Let's Talk About It

The innovation of governance at the grassroots, being propounded by the Rochas Okorocha administration in Imo State would appear to be the answer to most of the complaints by the citizen on the relevance of government to him.

The Federal Government is seen as something that has always been there with scarcely any contact with the ordinary citizen, except during Federal elections when people are asked to vote one aspirant or the other into the National Assembly,

The State Government is equally regarded as an esoteric creature whose influence on the life of a typical citizen is close to zero.

The Local Government, on the other hand, is widely perceived as the government nearest to the people, whose activities are expected to impact more directly on the citizenry.

But this has only been in theory, as both appointed and elected Councillors and their Chairmen see themselves as mere extensions or megaphones of the Government.

Our warped politics ensures that council legislators and their chief executives exercise no powers beyond paying salaries, and attending to the stake holders and political godfathers.

Funds that are meant for the councils, coming from the Federal Government, are routinely tampered with by the State Governments through which the funds are channeled.

Constitutionally, the State Governments are supposed to have a vote for the LG Councils as well.

But the States observe that obligation in breach and even help themselves with part of the Councils’ Federal Allocations. Because the officials of the Councils are appointed, as sole administrators, or transition committee chairmen, or even as elected personnel in contrived and shamelessly manipulated elections, independence of action is denied them.

They are mere puppets in the hands of the State Governors who put them in office.

They sign for monies that were not physically received, and distribute the remainder as instructed, after salaries.

Grassroots development by the LGs is thus impossible because there is no spare fund to execute any project, no matter how little and how relevant to the local community.

And now comes Governor Rochas Okorocha’s brainwave of Community Government Council, C.G.C, already being implemented, in spite of remonstrations by largely political opponents, who seem to be ashamed that the idea wasn’t from them, and from some civil servants obviously influenced by the politicians.

The labour movement has been pretty ambivalent, swearing and threatening hell-fire today, and approbating tomorrow.

This leaves their members bamboozled as to what to believe. That is why one hears or reads of a civil servant refusing to be transferred to his own community to help set up the Community Government.

You wonder whether these fellows are felons at home, afraid of prosecution if they show up at their places of birth!

My reading of the lips of advocates of Community Governance is that government now, because of its structure and funding, is condemned to succeed.

Unless a Community is so hopelessly accursed, there is no way the new C.G.C will not bring immediate progress and development to the individual resident in that environment.

The government believes its idea has to be actualized with the traditional rulers as the linchpin.

Without an alternative suggestion, critics have reviled the idea, claiming that as fathers, the traditional rulers should be insulated from the politics of the Community.

But the argument has come from the other side; what progress has been made both in the Local Government Areas and the constituent Communities all these years that the traditional rulers have not been involved?

There is no doubt that, as a new idea, the C.G.C will need some fine tuning and readjustments here and there in its implementation.

But a start has to be made with an open “Can do” spirit. Then in the course of time, obvious hitches and stumps, when encountered, will be dealt with.

What is most important is that basic needs the citizen expects from a government will now be provided by the empowered citizen himself as the government ceases to be a distant phenomenon but something in his grip.

Granted that even in heaven, there are likely to be found grumblers and sadists who see no joy in the happiness of others, Imo people should bestir themselves and give this new idea a try.

It is incumbent on every citizen to support this novel experiment of experiencing governance crawling and creeping to his doorsteps.

One is talking about grassroots upgrading and uplifting.

Politics comes into play only when it gets necessary 10 elect people into various offices of the C.G.C in future.

Promoters of the idea, for now believe partisan politics and bickering are not needed for the introduction of the Community Government Councils, hence the decision to let the fathers of the Communities supervise the system and help it stabilize.

Who knows, the rest of Nigeria might begin to do a pilgrimage to Imo State to understudy the grand idea of Community Government.

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