Friday, July 12, 2024

Ezekwesili, Nweke canvass decentralisation of power to LGs

The former education minister called for decentralising power from the federal to the local governments to speed up Nigeria’s development.

• June 14, 2024
Oby Ezekwesili
Oby Ezekwesili

A former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili, has called for decentralising power from the federal to the local governments to speed up Nigeria’s development.

Ms Ezekwesili made the call at a virtual democracy dialogue on LGA administration organised by Fix Politics Initiative on Thursday in Abuja as part of activities to mark the 2024 Democracy Day.

Ezekwesili, founder of Fix Politics Initiative, a citizen-led movement operating in Nigeria and other African countries, called for overhauling the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.

The ex-minister said, “We believe that foundationally, we have to correct these structural defects by making sure that the local government system is at the centre of the kind of constitutional changes that we are looking forward for. We are an organisation that has put our voice out there to say that, tinkering with the 1999 Constitution on the margins will not deliver the new Nigeria we all want; we all want a Nigeria that works for all of us.

“A Nigeria that works for all of us has to be designed by the people and where do you often find the real people, it is at the local communities. And so placing them at the centre of the design of a Nigerian project that works is fundamental; the Nigerian project will only work to the extent that the people are at the heart of it.”

Former information minister Frank Nweke Jr said citizens must remember their collective responsibilities to ensure good governance.

Mr Nweke, the chairman of the Fix Politic Initiative, said citizens should not only vote but also support their compatriots in government and jointly hold the government accountable.

He said that citizens must understand the various roles and responsibilities of all the government tiers in the country to track their performance effectively.

Oluwasesan Dayini, from Ebobobaiku Local Government Development Authority in Lagos, said that LGAs should receive special attention to make the people feel the impact of democracy. He said that no state could function without LGAs in spite of the current challenges of poor funding and limited administrative freedom, among others, faced by the third tier of government in the country.

Mr Dayini said citizens should, however, call for accountability by tracking budgetary provisions, which is more effective than waiting for anti-graft agencies.

A political activist, Aisha Yesufu, said citizens needed to be reoriented to make democracy work better. She said ordinary people, including children, should be allowed to be part of the decision-making process.

The activist said that in schools and religious gatherings, children should not be asked to shut up but make their contributions count based on their ability and understanding.

“By getting the children involved early, when they grow up, they will be able to effectively engage government and will not be intimidated or be blackmailed to keep mute for fear of being regarded as disrespectful,’’ she said.

Ms Yesufu said asking government officials questions did not amount to antagonism but should be regarded as an effort to ensure good governance.


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