The local government system was created in order to be a vehicle through which people at the grassroots will feel the impact of government. In other words, it was primarily to bring government closer to the people. But for a very long time, this purpose has not been realised due to the fact that most state governors, if not all, are feeding fat on local government administrations.
With a very clear aim at solving this problem, President Muhammadu Buhari in his wisdom signed an executive instrument to enable an effective and smooth delivery of local government administration through financial autonomy.
Pursuant to that instrument, the National Financial Intelligence Unit issued guidelines to that effect and the said instrument has been in force since June last year.
In their usual unpatriotic posture, the Governor's Forum instituted an action against NFIU at the Federal High Court to protect their selfish interest, not the interest of the governed.
The matter is still ongoing, however as at today the Federal Government sends the LGAs’ monthly allocation straight to their accounts following the NFIU guidelines.
As the matter before Federal High Court appears to be taking time, Governor of Gombe State is trying to play a smart one on local governments by creating a way through which the management of the funds for local councils can be under his management and control, thereby defeating the very essence of the Executive Order of Mr President and taking us back to where we were.
The governor sent an Executive Bill to the Gombe State House of Assembly for the creation of an agency to be known as Joint Project Development Agency.
May I submit humbly that this bill is evil, retrogressive, selfish and autocratic.
I call on all well-meaning members of the society to reject this bill in its entirety. I have identified the following as factors to be considered in rejecting this bill.
Although, the bill says it is voluntary for local government to participate in the so called project, we all know that it is a lie.
Presently, the local government councils are headed and managed by the governors' appointees, while some has refused to appoint nor conduct elections into the LG councils. So, where is the free will to decide whether to be a party to this evil bill or not? We all know the enormous influence the governors have on these guys. Even the so-called election is not short of a glorified selection.
Again, closely related to the above, the project is supposed to be the collective arrangement of all the local governments but it appears to be a state government affair wherein the state governor decides everything like an autocratic village king who answers to no one.
Furthermore, why are we going through the state's House of Assembly? If truly this is voluntary and mutual, why can’t the relationship be created and regulated by an agreement wherein all responsibilities of parties will be spelt out? Why use legislation when an agreement can do the work?
Very importantly is the fact that this agency is just a vehicle for financial waste and corruption. Why create an agency when the local government are ably and eminently qualified to carry out developmental projects for itself. Creation of this agency is an unnecessary burden on the local governments to the benefit of the governor and his cronies.
The next point is an issue that directly affects the people of Gombe South. The issue of composition of the governing council.
The members of the governing board include the governor, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Commissioner for Local Government, Commissioner for Finance; and Commissioner for Works.
Apart from the fact that these guys are the governor's appointees who dont have the nerve to say anything against the governor's interest, none of them is from Gombe South.
As a matter of fact, we have never had anybody assigned any of the above portfolios from the South except for the few times we have had one or two persons as Commissioner for Works and Local Government and these two cases were made so insignificant that we barely remember them.
So, this is a technical and political knockout for our people. The only people we have are the four local government chairmen who are under the jackboot of the governor.
The bill is coming up for public hearing on Monday, I call on all progressives to storm the Gombe State House of Assembly and accordingly reject this bill and send same back to Mr. Inuwa Yahaya.
But since it is the new normal to be fearful, it is loyalty not to criticise or question the government of the day, I know that my people will likely not do the needful, instead they may stay away and as usual pray for God to come down from heaven and do our work for us.
With that in mind, I assure you all that we will stop at nothing legally permissible to see that the four Gombe South Local Government officials are not part of this retrogressive project. We know exactly what to do if this bill is to see the light of the day.
We are aware that billions of naira are in our various local government accounts, the local governments do not need any agency to carry out its project.
This clearly shows the lack of creativity and pedigree on the part of the governor to look for new ways to generate sufficient revenue for the state. Any governor whose purpose is just to come to office and wait for Federal Government's monthly allocation is a disgrace and not different from beggars on the streets and not different from a person, who wants to reap where he did not sow.
I.Y. Melah wrote in from Abuja