By Gidado Ibrahim

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: Nigeria faces undeniable challenges, but amidst the hardship, it is crucial to acknowledge the efforts of the Renewed Hope government and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s well-intentioned policies. His long-held opposition to the fuel subsidy, viewed as a drain on resources, led to removal of the subsidy regime upon his inauguration on May 29, 2023. The aim was to reinvest the savings in critical sectors.

While federal allocations have demonstrably increased, the lack of improvement at the state and local governments level has drawn the ire towards the president, neglecting the significant role of governors who control nearly half of these allocations.

Nigeria’s three-tier federation allocates 52.68% to the federal government, 26.72% to states, and 20.60% to local governments. However, a crucial point often overlooked is that governors control the Joint Local Government Accounts (JLGA), effectively managing 47.32% of federal revenue every month. Despite this, poverty persists, highlighting the need for accountability beyond the federal level.

For instance, the NBS latest data showed that FAAC shared a total of N16.04 trillion to the three tiers of government in 2023, a 37.3 percent increase from N11.7 trillion in 2022. From this, the states and their local governments received a total FAAC allocation of N6.57 trillion, twice the N3.16 trillion received in 2022.

Lest we forgot, the aim of the famous 1976 local government reforms undertaken by Murtala Muhammed’s military government was to ensure uniformity and bring government closer to the people. The local government was made a full tier of government so that allocation can come directly from federal allocation to reflate the grassroots economy. It has been so since then, and local government system have gone through evolution, all in the bid to bring development closer to the people. However, since the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ceded the control of local governments to state governors, the once bubbling grassroots economy has become epileptic

Against the backdrop of the foregoing, while holding the federal government accountable is vital, Nigerians must also focus on their states and local governments. The opaque Section 162(6) of the 1999 Constitution, granting governors control over local government funds, hinders poverty alleviation efforts.

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Corruption diverts these funds away from the intended rural population, where 70% of Nigerians reside. Amending this section to grant local governments direct access to their allocations is crucial for stimulating the grassroots economy.

To put it succinctly, Development experts have agreed to a clear link between limited resources at the local government level and economic hardship. A significant portion of the population relies on the grassroots economy, and its struggles can contribute to wider issues.
Needless to remind Nigerians that because state governors have stiffled the flow of resources to local government, grassroots economy is rendered dry and impotent. The grassroots economy is not related monthly through the release of statutory allocations from the federation accounts because governors have through Local Government Joint Account (SJLGA) stilffled flow of money. This is responsible in part for the hardship in Nigeria, which has snowballed into insecurity.

Although the powerful Governors’ Forum will likely resist any attempts to amend the obnoxious section of our constitution, it is important to remember that their primary function should be peer review and knowledge sharing, not hindering beneficial policies.

Data from July to December 2023 reveals a post-subsidy increase in allocations to states and local governments, reaching N3.34 trillion. Despite this, Nigerians lament the lack of improvement in their lives, citing issues like poor infrastructure and insecurity.

This highlights a crucial disconnect: the quality of life is not commensurate with the available resources. The onus is on both federal and state governments to work towards tangible improvements.

While the intricacies of federal allocations and disbursements are constitutionally defined, their impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians is a separate matter. The current system, as noted by stakeholders, hinders effective resource distribution and impedes progress.

A lack of clear separation of powers at the state level further exacerbates the issue. Governors often bypass established systems, rendering local governments ineffective. This, coupled with the opaque control over local government funds, creates an environment where increased federal allocations fail to trickle down to the people who need them most.

Addressing these menace requires a multi-pronged approach. Amending the constitution to empower local governments, fostering true federalism, and ensuring transparency and accountability at all levels are crucial steps towards bridging the gap between resource allocation and improved lives for Nigerians.

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There are three segments of stakeholders I want to address briefly. They are the governors, statesmen and politicians. In every society, statesmen play a crucial role in a nation’s stability, and their pronouncements can significantly impact public sentiment and actions. In the case of Nigeria, it is understandable that you find some leaders’ statements inciting and unhelpful.

It is important to remember that diverse perspectives exist within any nation, and criticisms or disagreements with the government shouldn’t be automatically labeled as “inciting.” However, there’s a clear difference between constructive criticism and inflammatory rhetoric that undermines unity and potentially fuels unrest.

Effective leaders strive to foster constructive dialogue. They should be seen to focus on solutions, propose concrete alternatives and engage in discussions about improving the situation rather than solely criticizing.

Avoid inflammatory language: Words have power, and responsible leaders should use them carefully, avoiding language that incites anger or division.

Respect democratic processes: Even if they disagree with the government’s actions, leaders should uphold democratic norms and institutions.

Some politicians who are bent on bringing down the government must remember that their ambitions can only flourish in a peaceful environment. Exploiting hardship for political gain is detrimental to the very people they aim to serve. Fair debate and adherence to the law are essential.

For God’s sake, it’s concerning to hear allegations of individuals manipulating systems and resorting to harmful tactics for political gain. While I cannot verify the specifics of these claims, I can emphasise the importance of ethical and responsible behaviour in political spheres. Politicians, especially governors, hold a significant power to influence public discourse and societal stability. When they prioritise personal agendas over the well-being of the nation and its people, the consequences can be far-reaching and detrimental.

Exploiting hardship for political gain is unethical and harmful. It disregards the very people politicians claim to represent. True leadership strives to alleviate hardships, not exploit them. Fair debate and adherence to the law are fundamental pillars of a healthy democracy. When these principles are undermined, meaningful progress and solutions become elusive.

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Inflammatory rhetoric and manipulation tactics ultimately damage the fabric of society. They breed distrust, division, and hinder constructive dialogue necessary for addressing complex issues. Hence, it’s crucial for citizens to remain vigilant and hold their leaders accountable. Demanding transparency, ethical conduct, and a commitment to serving the greater good is essential for fostering a more just and prosperous society.

Remember, constructive criticism and open dialogue are valuable tools for progress. However, these must be exercised responsibly and within the bounds of the law. When individuals or groups resort to manipulation and harmful tactics, it’s essential to expose them and advocate for accountability through lawful means.

Ultimately, building a better future for Nigeria requires collective effort. By promoting ethical leadership, demanding transparency, and actively engaging in civic discourse, citizens can play a crucial role in shaping a brighter future for their nation.

Fostering stability requires a collective effort. Leaders, citizens, and institutions all have a responsibility to act with reason, respect, and a commitment to finding common ground for the nation’s betterment.

It’s the truth I’m after and the truth never harms anyone. What harms us is in self-deceit and ignorance. Nigerians should be patient with President Tinubu. Sometimes, we have to go through the worst to get the best. Our blessings are coming.

But above all, we must ask our state governors what they are doing with the huge allocations accruing to states from the federation account, following efforts made by the Tinubu administration. The only time we have felt the influence of governors and their excessive political propaganda as well as power monopoly is during the party conventions, and local government elections, or when they want to install caretaker committees in the local councils. But they cannot use that wisdom and influence to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians and boost the fight against corruption.

Instead of leaping into action with the federal allocation, they killed us with their words, they killed us with their doubts, they killed us with their laughter. However, President Tinubu, with his renewed hope, is killing them with his silent achievements and successes.

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