The Administration of Murtala Mohammed in 1975 initiated the process of local government reforms Decree No 32 of 1975 (10), the goal of the government then was to fast track development in the rural areas. It was the belief at that time that reforming the system will enhance development at the local level, and give the grassroots confidence in the government that serves them.
Despite the justification for the establishment of Local Government and its inevitable importance to the people at the grassroots level, this arm of government seems not to have lived up to the expectations of many.
In this Interview Mr. Terna Kester Kyange a special adviser to the Benue State governor on Special Duties and an aspirant for the Chairmanship position at the Logo LG in the forthcoming elections on Saturday, reveals his plans and reforms for the Local Government, with the Editor In Chief of the PSN Femi Soneye. With his robust visionary package for the LG, if morning is a good indicator of the night, it is not difficult to predict that if elected, Logo LG will witness economic, political and social progress under him.
Why has Local Government not lived up to its expectations?
I quite agree with you to an extent that it has not lived up to the expectations of the founding fathers, and it has under achieved in the area of fast tracking development in the local level. In order for LG to bring visible developments to the grassroots, there is the need for the LG’s to have strong economic base, and the participation of not only the elected LG officials but everyone in the community.
The expediency for the creation of local government in Nigeria stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. The importance of local government is a function of its ability to generate sense of belongingness, safety and satisfaction among its populace. These benchmarks are lacking in most LG, and not forgetting the fact that Local Government is faced with many difficulties.
What are the Causes of these seemingly Conspicuous Weaknesses?
Lack of visionary leadership at the Local Government level is one of the banes of the LG. Most of the leaders are ill prepared for the task at hand.
Without a proper blueprint and vision they lack the skills required to tackle the challenges of service delivery and mobilisation of human and material resources required for effective functioning and meaningful developments to their areas.
The problems of the LG are multifarious in nature, one other aspect that I intend to look into if elected is the orientation of the people; most people do not know the reasons why the LG were created. Some regard it as avenues for sharing the national cake, as a result underdevelopments continue to wage as people are either ignorant of or indifferent to the reasons for which they were created. The grassroots need to be enlightened when it comes to voting in their leaders. When you vote leaders with vision, integrity and quality there is bound to be dividends.
Some people have suggested that the dearth of skilled, technical and professional workers in the LG’s is a major hindrance to development.
I believe in qualitative manpower, workers in the LG are the engine room, but not all workers in the LG’s must be skilled, yes we need skilled, so also we need unskilled manpower too. The most important thing is to have effective leadership at every department; every leader must be exemplary in their actions.
Laissez-faire attitude to work has arrested the efficiency of local government and has drastically affected its performance, once there is general discipline and workers resume work at the appropriate time and closes at the designated time, and performs their functions, development will come. Like I said earlier the orientation of the people need to change.
What are your goals for Logo LG?
I want to transform Logo Local Council, I want to make a difference in governance, throughout the area, residents share unanimity of opinion: that they desire a change. If am elected, I am coming in with a clear vision of what I intend to do, I have identified certain areas of human and economic growth that have been neglected or need to be overhauled. Primary health care, Sanitation, Portable drinking water and Education are immediate focus.
Primary health care need to be overhauled and taken to the next stage, I will give primary health care an unlimited priority, I have come to realize that it is only when the human resources are healthy that the people can harness the materials we have and work with the right attitude.
Part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal is to achieve Universal Primary Education, more specifically, to ensure that by 2015, Children are able to complete qualitative primary education.
Logo LG will not be left out; we want to ensure that if elected our children can compete with their peers across Nigeria and beyond.
I am going to introduce new approaches to long-term water planning, management and sanitation that incorporate principles of sustainability and equity. There is plan of access to basic amount of water necessary to maintain human health and to sustain ecosystems, basic protections for the renewability of water resources.