to be engaged in their Local communities positively through the instrumentality of effective good governance, are same youths that will involve eventually in the smuggling of those arms, forming criminal gangs and ultimately the use of those arms, making the youths so cheap that they can be used in anyway positively or negatively, the Future Leaders? No the future no longer belongs to them, the future is bleak and unpredictable. This is a resultant effect of the failed Local Government System in Nigeria. There’s no religion or affection beyond loving one another genuinely and such can only be attained when we positively impact or develop these human resources to be gainful to the society.
On Agriculture…Our Food…our daily bread… agriculture and food security is optimized when local governments are involved, since they have better understanding of agricultural practices of their people and have access to the hinterlands – where most agricultural produce are generated. Each Country is known to have absolute advantage in one Agriculture product or activity in the nation, to protect and promote this advantage, it is the same abandoned LGA system that will collect such data, process it and enhance it with the Local People. But the reverse is the case, when eventually the power brokers shares power like ‘Klondike Solitaire Card’ and given to questionable elements, the agents of the Local government system will engage in extortion, intimidation and harassment of already struggling farmers. The neglect of the farm lands which will eventually arise, will give room to hideouts of criminals within the Local Jurisdiction. These hideouts will emerge sooner or later into a major national security issue and will engulf resources negatively as usual, in the last three decades, Nigeria has spent more on unproductive ventures than productive ones, and we shall be fine One day. This is the commonality between Zamfara banditry, Southern Kaduna crises (Kajuru problem), Sambisa Forest, Abuja-Kaduna road banditry, izzi and Ezza in Ebonyi State, etc, same explains also the recent unusual herders parading into places inflicting injuries that will take generations to heal, but in herders menace we all have blame as we neglected the Nomadic Education policy over the years and now suffering for that we refused to correct. In all these places, the hideouts are abandoned arable lands which stands to fetch the nation revenue and employment but allowed to fallow and endanger the nation that even a fast moving train in such terrains risk being attacked. The Agricultural Extension workers are now sit at home political stooges that doesn’t know the definition of Agriculture, let alone perform the works of Agricultural Extension workers. we have forgotten or Ignorant that majority of the Olive Oil we import here to cast out demons (our weak Imaginations) are from plantation done on the likes of most of the abandoned farm lands here, because it’s very economical to do such plantation and visit it occasionally, nothings stops us from using such method to have plantation of different plants on abandoned farm lands and solve our challenges.
Health. Hope of the Sick. Barely do our crop of LGA administrators know that it is the assignment of their various offices to provide and encourage Primary Health Care, most of the health centers around the Country are in a very bad State, dilapidated, when such critical sector is neglected means a surge in Rural –Urban Migration, Maternal and Child Mortality, easy transmission of diseases and poor public health within the Local Government Areas, Poor hygiene and thus high cost of living, also such encourages the patronizing of quack medical Services providers. Such will eventually lead to aggregate health sector challenges of the nation with health facilities in the City battling overcrowding far above capacity and health facilities in the rural areas neglected and abandoned to the hand of vandals. Everywhere you go to today in Nigeria, People are clamoring for restructuring without explicit explanation of what it’s all about, yet the clear structure we have today has not been used, even the assumed restructured nation, will it still work if we still maintain this attitude towards Local Government Administration and the people at the grassroots? The abattoirs in different local Government areas have turned to catalysts of organ failures and disease spreading. While levies are collected for LGA’S, Dangerous carbon monoxide emission rubbers are used to burn the meats 90 percent of Nigerians eat, contaminated running dirty streams are used to wash same meat. Who created the most health hazards in the Country? It is the neglected public health departments in Local Government areas. The quick levies we grab today and fail to utilize it well is the cause of death of most of the people, the kidney failures, the liver failure, the cholera outbreak etc. can we learn from slaughterhouse of Atria Oyj in Seinäjoki, Finland or other numerous affordable once in the developing nations. But the question of Public health and LGA as it relates to meat consumption is because there is no ideological concept in place in the allocation of markets and dearth of functional public facilities. The quick rise of unlicensed and unsupervised brothels in those hidden areas is same reason why the nation will spend more in cure and prevention of STDs and have no money for capital development
Religious and Organization…we are very religious and always care about our standing in organizations. The ideal LGA is supposed to have a better framework of managing the heterogeneity of the people, population through identity cards and cohesion through monitored communal participation, yet this abused, neglected system has led to the upsurge in unregistered, strange religious and other organizations which is now today causing the nation huge resources in such an unprecedented manner and also in an unproductive sector of almost wasteful investment. The LGA supposed to encourage or discourage any new religious and other organizations through registration criteria. Using such criteria, any such group perceived to be a threat will be stopped at the early stages of it using all information available to advice the nation. The effect of such neglect is the rise of strange organizations be it religious or not in the country, it is either they are fighting the armed forces, banditry, terrorism or they are into land grabbing, robbing, rape, promotion of incest or thuggery. All the listed societal vices are the result of our failed LGA System, such organizations which eventual grow to state or national level always start in the abandoned local areas taking first the advantage of the illiterate, hungry, neglected and felt abandoned populace to gather membership before expanding. The Local Government System which in advanced climes is the most active government close to the people with heads of such Government a common man known very well to the people, have constituted an avenue of political settlement and erecting of thugs for silencing of the contrary voices, thugs who goes about collecting illegal and unaccounted levies, land grabbling, erecting of illegal markets along the roads and creating of Local villages accomplices to service the political gladiators.
The Origin of all the major challenges facing the nation today can be traced to the neglecting of the Local Government System, unless corrected on time, Nigeria will continue to be a third world nation with all of its corresponding characteristics which are attributed to poverty. Thus, terrorism, kidnapping, malnutrition, poor health care, hunger, unemployment and stupid Nepotism. Instead of Agricultural Extension Services and introduction of new cash crops to ease the effects of poverty, it is the discouraging of farms , instead of primary health care awareness, it is the sale of illicit drugs in the communities and quack abortions, instead of sanitation, it is the intimidation of innocent women and children in places of business , instead of recreational parks, we have hideouts for criminals, it is we all that have failed the nation collectively by our failures to do things right. The celebration of culture and traditions which attract tourism is something that is best done at the Local Government Level; because most local governments are created cognizance of cultural similarity and affinity … hence the possibility of having similar cultural festivals that could engender the development of tourism. Education (which is the apparatus with which the state shapes its citizens – is best catered for by the local government). Thus, the low quality of educational output at the tertiary level can be traced back to the neglect of the local government (Primary school).
A mayor is meant to be known by all the locals, visits the communities often and give sense of belonging to all. Here a mayor knows nobody in his area, and is known only by a selected few, he moves in a security convoy because he has killed the security of the masses and created criminal elements while he parades with white and white attire which is now assuming Nigerian Elite wear. Hence the neglected local governments should be looked into for better state and national development.
Francis C Onoh (ksm)