Posted by By Charles Ozoemena on
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday met with chairmen of the 774 local governments nationwide, condemning the alleged ambushing and hijacking of funds meant for the development of local governments by state governments and some powerful individuals in their states. He specifically warned the chairmen to note of the implications of god-fatherism and avoid such relationship.
ABUJA— PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday met with chairmen of the 774 local governments nationwide, condemning the alleged ambushing and hijacking of funds meant for the development of local governments by state governments and some powerful individuals in their states. He specifically warned the chairmen to note of the implications of god-fatherism and avoid such relationship.
The President tasked the local government chairmen to henceforth lay emphasis on agricultural development and food security, small and medium scale businesses as well as physical and human infrastructure developments.
He was certain that should these sectors be well developed and harnessed it would reinvigorate and make life better for the Nigerian populace. He, therefore, urged them to develop a holistic and modern approach to agriculture by taking full advantage of the presidential initiative in that sector that covers cassava, livestock, rice, tree crops, vegetable oil, maize, catfish and yam.
President Obasanjo enumerated the implications of denying local governments their funds and emphasized that the Federal Government was completely opposed to any policy, written or otherwise, that deprived 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?” he asked and lampooned some of the chairmen who he said complicated their situations even before coming to office.
He said: “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 chairmen and councillors. These are some of the drawbacks in our political culture that we want to eliminate.”
Obasanjo challenged the local government chairmen to be at the driver's seat of giving meaningful development on their people, suggesting that they focus on not only agriculture but also on development of small and medium scale enterprises as well as physical and human infrastructure.
He regretted that rather than being beacons of development at the grassroots level, many local governments have remained islands of inefficiency, ineffectiveness, political indiscipline, arrogance of power, insensitivity, misplaced priorities and poor leadership; stressing “Local governments have strayed very far from their original or historical goals.
“It is a pity that we have so reified 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 alter of political expediency and materialism. We owe our people, country and creator a duty to retrace our steps,” he said.
He used the opportunity to underscore the importance of the proposed political reform, explaining that the reform agenda will reposition Nigeria for the generation and sustenance of new democratic values and sustainable development.
“The forthcoming political reforms are aimed at reducing to the barest minimum political corruption, 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 quality 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 said.
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