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LGs must be rescued from govs —OBJ

•Says no development without LG autonomy

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) has reiterated the  need for local governments to have an autonomous  status in the country.

He spoke at the International Conference on Politics, Security and Development organised by the Department of  Political Science and Administration, Babcock University, Ogun State.

He expressed dissatisfaction with what he called the negligence of the local government  system in the country over the years.

In his keynote address drawn from the theme of the conference and entitled: Forty  years of local government reforms and democratic  development in Nigeria: Critical perspective, the former president said until  local government system  was democratised and made more responsive to development needs, the expected  growth and development in the local government areas  in the country would remain elusive.

He noted that state  governments constituted the major obstacles to local government development by stealing their funds at source, while the tenure of local government chairmen  depended on the whims and caprices of the state governors.

He added that only a few states had held local government elections, while others have carried on as if it  was legal to run local government without the constitution that created them.

Worse still, he said, most governors floated the idea of appointing transition committees comprising their surrogates to oversee the affairs. This, he said, was a fraud.

He said: “Good leadership at the state and local government levels with integrity, dedication and  lack of corruption are what can make local governments work to achieve their purpose for the people.

“ But to be able to do these, local governments have to be led by men and women of integrity who will understand the enormous challenges in the system and focus on primarily on issues that would enhance the living standard of the masses.

“Therefore, the local government as a third tier of government should not be scrapped or changed to  local administration.

“Rather, it should be  strengthened and democratised. Officials of the local governments should always be elected and not appointed.

“While all Nigerians should come together to pray for the possibility of   reviewing  the constitution, local governments should engage in agricultural  production. The development would go a long way to boost production in the country.”