SUSTAINING VOICE FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVELS
Written by Samuel Ajayi
Human Development Initiatives is interested in the administration of the local government and its handlers, especially in terms of specific legislations covering welfare, education, health of the vulnerable members of the society, who constitute the largest population in Nigeria – the children, youths, women, widows, and the senior citizens. In doing this, the need to focus more on the use of resources by and policies of state governments is spot-on. According to the Federal Account Allocation Committee and media reports, the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria shared over N1.18trillion in year 2015 and up till March 2016, N146.068billion was shared among Local Governments across the country.
It is bad enough that states government are yet to pay salaries of Local Government workers for many months; much worse is the failure to provide basic social amenities. Although recently, some states have received bailout funds from the Federal Government for the payment of salaries owed in arrears, yet, these states have not resolved the payment of outstanding salaries till date. The million-dollar question then is how were these funds expended? If only Local Governments were given their allocation directly to meet obligations of providing basic needs such as water, and other rural infrastructures, with effective and efficient oversight by the State House of Assembly working with community groups, and developmental policies that drive revenue generation with transparency and accountability in the use of same, rural life would be better than the way it is today.
The role of state governments in achieving sustainable national growth, and development cannot be overemphasized. Hence, the need to replicate and implement good government policies and best practices in consonance with national goal at the federal level; otherwise, nothing will change for good for the common man. Open budget is an example. States must make their budgets transparent and be accountable to them; the budget process must be open to public participation.
This is a call to all citizens to engage and put pressure on our respective state governments to be transparent and accountable, while we persist in the clamour for Local Government Fiscal Autonomy. We prosper if our states and local governments prosper.