How Local Government Reforms Bring Development to Citizens in Kaduna
By: Femi Mustapha
The drafters of the Nigerian constitution assigned some roles to the local government councils to bring them closer to the people and speed up development at the grassroots in the spirit of democracy.
The Local government councils in Nigeria have their roles in the governance chain spelled out in the 1999 Constitution.
As the third tier of government, the constitution has listed some main functions of the local government councils enshrined in the law.
However, with unemployment and insecurity ravaging the land, it has become obvious that the 774 local councils recognized by the constitution and the numerous Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created by some states to drive development to the nooks and crannies of the country have fallen short of expectations.
Not many Nigerians reckon with local councils any longer despite their proximity to the people and the centrality of their roles in ensuring good governance.
Participants at a two-day Technical session to develop Advocacy and Tracking tools for Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and sustainability (LFTAS), organized by Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn (PERL) a Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), a UK-supported governance program, in collaboration with Kaduna Local Government Accountability Mechanisms (KADLGAM) held in Zaria are of the opinions that the Local Governments Councils are the best means to ensure people benefit from the government, especially in Kaduna State.
The Acting Director of Planning at the Ministry of Local Government, Mohammed Adamu said the 2018 Local Government reform law in the state gives Citizens the right to participate in the governance of the local council, stating that the local government council budget must have input from the citizens.
According to him, when citizens make their input in the budget, then the services that will be delivered to them will be the services nominated, therefore the Citizens own that particular service, to safeguard and ensure that the services provided by the government are working.
He added that the local government reform has opened the space for citizens to have a say in the way things are done in government.
The citizens have a lot to gain by involving objectively in engaging governance, and trying to participate in the governance processes because governance is all about the citizens.
He disclosed that in the 23 local governments, there are technical working groups from the Civil Society organizations with equal representation.
In his remark, Mr. Yusuf Ishaku Goje, of KADLGAM said the local government is a key important in the provision of services to the people because no government is closer to them like the LGA. Speaking of the Kaduna State, local government reform, Goje said the reform, especially LFTAS has helped in no small way to bring government closer to the people and enhance good governance, transparency accountability.
Goje further said, “The reforms have improved service delivery and standard living of citizens at the grassroots if implemented in the later.
The involvement of the civil society has given the process more credibility and an enabler for wider citizen’s participation and ownership.”
He, however, said the reform has some problems that need to be addressed for a successful service delivery to the people, which include communication and coordination gap which was evident in the administration of some LGAs during assessment. The majority of the LGAs have not bought into the adoption of technology to improve transparency and citizens.
Also speaking on the successes of the reforms, Mr. Abel Adejor the state Team lead of Pearl said his organization has since 2017 facilitated the training of Community Development Champions (CDC) who are currently working with the CDC focal person at the Planning and Budget Commission of Kaduna to upload the community needs through the citizen’s demand platform.
He stressed that as a result, citizens’ needs are transmitted from the Local Government Area to the Planning and Budget Commission, which has influenced the budget of the LGAs by about 50%.
He further noted that the average implementation of the Community Development Charter stands at about 35-48%, and for a development partner, that is a huge success for them.