by Ife Adebayo
The politics of serving our elected officials instead the officials serving us is not only happening at the state and federal levels but also in the local governments. This has to stop.
Last month we had the Abuja Local Government elections and it all went along without any notice by the populace. The elections were generally peaceful and organised not because INEC has improved or was more professional but because the people did not come out to vote. Last week we had the Edo State Local Government elections and I noticed exactly the same lack of interest shown by the Edo State residents. Nigerians have a lackadaisical attitude to governance at the Local Government level and this is very sad because development actually starts at the local level. Many Nigerian youths do not even know who their Local Government ward councillor is not to talk of knowing their Local Government Chairman, how then can we truly ask for change when we cannot hold the very people who are in charge of our streets to account for their service?
We are quick to notice awful decisions by the federal government, but most times our local governments are worse culprits of poor governance. I have always said that we need to start development from the Local Government level of governance. I call this the ‘Fixing Nigeria Bottom-Up Approach.
We can all start from our local governments. This is probably the easiest way to fix Nigeria, holding your Local Government officials to account for every penny they receive from the federal government, asking them questions that matter like why there are no proper primary schools in your locality, what they are doing to ensure your street is paved and the drainages are cleared, why the pregnant women in your area cannot have access to quality primary health care, why the PHCN cables on your street are lying on the floor instead of being proper laid with poles, when you ask them these difficult questions they can go to the governor and let the governor know you are not giving them peace.
But what we currently have is that people struggle to get into Local Government positions to make money, when these people get into power they are worshipped by the masses in that local government, they immediately start building houses and give money to their boys who were loyal while they ran for office. The politics of serving our elected officials instead the officials serving us is not only happening at the state and federal levels but also in the local governments. This has to stop.
If each local government can start by being self-sustaining, then we will begin to get somewhere. If local governments can start working together to get results, then we might just be on the way to fixing our country.
Can local government chairmen try to work with neighbouring local governments to build solar powered power plants? This will be much less complicated and cumbersome than waiting on the national grid. Invite foreign solar companies to build a solar plant in your local government, distribute the power to the people and bill appropriately, if you produce excess power you can sell to neighbouring local governments.
Local governments can become self-sustainable agriculturally. Almost every region in Nigeria can at least grow something, why are local governments not investing in agriculture? Why are they waiting on their respective State Governments and the Federal Government? As a local government chairman why can’t you bring in agricultural companies to invest in your local government? If you are lucky to have a university or polytechnic in your local government this is even better, you can ensure these agricultural companies invest in your Agriculture departments basically turning your local government to a national reference point on agriculture.
Basically these same things can work in virtually every sector. If our local government chairmen can be interested in investing in their local governments. Sadly, these chairmen live amongst us, they eat with us, sleep with us and we cannot hold them accountable. How then do we get the boldness to hold our federal or state government to account?
You want to fix Nigeria? Start from the bottom up. Know your local government chairman today. Begin to ask him questions. Just maybe then we can start to build Nigeria again.
Ife Adebayo is an IT Consultant with work experience in Germany, United Kingdom and Nigeria. He currently runs his own IT firm in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an ardent believer in the Nigerian project and encourages all Nigerians to become actively involved in making Nigeria a better place. Ife is a registered member of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Epe Local Government, Lagos State. He was an active member of the UK branch of the party, holding the post of Youth Leader for the year 2010/2011.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.