By David Lawal
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, former Governor of Osun State has expressed disappointment at the over dependence of Local Governments in Nigeria on allocations from the Federal Government.
The former Governor stated this in his goodwill remark at a One-Day Dialogue with the theme, “2023 and Beyond: Tracking Campaign Promises for Good Governance” organised by NPO Reports in Abuja.
As also contained a press statement distributed by the Media Adviser to the former Governor, Mr Sola Fasure, he noted that local governments, though closest to the people are overly dependent on the federation’s account for funding.
“Why is Nigeria having challenges? It is simple! We have no revenue. A country of 200 million with less than 10 per cent working and productive and you think there will be development? No! Development is impossible. There is no revenue. Even our per capital income from oil, assuming nothing is even taken out of it, is nothing.
“There is a knowledge gap, and I don’t want to sound self-righteous. There is a lot of confusion but there should be no confusion. Nigeria is not the only federation in the world. Australia is a federation.
“India is a federation; America is a federation as well as Brazil. How are other federations run? There is no third tier of government in a federation. There are only two tiers of government in a federation. We need to educate ourselves on what a federation is.
“How are federations run and why should our own be different? Why are the local governments not working in Nigeria? Why are local governments working in India? Why are they working in Germany and America? They are not working here because they are not self-sustaining. Counties and City councils which are the equivalent of local governments fund themselves.
“They only live on handouts here and that is where the challenge comes from. What is wrong is not what the media is looking at. No recipient of the handout can be responsible.
”They really have no business waiting for handouts every month from the central government. The Local Councils must generate revenue to drive development at that level. No local government will be accountable with handouts. Charity doesn’t make people responsible.
“People can hardly hold a government accountable, whose funding they are not responsible for. This applies to state governments too.
“All the erudite scholars who spoke have done adequate academic justice to the topic. There is knowledge gap about governance in Nigeria.” Aregbesola said.
Speaking on the theme for the event, he noted that there are mechanisms within government structures to regularly track government activities.
“When I was the governor in Osun, I created a government department called the Bureau of Social Services with the acronym ‘BOSS’, to track government programmes, projects and interventions.
“I also had a Policy and Economic Team (PET) to track projects and initiatives of my office. I also engaged private social, political and economic consultants to do the performance monitoring and perception review.”
He, however, added that beyond the tracking of these projects, the next thing was tracking productivity.
“Before we can track productivity, we must mobilise Nigerians for productivity. I heard some speakers talking about tracking the productivity of all tiers of government.
Ogbeni Aregbesola commended the convener of the dialogue, Mr Semiu Okanlawon, CEO and Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of NPO Reports for his professionalism and vision in media practice.
He urged Okanlawon to continue to stand for the best tradition of responsible journalism which is known for.
Earlier in his goodwill remark, Chairman of the event and former governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, established the importance for citizens and Civil Society organizations (CSOs) to track campaign promises but also maintained that the state has its apparatuses. He further pointed out that there are factors that may, however, be responsible for why some campaign promises are not fulfilled.
“He said that while in office, he “As Governor of Ekiti State, I had a very efficient Monitoring and Evaluating Unit that tracked all government projects. You need to know that every campaign promise was made with good intention to deliver, but sometimes politicians cannot fulfil their some promises due to factors totally out of their control.”
The former Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr. Fayemi stressed that sometimes the realities in government do not align with the vision of an intending political officeholder until elected. “When elected, you will be shocked to find out that the realities in government cannot support the delivery of the promises made. It is a sad reality and the struggle to deliver begins from there.”