Deputy president of the senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has expressed that improving leadership performance at the grassroots will put Nigeria on the path of development.
Omo-Agege spoke on Wednesday at a national dialogue on local government and grassroots development in Nigeria, organised by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action, Nigeria), a civil society organisation, in Abuja.
He was represented by Chuba Okafor at the occasion.
The deputy senate president also called for local government autonomy across all states.
“It is commonplace that high crime rates, especially violent crime, insurgency, terror, banditry and brigandage are all traceable to a faulty grassroots governance structure,” he said.
“Related social vices, such as petty thieving and rebellion among the youth, can be traced to the collapse of family values. Even the high rate of break-ups of marriages can all be traced to a very faulty culture of community administration at the grassroots level.
“The same with the economic distortions associated with massive rural-urban drift and the unsatisfactory management of diseases that could be taken care of at the level of primary healthcare delivery.
“In all, it appears to me that attempts at devolution of power as far as the local governments are concerned have been mere de-concentration of power. Devolution carries with it, the garb of autonomy; such that local governments are answerable to the people that elect them, through the constitution and enabling laws.
“Also, and unfortunately, it appears that the institutions that will cause events that will translate into real local government autonomy are the same institutions benefitting from the present stranglehold on local government administration. Indeed, only a strong political will, will make them let go. We can only hope that the coming months, will tell.
“If we must get our development aspirations right, we must get local government autonomy by all legal means, for the local government remains the bastion of grassroots development in modern democracies.”