A leading member of a Friends of Democracy (FOD), a pressure group, Malam Suleiman Gora, has called on all the states yet to pass the Bill on Local Government Autonomy into law to do so without further delay, to unlock the potentials of the hinterland, as the nation approach the 2019 general elections.
Gora, a retired Federal Director, who made the call at a media parley to sensitize the electorate on elections and local government autonomy in Kaduna, stressed the need for the passage of the all important bill by states yet to key into what he said, would go a long way in rekindling the drowning spirit of the rural poor.
He revealed that it was regrettable that only nine states, Plateau, Bauchi, Benue, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Cross River, Sokoto and Bayelsa have been able to pass LG bill into law.
While allaying fears expressed by some quarters over misapplication and misappropriation of local government revenue, Gora pointed out that autonomy would grant local government administrators the much needed authority to take government closer to the rural poor in all ramifications.
“Fears about financial recklessness and mismanagement may be understandable, but I can assure you that the new approach would be thoroughly dependable on water tight internal controls which would block all loopholes and possible leakages”, he explained.
He maintained that with such provision local councils would even attract more revenue from the centre, especially when citizens get involved in monitoring the implementation of projects and holding local government administrators to account.
Also speaking, State Team Leader, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), Mr Abel Adejor expressed satisfaction with the turnout of media practitioners at the event and appealed to them to leverage on existing social media platforms to sensitize all and sundry, so that gradually the people would get more and more interested in the electoral cycle as well as the merits of local government autonomy for the overall good of the society.
The one-day media dialogue convened by PERL in collaboration with UKaid was put together to look at the role of the media vis-a-vis the electorate, civil society organizations and other critical stakeholders in the electoral cycle to increase citizens voice before, during and after elections.