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Empowering Communities: Why Local Government Autonomy Matters

By Victor Okebunmi

The Federal Government’s recent lawsuit against all 36 state governments for failing to grant local governments autonomy reveals a deeper issue in Nigeria’s political landscape. State governments’ resistance to local government autonomy stems from a fear of losing power and resources if local governments become more independent.

It is puzzling that state governments are hesitant to grant autonomy to local governments, despite the numerous benefits it would bring. Local governments are the closest tier of government to the people, and autonomy would enable them to respond more effectively to community needs. With control over their finances and decision-making processes, local governments could tackle local issues with greater efficiency and accountability.

Currently, state governments receive federal allocations and disburse a portion to local governments, often with strings attached. This arrangement has led to a lack of development at the local level, as state governments dictate how funds are spent. The result is a waste of resources, with little meaningful development to show for it.

Moreover, state governments spend significant resources on conducting local government elections, which could be better utilised for development projects. Ironically, state governments are willing to spend money on elections but hesitant to grant autonomy, which would allow local governments to truly serve their communities.

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It is time for the National Assembly and the Presidency to take decisive action and grant local government autonomy. This would enable local governments to receive allocations directly from the federal government, without state government interference. It would also promote grassroots development, as local governments would be empowered to prioritise projects that benefit their communities.

In conclusion, state governments’ fear of losing control over funds and power is driving their reluctance to grant local government autonomy. However, prioritising the needs of the people and promoting development at the local level is crucial. We urge the National Assembly and the Presidency to act swiftly and grant local government autonomy, bringing government closer to the people.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
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