Ex-Envoy, Isola Advocates Citizens Participation In LG Administration

Fawaz Adebisi

In a thought-provoking address at the Annual Departmental Lecture of Fountain University, Osogbo, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, the immediate past Nigerian High Commissioner  in the United Kingdom, has emphasised  the critical importance of citizen participation in local government administration.

Isola, delving into the theme “Local Government Administration: Panacea for Development in Nigeria,” highlighted the formidable challenges obstructing the growth trajectory of local government councils nationwide.

Among the litany of obstacles outlined by the seasoned diplomat were financial constraints, corruption and mismanagement, inadequate manpower, lack of autonomy, intergovernmental conflicts, inadequate planning, poor policy implementation, and low citizen participation.

Financial Constraints emerged as a significant stumbling block, with Isola lamenting the meager allocation of resources to local government councils.

 He criticized the current revenue allocation formula, which earmarks a mere 20.6% for the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, labeling it as “grossly inadequate.” 

Isola further decried the siphoning of funds by some state governments, exacerbating the financial plight of local councils and impeding their ability to deliver essential services.

Corruption and Mismanagement emerged as twin demons, thwarting effective governance at the grassroots level. 

Isola castigated the misappropriation and mismanagement of scarce resources, emphasizing the imperative of fostering transparent and accountable practices for sustainable development.

Inadequate Manpower emerged as another formidable hurdle, with Isola highlighting the reluctance of skilled personnel to serve in rural areas where many local government councils are situated. 

He called attention to the dearth of essential facilities for effective living and the lack of adequate training for council employees, underscoring the urgent need for capacity building initiatives.

Lack of Autonomy emerged as a recurrent theme, with Isola decrying undue interference from higher tiers of government, which curtails decision-making autonomy at the local level. 

He highlighted the usurpation of responsibilities by federal and state agencies, depriving local government councils of their mandate and inhibiting grassroots development.

Intergovernmental Conflict also reared its head, with Isola warning against conflicts that often arise between local, state, and federal government administrations, stymying progress and hindering cooperation and coordination efforts.

Inadequate Planning emerged as a critical deficiency, with Isola lamenting the lack of long-term development planning by most local councils. 

He criticized the short tenure of local government councils, which he argued, hampers effective harmonization of community economic development plans and strategies.

Poor Implementation of Policies further compounded the challenges, with Isola highlighting the lack of continuity in programs and the absence of effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure desired objectives are achieved.

Isola, however, struck a hopeful note by advocating practical solutions to address these entrenched challenges. 

He urged local government councils to prioritize citizen participation, transparency, and accountability, while also emphasising the need to entrench democratic values, promote good governance, enhance financial resources, invest in capacity building, and strengthen intergovernmental relations.

Isola emphasized that sustainable development at the grassroots level hinges on collaborative efforts and active engagement from all stakeholders, underscoring the imperative of fostering a conducive environment for local governance processes to thrive.

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