Chief Supo Shonibare is a legal practitioner and leader of Afenifere and he speaks on what can be done to make the local government viable.
‘As a nation we have been battling the centrifugal forces and those convinced of the need for devolution of powers to a more devolved entity, which, in effect, means the people.
Most of the local government reforms have attempted to consolidate the contraption of centrifugal forces. They use fictitious population count to justify local government creation and even produced an incurably defective constitution, which in an attempt to pay homage to centrifugal forces, after rightly conferring the powers to create local government to the states, then in the same breadth requires the National Assembly to make inconsequential returns to make the act complete.
So, states in effect can only commence the act, but the act will be inchoate until the National Assembly makes consequential returns. The fact that local government creation at the moment is a function of political expediency rather than economic viability itself encourages corruption. When the creation of local government is devolved and not on the National Legislative List, then we will begin to have more functional, catchment representative government at the local government level.
The unions have also not been helpful in always agitating for a uniform local government in a federal entity. We need to have a united front with Labour on the issue of devolution and not have Labour championing centrifugal forces’ agenda. With regard to corruption at local government level, if the state was alive to its watchdog functions in that regard, then the exercise of its prosecution functions will address instances of corruption at the local government level. Corruption only thrives at this level because of the connivance of state apparatus with the local government area governments. Local government must be autonomous of the state governments in exercising legislative and executive functions within its enumerated list. State governments much act as watchdogs only with regard to state prosecutorial agencies carrying out its investigative and prosecutorial duties in combating corrupt practices.