The Nigerian Local Government system is not a happenstance. It is rather the predictable outcome of a political evolution dating back to the colonial era. It was nurtured from the periphery, with a system of indirect rule built on the traditional administrations, to create the Nigerian federation.
However, through a series of political and constitutional developments, the Nigerian federation has evolved into what is now described as a three-tier political structure with federal, state and local units of government.
The Local Government which formed the nucleus of the present demographic pool of Nigeria has not only been undermined, but is now undergoing major constitutional assault. With the exception of the 1976 local government reforms, which attempted to restore the sanctity of local governance, political restructuring has tended to downgrade local government administration.
Despite these onslaughts, the principles of democratic inclusiveness and grassroots participation, which ensures local governments survival has continued to meet brick walls. Concerned that the Local Government is fundamental to Nigeria’s democratic process, as it remains the most potent instrument to mobilize people for local participation in governance and to spread democratic dividends and values, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), an organ which warehouses the entire pool of 774 LGAS and all Area Councils and Development Centers was born in 1999.
Unfortunately, ALGON which by its constitution is supposed to dutifully monitor its rural constituents and offer them a clear leadership direction, has derailed by popular judgement. Its fundamental provision to discourage every form of loyalty to Federal and State governments in the interests of its rural populace, has largely remained a pipe dream till date.
The association which is supposed to impose sanctions and correctional measures on rebellious elements working against the smooth running of ALGON, has continuously derailed by either honoring such erring members or allowing anti-democratic forces to hijack its democratic processes.
Across the states, the association is entangled in a web of leadership tussle, and intransigence, breeding instability for its duly constituted Executive Councils. And with this constant infighting, the hopes of the helpless grassroots masses for equitable distribution of the dividends of democracy, are being dashed against a rock.
Over the years, there has been intense cut-throat competition to control the soul of ALGON, by a few misguided and selfish groups, who erroneously believe that power is more about control born of hatchet jobs, than consensus which enthrones good governance at the grassroots. This has been the stock-in-trade of the association’s power brokers over the intervening years, as evidenced by successive elections into the association’s apex body.
Despite the charades which do not meet the constitutional provisions of ALGON on General Assembly, the year 2021 witnessed the emergence of a perfect and bespoke General Assembly. Hon. Alabi Kolade David emerged via a truly democratic election by its state executives and National officers, a clear departure from the past leaderships which were often products of destructive leadership tussles that mar the progress of ALGON.
ALGON’s new National President, Hon. Alabi, is now the beautiful bride that is redefining the Association, with consistent policy of building capacity and optimizing the values which the association stands for.
The breadth of fresh air and the new peace building by the present leadership has been very remarkable. Some good take away from this whole scenario is that the age-old obstructions on the path of ALGON’s progress, have now given way to stable leadership that befits a well-structured organization like ALGON. The intended idea of making the association a hub for training of future leaders has come alive.
Following this change of guard are several advocacies, inter-agency collaboration, multisectoral programmes, training retreats, meetings and interventions by ALGON, in its resolve to truly assert itself as the people’s government. Under Alabi, ALGON is now witnessing massive return of trust by the people, resulting in increased collaboration with both the Nigerian governors Forum and the Federal Government.
Alabi has dutifully towed the path of entrenching virile Local Government Councils, through several advocacies in favor of democratically elected Local Council officials, in line with the 1999 Constitution which provides inter alia: “The system of local government by democratically elected council is under this constitution guaranteed and accordingly, the government of every state shall, subject to this section of the Constitution, ensure their existence under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and function of such councils.
“It shall be the duty of a local government council within the state to participate in economic planning and development of the area referred to in subsection 2 of this section and to this end, an economic planning board shall be established by a law enacted by the State House of Assembly.” Even the imperfect review of the 1999 Constitution across the country indicated that most Nigerians desire the autonomy of local governments, guaranteed by the constitution.
Although in the past ALGON, has shown a characteristic lack of capacity to address critical components of governance as enshrined in the Constitution, under the present National President of the association has embarked on lobbying at international and local levels, thereby pushing back the celebration of mediocrity.
Presently, ALGON is making bold efforts towards a constitutional amendment that would guarantee its existence and ensure that the Nigeria Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU) Presidential initiative, in which funds allocated to local government councils are paid directly into the councils’ accounts becomes sacrosanct, alongside other critical issues like fighting insecurity through Community policing, increase of monthly allocation, and building synergy between states and Federal Governments respectively.
With respect to electoral challenges across the states and local governments, while many stakeholders have bemoaned the several gaps existing in the State Independent Electoral Commission’s (SIEC), especially the non-conducting of truly independent election devoid of State governments’ interference, ALGON under the watch of Alabi has been working assiduously to ensure improvement in many states, through advocacy and synergy.
At the moment, Nigerians have woken up to the realization that the nation has more to gain more via the grassroots, if the autonomy of local governments is guaranteed as advocated by the present National President in response to the feelers emanating from the masses. So far, it has been a redefining moment for ALGON, as Nigerians can now see that the unending quest for power and inactivity in ALGON has over the years caused a lot of damage to ALGON viz-a-viz the vision of its founding fathers in 1999. There is new reawakening that only democratically elected local government Chairmen will lead to an increase in distribution of the dividends of democracy to the grassroots.
Accordingly, several barriers to citizenship participation in electing candidates of their choice at the local level has been well canvassed, with the goal to connect the dots and give voice to low-income earners for whom ALGON is their only hope for survival.
It is worthy of note that, the kind of reforms which ALGON had envisaged from inception which had eluded it in the past, are all materializing at the moment and in such a way that will bring about progress, as they represent fundamental changes that prevents state governments from encroaching into revenue accruable to local governments. This is the dawn of a new day for the ordinary Nigerian at the grassroots and for that we have the Hon. Alabi Kolade David-led executive to thank.
In the final analysis, I hereby urge all well-meaning Nigerians to support the new wind of development sweeping across our local governments, by closing ranks with the new ALGON executive to bring home the deliverables of democracy to our people. This will reduce youth restiveness, Cultism, Unemployment and its attendant insecurity challenges which have bedeviled our nation for ages.
Come on Nigerians lets’ all join hands with Hon Alabi to make Nigeria great again!!!