Leave us to Choose Our Elected Leaders
”Do we care about the people…? Until we decide as a people to say these are the irreducible minimum… these people will get away with anything whether you grant them autonomy or not.”
Dr Doyin Adedeji, a Political Analyst, made the above remark this morning in a discussion programme on TVC News. The programme focused on today’s Local Council elections in Lagos State. The election is being held for the first time in about five (5) years, to elect Chairmen and Councillors into twenty (20) existing Local Governments and thirty seven (37) Local Council Developing Areas across that state.
Dr. Adedeji stated that although local government autonomy is necessary, it could lead to impunity if elected officials are left unguided. He added that currently, elected officials at the local government level meet only when allocations arrive from the Federation Account. According to him, these officials share such allocations among themselves and to their friends, at the expense of the citizenry. He submitted that this aberration would continue when autonomy is granted, if the electorate and elected officials remain unaware of their civic rights and responsibilities.
Similarly, Yomi Fawehinmi, a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily stated this morning that unlike Mayors and other elected officials in the United Kingdom and the United States of America who speak for distressed people, their colleagues at the local government level in Nigeria do not empathize with their constituents in times of distress. He said that during the recent flood in parts of Lagos State, no Local Government Chairman made any public statement on that disaster. He also stated that no elected representative at the local government level in Epe, Lagos State, has made any public pronouncement on the kidnap of school children in that area. He said: ”We are not asking them anything. Therefore, they don’t have any sense of responsibility to give us anything.”
It would be recalled that in Cross River State, local government elections were billed to hold on June 17, 2017. The Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC) attributed the postponement to the ongoing INEC continuous voter registration exercise.
When the elections finally hold, Lincornellah’s blog hopes that people at the grassroots would be allowed to truly choose their representatives. The clamour for administrative and financial autonomy for our local government areas would remain a mirage when attained, if such representatives are handpicked by a selected few in cities and imposed on people in our localities.
- Cornelius Ellah