ABUJA /Nigeria: A Former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye and Nigeria’s Director-General, Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Abike Dabiri Erewa, have stressed the need for funds to be directly allocated to Local Government Councils in Nigeria, in-line with the newly introduced NFIU regulations, saying it would make the local government councils more viable and have the capacity to pay primary school teachers’ salaries, staff salaries as well as carry out development projects.
The duo made the assertion At Abuja, Thursday June 20, when Chairman of Warri South Local Government Area, Dr. Michael Tidi and few of his colleagues across the country, received the 2019 Rootswatch Distinguished Local Government Chairmen Merit Award.
While the Lagos State Ex- Deputy Governor, Prince Ogunleye, advised Local Government chairmen to live among people in their local government areas, in order to know their challenges and device ways of addressing them, Mrs. Erewa emphasized the need for local government councils as third tier of government to get their allocations directly from FAAC.
Earlier in an address, the Editor-in-Chief of Rootswatch Magazine and National Coordinator of Rootswatch Distinguished Local Government Chairmen Merit Award, Mr. Bayode Ojo, explained that the award was instituted about eighteen years ago, as part of core mandate of repositioning local government for service delivery through reward system.
According to him, Rootswatch award has cut a niche for itself by ensuring that processes leading to the choice of winners are credible by ensuring that members of the public who are the direct beneficiaries of the stewardship of the council chairmen are involved in the rigorous screening processes, from nomination in response to advertisements in National Dailies as well as Electronic Media.
He stressed that the awardees, “have truly impacted positively on their council areas” and therefore worthy of the honour.
“Let me use this opportunity to appreciate the leadership of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, Senate and House of Representatives Committee on States and Local Government Affairs for their support to our organization over the years.
I want to end this address by commending the bold effort of President Muhammadu Buhari and the newly inaugurated Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU in the move at liberating the local government through the recently released guidelines aimed at halting the continuous pillage of cash allocated to local government by the state governments. Financial autonomy is a panacea to problem militating against accelerated development at the grassroots.
We also enjoin the local government administrators not to abuse this opportunity when the autonomy is fully operational”, Mr. Ojo emphasized.
Achievements of the Dr. Tidi led administration in the last one year and five months that informed the award include, but not limited to the following: Installation of CCTV Camera and Light-Fittings at the Warri South Council Main Secretariat, Warri, refurbishing of Patrol Van for the Police at ‘A’ Division, Warri, expansive/Daily Environmental Sanitation activities on both Warri City Centre and the Riverine Areas of the Local Government Area, committing huge resources on Peace Building and Engagement with Security Agencies in the Local Government Area, servicing traditional institutions in the Local Government Area via robust engagement, historic takeover of Ogbe-Ijoh Market, Warri, after several years of business activities in the market premises, procurement of Waste Disposal Truck, payment of inherited staff salary arrears of several months, donations to enhance the welfare of inmates at Warri Prison as well as ensuring adequate provision of drugs and utilities to health centres within the Local Government Area.
On efforts to diversify the council’s revenue, Dr. Tidi’s administration is in partnership with Ugbo-Olaja Integrated Farms along Warri River, to cultivate a farm settlement, situated in over 6 hectares of land. The essence is to create job opportunities.
His administration has also streamlined the internally generated revenue base of the council, with a view to expanding the tax net and blocking leakages.
The Vice Chairman of Warri South Local Government, Chief (Mrs.) Divine Iniovosa, Head of Personnel Management of the Council, Mr. Douglas Akambe, Treasurer to the Local Government Council, Mr. Otighi Sunday, Chief Information Officer of the Council, Mr. Metsese Ebule as well as aides of Dr. Tidi, accompanied him to receive the prestigious award.