Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan
Leaders in Nigeria have been urged to learn the art and discipline of democracy and cultivate the habit and virtue of honesty.
The Vice-Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan Branch, Mr. Ibrahim Lawal made the call while delivering a lecture themed; ‘Grassroot Democracy As Fulcrum for National Development and Good Governance,’ in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
Mr Lawal traced the political history and democratic sojourn of the country since its inception.
He said; ”the absence of democratic ethics and norma had affected national development in the country to a great extent.
“The country principally has remained a third world and dependent country in crisis of various kinds which is not making any progress forward or development.The uproar over resource control, power shift, revenue allocation, sharia issue, rotational presidency, creation of more states, terrorism, insecurity, etc, are evidences of lack of democratic ethics and norma in the Nigerian society.”
Mr Lawal said that for development to thrive in Nigeria, the attitude and orientation of its political elites must be changed.
While making a case for repositioning the local governments for enhanced performance and development, the lawyer identified ”lack of constitutional provision that would guarantee local government autonomy, incessant interference in local government affairs by state governments, joint account syndrome, frequent dissolution of the local council by the state governments and lack of free and fair elections at the grassroot,” as some of the challenges facing the third tier of government.
Mr Lawal noted that the challenges have undermined the ability of the local government councils to deliver on their mandates, especially in the provision of social services to rural communities.
The lawyer therefore recommended constitutional reforms to ensure that the local governments have direct and unfettered access to the statutory allocations from the federation account and their share of internally generated revenue.
“That elections at specific intervals are conducted into local government councils and with outright prohibition of any other alternative arrangement to administer the local government and that the statutory allocation from the federation account is increased from the present 20 to 30 percent or more,” he stated.
Mr Lawan concluded that to fight corruption at the council level, the judiciary and anti-corruption agencies must intensify efforts with the introduction of more effective anti-corruption clauses and fraud detecting mechanism.
He also reiterated the need to ensure the conduct of free and fair elections through which people could get into power on the basis of perceived honesty and ability to deliver democracy dividends to rural and grassroot people.
The event was organised by the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Oyo State Chapter, to commemorate the June 12 Democracy Day.
The event was attended by council chairmen of all the local government areas and local council development authorities, media practitioners, socio cultural groups, residents from all over the state and community leaders, among other stakeholders.