Wednesday, 13 June 2018

LOCAL GOVT AS AN INSTITUTION - A CALL FOR REORGANIZATION OF ESIT EKET LG


BY: Ubong Etang and Michael Alfred.

Background: A local govt (LG) is a form of public administration that exist at the lowest tier of administration within a given state. As an institution, LG generally act within powers delegated to them by legislation or directives of the higher govt, and in Federal States (e.g., Nigeria), it occupies the 3rd tier of govt, called govt at the grassroot.The LG commission was established under the LG service Act 1975 and came into operation on the 18th of August, 1983.

A REVIEW OF EELGA: Esit Eket LGA was created in 1989, primarily to bring the govt benefits closer to the people and also to ensure effective administration of resources.

As Nigerian citizens, obviously from one of the 36 states (& FCT Abuja) of the country, we also come from a family, a family we can run to first as the closest to us, which is our LG, Esit Eket. From this premise, it follows therefore that, we've full rights and privileges to enjoy optimally what EE has, the natural resources available, the companies, the royalties, benefits, dividends, among others that accrued to it, as bonafide and legitimate indigenes of this great LG. Without mincing words, the institution has long been diluted and rendered insipid. The reason for a call for reorganization!

ADMINISTRATIVE SET UP AND FUNCTIONS: Permit us to focus on the administrative setup, running and mgt of Esit Eket LG (EELG), rather than its history of creation. Administratively, there're 2 arms: the executive and the legislative arm.

The executive arm comprises, the LG chairman, vice chairman, supervisors and secretary. The chairman is the chief executive officer of the LG and presides over it. He's also accountable for some actions during his tenure in office.

The legislative arm also called the LG council, is made up of elected councillors, headed by the leader of the council.

Whereas we would not dwell on the functions of the above arms of the LG, let us at this juncture, bring to the knowledge of all EE sons and daughters, the functions EELG is expected to perform as enshrined in its working constitution. This will help to shade lights on the mgt of EELG, its responsibilities and avenues for generation of internal revenue. The responsibilities are enumerated inter alia:

Registration of birth, death and marriage certificate s

Construction and maintenance of roads, street drains, parks and open spaces, and other public highways.

Establishment, maintenance and regulation of parks, markets etc.

Naming of roads, streets and numbering of houses.

Provision and maintenance of public conveniences, sewages, public transportation, and refuse disposal.

Establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the infirmed and destitute.

Collection of taxes and fees

Licensing of motorcycles, canoes and trucks that are not mechanically propelled.

Control and regulation of outdoor advertising, shops, restaurants, kiosks, and other venues for sales of foods, bakeries and movement and keeping of pets

Assessment of privately owned houses for the purpose of levying rates that may be prescribed by the state house of assembly.

THE LACUNA: Gravely considered colossal and important points of discuss, are the problems in mgt and running of EELG council. Over the years, EELGC has failed in its responsibilities. What is peculiar is the usurp of power by few sets of people and mismgt of resources. Up teem times, people are appointed into the council and not properly elected in the spirit of true democracy, and so they end up running it as a private establishment. Recently, the results of last election which produced the incumbent LG members in Akwa Ibom State, EE inclusive, was announced before the actual election was conducted. 

In another scenario, particularly in EE, whoever wins the support of our sadistic elders or political godfathers is considered fit to function as chairman, without the confidence, approval and support of the electorates. Similarly, elections into various offiices in the council follow suit. This trend is what is truncating the growth of our LG council, as these ghost leaders are under duress to compensate these political bigwigs at the detriment of the masses and development of the community. 

For instance, it is on record that, refusal of the out gone chairman of the council to share money that accrued to the council with our so called political leaders, is the reason behind all sort of condemnation, sabotage and character assassination he's facing now. As a man of high standard who is poised to follow the footstep of his late father in leaving behind an indelible footprint on the sands of time, went ahead and built a well-furnished magnificent structure at the council Secretariat. What others rebuffed!

Another discernible area of administrative lapse is in the day to day running of the council. The chairman and his cabinet live away from the LG and can only be seen in office when allocation comes in. This is the time for scrambling and struggling for a sharing formula, without thinking of any project to execute for the good of the community.

Our markets are in shambles and motor parks non existent, or conveniently flooded by miscreants and hoodlums, orchestrating all sorts of atrocities, ranging from public inconveniences to genocide (mostly at Christmas) as seen among Etebi group of villages. Where is the synergy or harmonious working relationship between EELG council and EE council of chiefs/elders/village heads? This has been consigned to oblivion. The only existing relationship is in areas of stealing and embezzlement of public funds by our leaders.

In another development, the youths of EE are not carried along by elders and leaders alike in areas of administration/governance., except during elections where they'll be contacted to perpetuate malevolence for them to secure political office, or as tenable in Etebi EE, in what could be described as "Clash of the Titans" for Akwa Palm Supremacy.

We're crying for industrialization, when we have a huge industry-Akwa Palm Industry that needs revamping. This is the area our leaders should act spontaneously and accordingly, especially those who have been opportuned to be in the legislative arm of govt. at state and national levels, by proposing a bill on this subject, or at least awakening govts' consciousness, by mentioning it at plenaries. We believe the negligence and expression of laser fair attitude, is connected to the fear of longevity of the industry in terms of profit actualization in lieu of the immediate gains envisaged by the parties concerned, as they are used to getting immediate returns on investments.

SOLUTION: We'd end here by mentioning possible ways to strengthening EELG for repositioning and inclusive governance. These we believe would foster effective service delivery through equitable distribution of resources with concomitant development in manpower, social, educational and economic spheres.

?Firstly, permit us to borrow a leaf from the modus operandi in the choice of leaders into various positions of our amiable LG council. The reason why youths no longer savour the beauty and serenity of their LG of origin is tied to this ignominious act. In order for the institution to be strengthened, influence from our elders and political godfathers should not overshadow that of the masses (villagers) in the choice of who to rule or lead them. We therefore agitate for inclusive governance. This must start today!

?Secondly, the responsibilities of the council should be handled optimally by people in authority. Shabby and cunning approach to gaining appraisals from youths by attending burial/ wedding ceremonies without embarking on any tangible project throughout the tenure in office should be abrogated. Although this is not condemned in its entirely, the onus here is that, it should not be done in pretense to the major issues that ought to be tackled, as such is regarded as inconsequential, trifling or paltry. They should work collaboratively with relevant persons and agencies within and outside the LG to achieve the desired results.

Thirdly, employment into EELG council should not be done in clandestine, where sentiments and recommendations become the yardstick for job placement in council. Focus should be on educated EE indigenes and other talented and skilled individuals who can bring about innovative ideas that can transform the council at the long run. In order words, recruitment into the LG should be open and all should be given equal opportunity.

Fourthly, because EELG is an institution at the grassroot level, it should provide a level playing ground for all political parties. Differing interest and opinion should not militate against the proper running of the council.

Fifthly, our leaders and elders should consider making EELGA economic hub of the state, by seeking possible avenues to ensuring that Akwa Palm Industry is revamped. Proposals should be drafted to include the hitherto functionality and economic potentials of the industry together with a revamping plan to serve as a concrete evidence on the capacity of the abandoned industry to boost the economic sector, solve the problem of unemployment among others, if considered by the state and federal govts. On this, we pray that all hands must be on deck.

Lastly, it should be noted that where there's no peace, there's no development. Internal crises between villages in EE should be settled. Conflict resolution is best achieved through dialogue, arbitration, conciliation, mediation, negotiation, collaborative law and other methods. Institutions saddled with the responsibility of resolving internal crises should do so, as a means to end division, sentiment, hatred and disharmony amongst villages, kinsmen/decision-makers and other reputable personalities in EE.

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Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of Isaac Yoma