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True essence of governance can only be felt at the grassroots level — Isola, ex-envoy

Former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Ishola, has emphasized that the true essence of governance can only be felt at the grassroots level but those at the grassroots are suffering because of challenges.

 

Ishola maintained on Friday while presenting a paper titled, “Local Government Administration: Panacea for Development in Nigeria,” at the annual departmental lecture of Fountain University, Osogbo, Osun State.

He named some of the challenges to include financial constraints, corruption and mismanagement, inadequate manpower, lack of autonomy, intergovernmental conflict, inadequate planning and poor implementation of policies.

The ambassador noted that with the support of the state governments, local governments can adopt several strategies to enhance rural development.

“The true essence of governance can only be felt at the grassroots level because this is where the lives of the people are mostly touched.

“The critical areas of development where attention, efforts and resources must be devoted towards meaningful development include the following: rural development, security, economic development and entrepreneurship,” he continued.

Ishola emphasized that the administration of local government councils remains pivotal for the development of Nigeria.

The Ambassador noted that despite the importance of local government councils and their critical role in bringing dividends of democracy to the people, the level of development in the country has not shown why the councils were created.

Isola said there is a need for the federal and state governments to allow local governments to function as they ought to, saying they are currently faced with many challenges, advising that addressing the challenges of local government and implementing practical solutions will lead to a good quality of life for those living in rural areas.

He said: “The administration of local government councils remains pivotal for the development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Despite the importance of local government councils and their critical role in bringing the dividends of democracy to the citizenry, particularly at the grassroots level, the level of development in the country has not been commensurate to justify the creation of the councils.

“They are faced with many challenges which significantly hamper the abilities of local government councils’ administration to deliver on their mandates.

“Addressing the challenges and implementing practical solutions, will ensure that a good quality of life becomes a reality for most of the population in the rural and urban settlements of Nigeria.”

On the security challenges facing the country, Ambassador Isola commended the Federal Government and the security agencies but added that Nigeria’s internal security architecture should be anchored on the local governments and state governors.

“I wish to acknowledge the efforts of our security agencies in addressing our present security challenges. The task is herculean, without doubt.

“The Armed Forces in our nation is undoubtedly overstretched with involvement in the internal security operations in almost all the states of Nigeria. I strongly believe that the rules of engagement of the Armed Forces do not prepare them for the maintenance of law and order and day-to-day security in every nook and cranny of our country.

“The Nigeria Police, State Security Services and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps are primarily trained and should be responsible for such duties.

“In recent times, the issue of our national security, especially those bordering on internal security challenges have been hinged on the Federal Government of Nigeria. Mr President is constantly required to perform the responsibilities of a local government area chairman and a state governor in the provision of security in Nigeria.

“This is unfortunate, and we need a proactive step to put the responsibilities to where they belong. The Federal Government of Nigeria has numerously brought this to the attention of the state governors, local government council chairmen and other state actors.

“However, we need to operationalise and give effect to the directive. Our internal security architecture should be anchored on 774 local government areas (LGAs) and 36 states through the LGA chairmen and the state governors, respectively,” he added.

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