It is worth knowing that the Kwara state House of Assembly dominated mostly by members of the All Progressive Congress(APC) have been very poor in performance.
I will give one example to back my point, which is the case for Local government autonomy. So far iI Nigeria today, only 20 states assemblies have considered the bill in regards to Local Government Autonomy. Only 16 of those states voted in support of Local Government autonomy and 4 did not vote in support of it.
The public ought to know that up until now none of the members of the Kwara state house of assembly has sponsored that bill. Yet they claim to have formed a progressive government. At a time when our country is yearning for restructuring, this should be a priority.
For a state that actually wants significant growth and development, the local government is very instrumental to achieving that. However it is sad that in Kwara state today, the public has almost forgotten the role of the House of Assembly.
Rather than carrying out their duties as the voice of their constituents in the Parliament, they have remained silent for the past 4 years feasting on their sumptuous salaries and allowances. They have completely abandoned their roles as lawmakers to become an extension of the executive arm of government. The big question is where is the principle of check and balance? When they bow to the wishes and wants of the Governor.
Their role as legislators is to make laws that will enable growth and development to the state. They also carry the responsibility of making sure the executive arm of government led by the governor is on track with doing what is right.
Today we see our lawmakers wallowing around with the Governor instead of carrying out their duties, which is the main reason they were voted for. It is not just about constituency projects which majority of them have also failed in. It is about quality representation. If you ask a lot of people today in kwara how many laws have been passed by the Kwara state house of assembly, most people will tell you maybe 4 or even none at all, because they do not know. This is because they are not known to be doing anything significant in the parliament. And it is worth knowing that most of our laws in the state need critical reforms. Those reforms can only be carried out by quality and qualified thinkers, who understand the assignment in front of them.
Not to deviate too much from the core of this article which centres on Local Government Autonomy. One of the main reasons why we have not seen significant development in Nigeria today is because our local government authorities remain subjects of the state government, which is not meant to be so. We practice a federal system in Nigeria but we have failed to adopt a lot of her principles. Take the United States of America as an example, they have counties and municipal government authorities. They all function independently without interference from the state government.
The purpose of the local government mostly is to drive development at the grassroots. An effective local government authority indicates that government policies and activities will reach the populace. In another word, the smooth running of society needs to be addressed from the grassroots through adequate representations, policy formulations, implementations, and equitable distributions of resources and services.
However, in Kwara state today our local governments are under the control of stooges appointed by the Governor to oversee the affairs of the local government. Another question this is asking is where are the funds meant for the local government going. And why is the state government carrying out the duties of the local government? The state government is being overburdened by these adopted methods of running the state by the APC led administration.
The local government autonomy bill is vital to our growth as a state and as a nation. In a true federal system, a Governor should not have the power to sack a local government chairman. Because this is synonymous to the President sacking a Governor. Some people will want to debate this, but that is my take.
Since 2020, Kwara state has not conducted local government elections. This is because the Governor has failed to let it happen. However, if the local government is autonomous the Governor will not have the power to that.
Kwarans and Nigerians should think carefully before electing people and parties. Some of the candidates vying for various posts do not even know their duties. And it is obvious from what we are seeing now. The results of the 2019 elections are what we are experiencing today. We have a lot of incompetent people holding critical political positions. If we fail to vote wisely in the 2023 elections, it will be another Waterloo for us.
The legislative arm is as important as the executive arm. These two arms of government need to function well and independently to achieve any significant development in a state, because they both have their separate duties. No arm of government should be an extension of the other. They are meant to check and balance each other, but not to be a subordinate of each other. Those are the true principles of a federal system of government, and it is only when we get this right that our states will start seeing significant development. Elected offices are not meant to be compensations for philanthropy or goodness. Those we are electing need to possess the capacity to perform.
You can be a very good man, but not a very good administrator. You can be a very successful businessman and philanthropist, but when it comes to governance you will fail woefully. Governance in general requires a lot of thinking outside the box. It is not a straightforward path especially in the world of today when everything is moving fast.
Farid Abdulrazzaq Sholagberu (LLB Brunel University London, LLM University of Law Bloomsbury)