Posted by By Chesa Chesa, State House Correspondent, Abuja on
President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday met with heads of local councils and took them up on the widespread allegation of corrupt diversion of funds ring-fenced for upgrading living standards at the grass roots
President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday met with heads of local councils and took them up on the widespread allegation of corrupt diversion of funds ring-fenced for upgrading living standards at the grass roots.
He, however, stated that Aso Rock is equally opposed to policies aimed at denying councils of monies due to them by any higher tier of government.
Obasanjo upbraided the council bosses in Abuja for succumbing to pressures that deny their domains of allocated funds.
His words: “I must say that the Federal Government is completely opposed to any policy, written or otherwise, that deprives local governments and by implication the people of Nigeria, of their resources. If resources are waylaid or ambushed by other levels of government, how are you expected to pay salaries, create jobs, promote growth and development, and meet the basic needs of your people?
“Some of the local government leaderships set themselves up for easy intimidation and manipulation by not working together, lacking the political will to defend their positions, and compromising their mandates even before they got to office.
“I even heard of stories of sponsors who demand and receive regular monthly stipends from local government chairs and councilors. These are some of the drawbacks in our political culture that we want to eliminate through the political reform agenda that will reposition Nigeria for the generation and sustenance of new democratic values and sustainable development”.
He said many are intimidated by political entrepreneurs and many have been forcibly incorporated into a culture of political violence, corruption, intolerance, and general undemocratic conduct.
It is embarrassing to observe the level of political violence and indiscipline at the local level, even at the ward level, he stated. “So many shortcuts to power and extra-legal conducts are displayed that local governments have become a sample in bad role modeling for the young”.
But, Obasanjo explained, the forthcoming political reforms are aimed at reducing political corruption to the barest minimum, build new structures of accountability, promote positive leadership, eliminate political violence, contain political rascality and irresponsibility, involve the people in decision making, and strengthen the party system and political institutions.
“Political reform will also enable us to inculcate political discipline in the citizenry, open opportunities for qualify and merit to become the basis for identifying and presenting candidates for election to political office. This support can only be achieved with the support and full involvement of the leadership at the local level”.
He lamented that rather than being beacons of development at the grass roots, many councils remain islands of inefficiency, ineffectiveness, political indiscipline, arrogance, insensitivity, misplaced priorities and poor leadership. He also insisted that councils have strayed very far from their original or historical goals.
“It is a pity that we have so deified money in this country that we have jettisoned spirituality, honesty, hard work, transparency and accountability. We have sacrificed our dignity, credibility, even family values and family name on the altar political expediency and materialism”.
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