Current federal arrangement bane of LGs growth —ALGON boss
Delta State chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Sir Itiakpo Ikpokpo, has decried the current federal arrangement as responsible for the parlous state of local government areas in the country.
The Delta ALGON boss described, as archaic and unsustainable, an arrangement in which an entity takes a whopping 56 per cent revenue share and gives 776 constituent parts put together a paltry 20 per cent.
This, he noted, explained the near collapse of all sectors of the economy.
He said in order to justify its bogus 56 per cent share of the country’s revenue, the Federal Government has taken over all aspects of governance and services, including rural health care, birth registration and markets, even when it can hardly manage them.
Ikpokpo wondered why a minister in Abuja should dictate where to site a primary health centre in a community or a Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) project in Isoko South.
According to him, over 40 per cent of roads in the country are within local governments, yet they are referred to as federal or state roads.
“Several core functions and internal revenue heads of the local governments have been hijacked by the overbearing Federal Government owing to its excessive powers and domineering attitude.
“They now collect monies for birth registration through the Nigeria Population Commission even in our rural health centres, leaving the local governments with collection of bicycle levies.
“The question is, are people still riding bicycle?” Ikpokpo queried.
He said that the greatest challenge facing the third tier of government was the meagre 20 per cent share of federal allocation to the 776 local governments in the country which he described as grossly inadequate to meet the payment of salaries, let alone basic social amenities.
He argued that the disproportionate sharing formula for the nation’s revenue is a threat to the existence of local government councils.
He, however, emphasised that until a conscious effort was made to re-engineer the local government system in areas of funding and functions, much might remained unachieved for a long time.
Sir Ikpokpo, therefore, appealed to the NULGE and all other stakeholders to join hands with ALGON in its call for urgent fiscal restructuring and devolution of the powers of the Federal Government as the only panacea for the continued existence of the local government system in the country.