Human Development Initiatives (HDI), has expressed dissatisfaction with the administration of funds by Local Government Executives in Lagos. The Executive Director, Bolaji Owasanoye, during a press briefing held in Lagos and widely publicized in the media wondered why the Local Government Councils do not make their budgets public; why there is no conversation with the constituents on them and why their execution is not often reviewed.
He said that the councils should be able to clarify how much they are spending on salary, development and capital expenditure from their budgets.
According to him, “we want the local government to work with community development associations to know what the people need. This will enable the citizens to have a voice in the way local government budget is prepared and implemented.
”What is clear to us is that the local government is not regarded, yet they are the closest to the people and the shortest and most efficient route to development. If we are going to develop the system, then we must develop our local government councils because they are the ones that will bring the immediate development to the people in terms of health, education, water and good roads,” he said.
LGA Budget Watch groups were created to work closely with the people in their communities and Local Government official in bringing the desired development to the grassroots. Unfortunately, community involvement in budget development and implementation is a big set back to grassroots development. Owasanoye said, aims at creating a platform to justify and create more recognition for the local government system, as very few people know what is happening there.
“We do not follow the review of the budget allocated to them and yet, they get more money although it is not adequate. But then, they should use the little well and account for it. We all follow the review on the allocation of resources to the states and the federal government, but here is none for the local government and they are given money annually. This is increasing the level of corruption and non-tolerance in the country. Citizens should come out and voice it that they want to know how their money is being spent. We need to remove secrecy from how the local government runs and bring up a structure that prescribes how it should be,” he added.
He called on lawmakers to make laws accessible with penalty on any local government that fails to report their budgetary spending.
A senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Dayo Ayoade, added: “We must be able to find transparency and accountability in the local government system. This is not in prevalence because the people don’t ask questions, an attitude that is borne out of lack of information; hence, the democratic participation of the citizens is not there. To ensure that the local government have reporting obligations, they should be compelled by the law to report their budget”, he said.
Budget watch programme officer of HDI, Mr. Samuel Ajayi noted that there is high level of corruption at the local government level and the attitude with which the funds are being used is of great concern. This is increasing the level of poverty in our society, he said.