CISLAC demands Unconditional Restoration of Ekiti Assembly Speaker

Given the ongoing illegal, politically motivated and unconstitutional impeachment flooding the State Houses of Assembly, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) condemns the unwarranted and undemocratic action of the seven lawmakers of Ekiti State House of Assembly for unlawful removal of the Speaker, Hon. Adewale Omirin.

CISLAC expresses deep concern by the unjustified attempt by Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose to hijack and control the constitutionally independent House of Assembly, primary for unpatriotic political ambition.

It is worrisome that some State legislators have become insensitive to constitutional provisions and intentional breaking the law for political gain. Unconstitutional removal of the House of Assembly exposes the level of immaturity and poor understanding constitutional provisions in part of some members of State House of Assembly where a group of seven members unseat Speaker of the House.

CISLAC is also worried that the unconstitutional impeachment process predominantly targeted at members of opposition party may pose a threat to the nation’s democracy and sow seeds of crisis in an already violence-charged Nigerian polity as recently. They abandon their constitutional mandates and succumb to all manner of external interference into their activities clearly positioned them as ‘use any means and break any rules in the quest for power and wealth’.

Persistent attempts by the State Executive to federal government to hijack State Houses of Assembly, primarily to fortify its political ambition lack the requirements of the minimum standard of civilization, ideals and expectations of an open quality democracy.

It is shameful that some members of Ekiti State House of Assembly have neglected their primary duties—representation, law making and oversight, and are preoccupied with externally motivated plan to unseat their Speaker.

CISLAC therefore, demands immediate and unconditional restoration of the wrongfully impeached Speaker of the House; advises all members of Ekiti State House of Assembly to be wary of external interference that could hijack their primary constitutional responsibilities and sabotage their recorded achievements; urges the State Houses of Assembly to without fear or bias, remain consistent and committed to their constitutional mandates; and calls on the State Houses of Assembly to avoid all manners of undemocratic power game resulting in disobedience to rules of law.

Signed
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director of CISLAC

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AFTER A ONE DAY MEDIA ROUND TABLE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PRIMARY HEALTH CARE IN NIGERIA ORGANIZED BY CISLAC, HELD IN TOP RANK GALAXY HOTEL, UTAKO, ABUJA, ON 19TH NOVEMBER, 2014.

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) organized a Media Round Table on the importance of Primary Health Care in Nigeria. It was attended by over 30 participants drawn from various media houses such as Silver Bird Radio and Television, TV Continental (TVC), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Daily Trust Newspapers and development partners such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and civil society groups such as Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Community and Health Research Initiative and Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON).

The media training featured two technical presentations from two resource persons namely, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba, Executive Director of Community Health and Research Initiative and Mr. Maxwell Kadiri, Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative. They were supported by several technical experts who served as panelists/discussants and x-rayed their presentations. Leading the pack were, Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), Executive Director, CISLAC, Mr. Dayo Olaide, Programme Manager, MacArthur Foundation, Dr. Lecky Muhammad, Executive Secretary, HERFON and Hajia Saudatu Mahdi, Executive Secretary, WRAPA. The sessions were chaired by Dr. Mairo Mandara, Country Representative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

After exhaustive deliberation on the importance of engaging the media on the Nigerian health sector through utilizing various existing accountability mechanisms embedded in extant policy commitments of the Nigerian Government to demand for greater responsiveness of the Government at all levels, to these existing commitments in the health sector, participants observed the following:

1. That the media being the only profession that is constitutionally empowered by the provision of Section 22, of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, to hold the Government accountable to the people, ought to do more, to ensure proper and effective accountability of three tiers of Government on issues of primary and tertiary healthcare in particular and general health reform initiatives;

2. Government on several occasions made commitments to invest in human capital development; reduce maternal death from 550 per 100,000 live births, to 250 per 100,000 live-births by 2015; raise per capita spending to at least 32%; utilize 2% of revenue accruing to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, to fund health sector developments and several other commitments already made by the Government, which are yet be implemented;
3. That the National Health Bill, recently passed a second time, by both Chambers of the National Assembly, is yet to receive Presidential assent despite it arriving at the Presidency on 28th October, 2014, thus leaving a window of barely 10 working days for it to receive Presidential Assent, given the fact that constitutionally guaranteed period for Presidential Assent is 30 days;
4. That the Bill is critically important as it represents the best attempt thus far, at providing a legislative framework that seeks to comprehensively address the many challenges afflicting Nigeria’s health sector, thus contributing towards the realization of the right to health and by extension the right to life of Nigerians guaranteed under Sections 17(3)©, 17(3)(d) and 33 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended;
5. That the enactment of the Bill would also assist in instituting appropriate mechanisms for enhancing accountability, professionalism, effective and efficient service delivery in both public and private healthcare institutions at all levels in the country;
6. Currently Nigeria contributes 14% of the global burden on maternal deaths and records 576 deaths per 100,000 live births, whilst infant mortality rate, estimated at 69 per 1000 live births (though in the decline), remains unacceptable and reduces Nigeria’s chances of meeting Millennium Development Goals 4;
7. That accountability is a catalyst for change in the health sector and various stakeholders need to be involved in the quest for accountability on relevant duty bearers to make good their promises to the people;
8. That significant financial and technical investments from development partners and government going to the health sector do not translate to much in the lives of the citizenry;
9. That generally, the media cannot and does not define civil society’s media strategies for fostering greater publicity of issues that are considered to be of interest to them, rather, they can only be guided by what the CSO’s put forward as part of their media strategy.
10. That media personnel are eager to report the more lucrative stories, which includes issues relating to politics, the economy and other sectors, rather than health related matters;

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Increased media action to sensitize the general public on primary health care issues;
2. The urgent need for the Nigerian Government to promptly implement all her existing commitments, such as the 15% budgetary allocation to health sector development;
3. Multipronged stakeholder approach involving traditional rulers, religious leaders, the media, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), development partners, civil society, political parties and the citizens, towards mounting positive pressure on the President to urgently give his assent to the National Health Bill before the expiration of ten working days timeline that is left of the constitutionally approved 30 days for such activity;
4. Identify media platforms and respected goodwill ambassadors to utilize in projecting the many positive issues contained in the National Health Bill, through appropriate public messaging, that would create greater public understanding of the Bill and its potential for positively impacting on Healthcare development in the country;
5. Maximum utilization of the social media to engage issues of both primary and tertiary healthcare in Nigeria;
6. Increased mutual accountability on all fronts as a panacea for robust, effective and efficient health sector reform initiatives in Nigeria;
7. Increased support and endorsement from development partners, bilateral and multilateral institutions, to pressurize the President to promptly assent to the National Health Bill;
8. Demand for greater accountability by Government at all levels for health sector related expenditure;
9. Civil Society Organizations were encouraged to develop and share robust strategies for engaging the Media on ensuring appropriate reporting and increased visibility for the many pressing issues affecting Nigeria’s health sector at all levels of Governance;
10. The media was encouraged to ensure increased coverage of all healthcare related issues in the country.

CONCLUSION:
The participants expressed their appreciation to CISLAC for embarking on a training of this nature especially at a time like this when the health sector has almost gone moribund and electioneering is the order of the day. The media demonstrated its willingness to partner with CISLAC on this initiative of promoting primary healthcare in Nigeria among the media and other Non-state Actors.

Participants expressed their deep gratitude to the organizers, noting that the engagement was quite revealing indeed and provided them with a unique opportunity of being able to kick-start the process of greater conversation amongst key players in Nigeria’s healthcare industry.

It was also unanimously agreed that the media professionals present, development partners and the civil society collaborate on developing a range of diverse strategies for engage the government to become more responsive on their existing policy commitments on health sector reform, in Nigeria.

Signed

Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director, CISLAC

Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba
Coordinator
AMHiN

Mr. Maxwell Kadiri
Legal Officer,
OSJI

Friday Olokor
Punch Newspaper

CISLAC condemns Persistent Disregard for National Legislative Chamber

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has noticed in recent times, persistent violation of human rights, forceful oppression and all forms of intimidation through illegal, unlawful and unpatriotic use of security forces by the present administration against members of the opposition parties.

It is against this background that CISLAC strongly condemns illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful barricade of National Assembly Complex, especially the House of Representatives Chamber with armed security forces, preventing the Speakers of the House from entrance to attend an important session to discuss matter of national important.

CISLAC finds it worrisome that the culture of impunity permeating political atmosphere has been launched against the National Lawmaking Chamber, where a chaotic scene took place on Thursday morning as the police blocked the House of Representatives primarily to prevent the Speaker Aminu Tambuwal and Representatives’ members belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC), from accessing the Chambers for the proposed special session to discuss President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for a further three-month extension of the emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

CISLAC sees it as national embarrassment that such important matter regarding the nation’s security demanding exhaustive brainstorming would be discussed in the absence of Speaker of House of Representatives. It is shameful that such matter of national important is handled with poor political ideology, sentiment, partisanship and selfishness.

It is surprising that instead to be judiciously deployed towards the provision of maximum and effective security of lives and property which remains a key challenge facing the country, Nigerian security force is deployed to nurture political sentiment and intimidating political opposition.

CISLAC therefore, demands total respect for National Legislative Chambers, submissive to rules of law and strict adherence to human rights; calls for equal level playing field for all political candidates contesting under any accredited political party in the country; demands immediate lift of unnecessary security blockades against persons at the National Assembly to restore peace and orders and uphold utmost respect for the rules of law; advises all persons involved in the ongoing mischievous to avoid unconstructive political decisions that can disrupt the nation’s peace and harmony, or disregard our legislative chambers and respect the law.

CISLAC encourages all well-meaning Nigerians and the media to never relent in their demands for justice; and strongly condemn all manners of impunity and violation of fundamental freedom of the citizens by any individual or institution.

Signed:
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director of CISLAC

Group wants National Health Bill signed into Law

By Abubakar Jimoh

Accountability for Maternal New-born and Child Health in Nigeria (AMHiN) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately sign into law, National Health Bill presently awaiting Presidential assent, before end of the year.

In a statement issued during a protest held on Friday in Abuja, the group said, “Today marks the 19th day that the passed national health bill is submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan. The clock is ticking and we are approaching the 30 days expiration period upon which failure to assent the bill will render it invalid. Nigeria has entered an election mood which creates an exciting moment for Mr. President to assent to the bill.

“Currently, an insufficient amount of funds is allocated to health sector which is below 10% of the country’s annual budget over the last 8 years. We are now less than 500 days for the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), serious calls and fast actions are required to address the shortfalls in investment in maternal, newborn and child health.”

The group recalled that “The Nigerian Government specifically committed to: Reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) from what it was previously to about 250/100,000 by September 2015; Commit to achieving the goal of a contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 36 % by 2018 to avert at least 31,000 maternal deaths; and Ensure the availability of Reproductive Health Commodities including lifesaving drugs for women and newborn in our secondary and primary health care facilities.”

“The 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) had scored Nigeria poorly in many health indicators. Our MMR is put at 576 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births which was not significantly different from the ratio reported in the 2008 NDHS of 545/100,000.

“With all these challenges and meagre financial resources allocated to health sector, it is the national health bill when sign in to law will lead to actions that will inject at least 1% of the consolidated oil revenue to health sector annually which will be used to improve primary health care and national insurance scheme to ensure universal coverage. Thus impact positively on the poor health indices, mentioned above,” it bemoaned.

COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF CAPACITY BUILDING SESSIONS FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS, MEDIA AND LEGISLATORS ON THE NEITI FISCAL ALLOCATION AND STATUTORY DISBURSEMENT AUDIT (FASD) REPORT FOR 2007-2011 ORGANIZED BY CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC) WITH SUPPORT OXFAM NOVIB AT BLISS WORLD RESORT AND HOTELS, AKURE, ONDO STATE ON THE 11TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 2014

Preamble

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) organized capacity building session for Civil Society Organizations, Media and Legislators in Akure, Ondo State with the support from Oxfam Novib. The capacity building targeted at improving effectiveness of the extractive industry resource utilization, transfer capacity to CSOs, Legislators and Media to sharpen knowledge and competence in the demand for accountability and impact of petroleum resources funds; provide baseline information and public awareness in the current trend of petroleum resources disbursement using the NEITI FASD report. The sessions looked at process based; value based and professional based accountability and provide tools to enthrone a regime of transparency. It provided a roadmap to strengthen existing gaps. The meeting which had top State Government functionaries, CSOs and Media in attendance was largely participatory, interactive and informative. Participants expressed satisfaction at the content of the presentations and evidence based report presented that has ultimately sharpened advocacy skills.

Observations

• The total revenue accrued to the Federation between 2007-2011stood at over 30.09 trillion Naira with an annual budget of =N=3trillion bringing cumulative national expenditure to less than 50% of gross national earning and yet the country is running a depleted federation accounts with an increase in poverty index.
• The sovereign Wealth Fund remains the only instrument for strategic planning in the country and the leeway to rescue Nigeria from the heavy wastages and leakages that currently thrives in its natural resources revenue.
• Absence of adequate knowledge amongst Civil Societies, Media and Legislators in Ondo State on the NEITI Audit reports has weakened advocacy on the know-how to develop clear recommendations and strategies for government to engage in institutional strengthening by looking beyond oil and hold private sector accountable.
• Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit (FASD) Report 2007 – 2011 asked informed and incisive questions that that can initiate debates, dialogue and public discourse on issues of transparency, accountability and good governance of Nigeria’s extractive industries resources with huge gaps on process and accountability issues.
• Inclusive governance and investment in capital projects in the South west has created a model for other regions due to adequate social resource allocations targeted at the people with consistency in performance and diversification of resources through its IGR.
• Weak Publish What You Pay Movement in Ondo State has disconnected citizens from Information Management system that can assist them from demanding accountability which was considered a panacea for an ineffective citizen partnership for good governance.
• Extractive remains on the exclusive list which makes it nearly impossible for states to look inward in term of reducing its over reliance on federal allocation and increase IGR as well as reduce borrowing.

Recommendations

• Government must reduce its expenditure profile; high costs of governance and put in place operational guideline for release of funds to prevent arbitrary releases and abuses of processes around the stabilization fund which was set up as palliative in times of economic difficulties to curb leakages and wastages.
• The Legislature must utilize the report to engage the executive at all level on the need to secure the future with the resources currently generated from extractive particularly, those states that benefits from the derivation funds as a means of saving for the future.
• Civil Society Organizations should strongly advocate for structural changes that will eliminate inequalities, poverty and even distribution of natural resources, generate and sustain debates on alternative strategies and models of national development based on the revenue base of the nation as disclosed in the audit reports.
• Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit (FASD) Report should be released timely to allow erring public officers account for the period of stewardship with a call to the anti-graft agencies to utilize the reports as an M&E tool for enforcement.
• State Government in Nigeria and particularly the focal pilot state covered by the report should re-evaluate their revenue profile with an articulated and strategic plan to exploit their full internal economic potentials as well as develop recurrent and capital expenditure policies as an instrument to secure desired impact on the lives of citizens.
• Publish What You Pay Movement in the state must be activated as a platform to engage constructively to demand accountability, promote good governance and form partnership for development with all stakeholders.
• Federal Government should empower the states by placing solid mineral extraction on the concurrent list to allow State government the opportunity to expand internally Generated Revenue for a more sustainable development.

Conclusion

Participants thanked CISLAC with the support from Oxfam Novib for providing the platform for such constructive engagement. The process was acclaimed to very incisive, participatory and engaging. The resolve to activate the Publish What You Pay Movement became even more convincing that the state has the willingness to utilize the information and get government to diversify in its revenue. It was noted that projects are often at its peak in the years preceding elections an example of Ondo recording 78% of capital expenditure in 2010 and nose-dived to 38% in 2011, this trend is disturbing and raises lots of suspicion.

Signed:

Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
Abuja

Bola Ojuda
Correspondent
Daily Trust Newspaper
Akure, Ondo State

V.F Olajorin
Director of Budget
Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget
Akure, Ondo State

DECLARATION OF ACTION AFTER A ONE DAY CONSENSUS BUILDING SUMMIT ON WOMEN POLITICAL PARTICIPATION ORGANISED BY CISLAC WITH SUPPORT FROM THE UK DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (DFID) FUNDED VOICES FOR CHANGE PROGRAMME HELD IN KADUNA ON 4TH NOVEMBER, 2014

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded Voices for Change programme held a One Day Consensus Building Summit for male political leaders on women political participation in Kaduna State. The Summit held in Asaa Pyramid Hotel on 4th November, 2014, was attended by over 60 participants from various political parties including PDP, I.D, APGA, MPPP, APC, SDP, LP, APA, NNPP, AD, PPA, ADC, PPP, UDP as well as INEC, developmental partner, civil society and the media. After exhaustive deliberations on the aim of the Summit which is to harness the support of male political stakeholders and leaders to become change agents that will stir the current of behavioral changes that will affect the lives of our women and girls, we, the participants:

Recognise that gender equality is an imperative for progress on social and economic emancipation and development in societies across world.

Also recognize that women constitute more than half of the population in Kaduna State, having their own right with potential, wisdom, talents and skill that they can contribute to develop the State.

Express our deep concern about glaring gender gaps in political structures and processes including low numbers of women in political party decision making structures; limited political skills among women in politics; unclear rules and procedures on recruitment and conduct of primaries.

Note that although women have great responsibilities in upbringing of a healthy, solid society, but records the lowest rates of political participation in the country; and women in several occasions discriminate against women.
Also note that the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria does not discriminate against women; and women’s roles in the society is socially and culturally determined.
Further note that every government is committed towards encouraging men and not women participation in politics as key political positions in the country are largely dominated by men; and women are excluded from power structure both in traditional and political key positions.
Commit to take into serious consideration, implementation of at least 35% Affirmative Action for Women at all levels to encourage appreciative participation of women as leaders and decision-makers in households, communities, and in the public and private spheres in the nation’s political decision making in 2015 and beyond.

Affirm that education remains the key tool for change and to ensure women self-development and participation in politics.

Endorse free education for women to ensure they are well-informed and encourage their full-fledged participation in political affairs; and unite in solidarity, regardless of our status, differences and political affiliations to lead the change we wish to see in Kaduna State.

Will ensure women, especially at the grassroots are properly educated to demand accountability and participate effectively in all political affairs in the country.

Shall effectively engage implementation of existing legislation to ensure equal opportunities for women in political affairs.

Will support re-distribution of power and removal of monetary requirement for participation in politics, primarily to encourage women participation in politics to ensure sustainable democracy.

Agreed to seek in-depth understanding on women needs and actualize findings therefrom.

We hereby nominate one participant from each party to commit to these actions on our behalves:
1. Name: Hassan Adamu
Political Party: Social Democratic Party
Position: State Chairman, Kaduna State
Signature:

2. Name: Francis D. Kozaid
Political Party: APC
Position: Legal Adviser
Signature:

3. Name: Bulus Ishaku
Political Party: PDP
Position: Stakeholder
Signature:

4. Name: Usman Ibn Abdullahi Lapai
Organisation: Blue Print Newspaper
Position: Assistant Secretary, Correspondence Chapter
Signature:

5. Name: Esther Bago
Organisation: INEC
Position: Head of Unit/Electoral Management
Signature:

6. Name: Kabir A. Fada
Political Party: Independence Democrat
Position: State Chairman
Signature:

7. Name: Kasim C. Balarabe
Political Party: PPA
Position: State Chairman
Signature:

8. Name: A. S Maikudi
Political Party: United Democratic Party
Position: State Chairman
Signature:

9. Name: Timothy Azubike
Political Party: APGA
Position: State Secretary
Signature:

10. Name: Alh. Ibrahim A Suleiman
Political Party: African Democratic Congress
Position: Chairman
Signature:

11. Name: Usman Bello
Political Party: Labour Party
Position: Youth Leader
Signature:
12. Name: Dr. Sani Abdulkadir
Political Party: New Nigeria Peoples Party
Position: State Chairman
Signature:

13. Name: Mr. Sam Kato
Political Party: Alliance for Democracy
Position: Chairman
Signature:
14. Name: Joseph Tongor
Political Party: Mega Progressive People Party
Position: Chairman
Signature:

Domestication of African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources will ensure better management of our resources – Banwo

The1968 African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources was revised in 2003 by the African Union and boost the commitment by African governments to protecting the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources and the collective approach to bio diversity conservation in Africa. The Revise Convention is comprehensive and modern regional treaty in the environment and natural resources conservation. The first to deal with a wide spectrum of sustainable development issues, including land and soil, water, and biological diversity conservation and sustainable use. The original convention entered into force 16th of June, 1969 and currently has 31 ratifications from African countries. The Revise Convention will enter into force once it has been ratified by 15 African states. Currently, 8 countries have ratified it.

On 25th September 2014, in this interview by O.J Matthew of Vision FM Abuja with the Senior Programme Officer of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Kolawole Banwo discusses extensively on the importance of revised African Convention on Nature and Natural Resources. Excerpts:

Now can you explain to us a little about the African Union Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Convention?

BANWO: Thank you very much. The African Union Convention on the Conservation is a multi-lateral agreement between countries in Africa to decide and resolve issues on how to harness to environment and manage nature and its resources in a sustainable manner to ensure that, it serves the interest of man and it is not destroyed in the process. The idea is that the environment is a cross cutting thing, and what happens in one region affects other regions. Therefore, it is essential that people come together and reach a common understanding on how to do it. The convention was entered into firstly in 1968 in Algiers to manage that. And then, subsequently, for some reasons, it was revisited and amended in 2003 to reflect certain new realities. So, it is all about managing the environment and harnessing nature for the best interest of man and ensure that it is sustainable and used for common good.

What do you think are the reasoning behind the revising of the document from 1968 document to the 2003 document?

BANWO: The reasons are threefold basically, the first is that, the Algiers Convention (that is the first convention that was reached) did not have in it a structure to facilitate implementation. So, people reached an agreement but there was nothing in built to facilitate the implementation of what was agreed. The second which link to it is that, there was no mechanism for enforcing sanctions for anybody who defaults. And when you have an agreement and there is no sanction, it is not worth more than the paper which it is written. And of course, the third is related to the fact that between 1968 Algiers and Maputo 2003, there have been technological development and other things that have been discovered, that impacts on the environment either positively or negatively, that were not envisaged in 1968 and it was necessary that countries come together and incorporate this, and take note of it in making new agreements. Technologies that can pollute the environment, research that people go into that are not accommodating and regulated, all of these necessitated that they needed to revisit Algiers and got to Maputo so that this changes can be amended. And of course, law generally is an ongoing thing and it is a dynamic thing.

Nigeria is not among the countries that have ratified this document, so what are the implications for the country?

KOLA: The implications for the country can again be considered from three points of view. First is that, for the wider African continent, you need 15 countries to ratify before it can come into force. If Nigeria does not, that is one country short, and then it will not come into force after all the effort that came into it. This is not good for a country like Nigeria. Secondly is that, it was Nigeria and Cameroon that initiated the process of moving from Algiers to Maputo (getting the revised version).
Morally, when you lead a process, you own up to it. The fact that we led and initiated the process, got the amendment done and the Convention made and then retrain from signing it does not portray us in good light as responsible members of the international community. Thirdly, unless you ratify it, domesticate it, and begin to implement, the decisions and resolutions are not binding on you. That means that, the management of our nature, for a country that is dependent on the extractive industry, again, is left to the whims and caprices of our leaders. They are not subjecting themselves to internal regulations and that means that it can be mismanaged. We are now left as Nigerians to try to make them accountable. But usually, when you have external accountability from other sources, states behave themselves more responsibly.

So what benefit do you think the ratification and full implementation of this convention have for Nigeria?

BANWO: Well, that’s a converse to the question I just answered. That portrays us in good light as a continent leader. I mean, the giant of Africa has signed on to it. The benefit of that is that, it can now trickle down, other smaller countries cab buy in. That speaks well for our country because the foreign image and the advantage of having such a positive foreign image is good. Secondly, if it is ratified, it is also domesticated and if implementation begins, we would have better management of our resources, we all know the situation of the Niger Delta and all of that. We have the United Nation Environmental project; we have court cases, Shell and all of that. It means that, because there is now a higher level of accountability because we have ratified the convention our leaders are more likely to behave more responsibly in managing our resources. Remember, all of this is related to issues of sustainable development which says that, you should make the most of the resources you have today without jeopardizing the rights and benefits of future generations too. So, these resources, some of them are not renewable and if we don’t manage them well now, we would jeopardize the future. If we subject ourselves to that level of accountability, we can now (the citizens) have basis apart from internal, mechanisms and laws, to hold their leaders accountable and make them behave. Overall, that ensures that our resources are well managed, our environment is sustainably managed and the safety and interests of the citizens are taken into consideration. When that is done, we can have sustainable development. Those are the benefits that Nigeria can enjoy if we do go in to ratify, domesticate and begin to implement. I emphasise that because they are key. If you ratify and you don’t domesticate, it cannot be implemented, if you domesticate and you don’t implement, there can be no impact. So, the value change must be complied with and that is why we are in this campaign.

What do you think the government should do urgently to see to the ratification, domestication and implementation, and which government MDAs should work towards seeing this done?

BANWO: The government as a matter of urgency in responding to its international obligation and behaving as a responsible member of the international community and a leader in Africa, take urgent steps to ratify this. And this is by following all the necessary processes that are required. This involves several MDAs working together, Ministry of Environment should take the lead because this is an environmental issue and it affects nature and the natural environment. But they should work with other MDAs who have a stake in it. Water is important; it is one of the things that are being protected. Ministry of Water resources should be interested. Agriculture, because we are talking about Forestry, Forest Reserves, we are talking about the soil and its use. We are talking about research and its pollutants and all that can destroy fisheries and all of that. So the Ministry of Agriculture should also be interested. And of course the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because that is our link to the outside world, should work with them. You also have the Ministry of Justice, which is supposed to be basically responsible to provide the leadership that ensures this agreement comes to table at the Federal Executive Council, it is approved and adopted and then a bill is sent to the National Assembly for it to be properly passes into a law and enacted which is what we call domestication for it to be implemented.
All of these working intern den with the relevant legislative committee in the House of Assembly; House Committee on Environment, House Committee on Water Resources, House Committee on Judiciary, Committee on Foreign Affairs, they should harness as a matter of urgency, in a well-coordinated manner and serious government institution to ensure that this is done. There is ratification, i will deposit the necessary instruments with the AU office, there is domestication, it is passed into domestic law and then, they begin to implement and ensure there is oversight in its implementation.

Are there any roles for citizens and Civil Society groups toward to ratification and implementation of this convention?

BANWO: Yes, Civil Societies as representatives off the citizens have a say, because the natural resources and nature is all about the citizens. The food they eat depends on it, the environment they live, the water they drink and everything. And so they can be involved in this, and we are already involved because this programme is a product of that involvement. We are doing a campaign to highlight and sensitize citizens to be part of the process of influencing and engaging government to ratify, domesticate and implement, educate them on what their rights and duties are and how they can be involved. We give them information that makes them have a stake, and then we advocate to the relevant agencies that should act to make this happen.

We also engage them, we do policy briefs, we do press statements as the need arises, all to ensure that people are mobilised, Civil Society is sensitized and the government stakeholders also know their roles and what they should do. Perhaps, we can get them to do. These are the things we can do. And the more people speak, the louder voices, the likely the chances that our leaders will hear and act up on it. That is something we can do and we are already doing.

‘Our National health budget should be 15% which is our commitments at the AU level’ – Anya

Effort to create a well-informed society about various African Union Protocols which Nigeria is signatory to, resulted in the introduction of a live radio programme titled, MY AFRICAN UNION, MY VOICE by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) under the aegis of State of the Union Nigeria-Campaign Platform (SOTU N-CAMP). On 11th September, 2014, in this interview by O.J Matthew of Vision FM Abuja with the Project Coordinator SOTU N-CAMP, Okeke Anya and Austin Erameh of CISLAC, the Platform reveals how Nigerian citizens could benefit maximally from the golden opportunities brought by SOTU to effectively demand accountability. Excerpts:

What is this programme about?

ANYA: My African Union, My Voice is actually a programme of the State of the Union Coalition (SOTU). SOTU is a coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Africa that advocate for the ratification, domestication and implementation of key African Union Treaties and legal instruments. Some of these treaties include the African Charter on Human and People Rights, African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and so on. We would come to that later.

Basically, My African Union, My Voices is trying to bring to the door steps of Nigerians, the decisions that have been taken at the level of the African Union that will benefit Nigerian citizens and how they can go about engaging the relevant authorities to ensure that these instruments are implemented in Nigeria for their benefits.

What do you have to say concerning this?

AUSTIN: Well, as far as Nigeria is concerned, so far, Nigeria has been doing fairly well as regards ratification, domestication with certain number of African Union instruments. Where we have not done fairly well is at implementation. So, State of The Union in collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) brings this programme as a way of informing the citizen on this African Union instruments as well as Nigeria’s implementation strategy that we have adopted, as well as the level of implementation with these African Union instruments. So, it is a way of sensitization, a way of allowing Nigeria’s citizens to know what their rights are as members of the African Union as well as the number of instruments we are working on.

What is the connection between CISLAC and SOTU?

ANYA: Like I mentioned earlier, the SOTU is a coalition of civil society groups in Africa and CISLA, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, is implementing the SOTU programmes in Nigeria. However, there are other Nigerian coalition partners that are part of what we call, State of The Union Coalition Campaign Platform. Austin will speak to some of those members, but CISLAC is the lead implementing partner of SOTU in Nigeria.

So Austin, what do you have to say in this regard?

The Tate of The Union Nigeria Campaign Platform has a number of organisations, about 23 of them. It’s actually a coalition of Nigerian Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), that are working across broad number of developmental issues, from good governance, to democracy, to anti-corruption and various other sector. So, we have about 23 organisations spread across the 6 geopolitical zones of Nigeria, and the secretariat is CISLAC, which is based in Abuja. You have organisations from the 6 geopolitical zones targeting various thematic areas in governance and key governance implementation strategies.

What actually gave rise to SOTU?

AUSTINE: SOTU was actually borne out of the passion that government institutions across the continent actually have for citizens. It is funded by Oxfam International. It is actually a means of holding government accountable to their commitments in terms of protocols, conventions and other instruments at the continental level which is the AU. So the whole idea is actually to bring Civil Society groups and citizens at large to actually begin to hold government accountable to this commitment. In terms of ratification, they can go ahead and ratify these instruments, it’s not just ratification but as well as domestication and implementation of these instruments. So, it is borne out of making governance accountable and also government instruments.

Some will be wondering about this laudable project that you people actually have. Is SOTU also working with other Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria apart from CISLAC?

OKEKE: Basically, that is what Austin tried to mention earlier, that the organisation has different Civil Society groups cut across the different geo-political zones. I will just mention some of the names, I know that other members will understand that we have limited time and we cannot call all the organisations that are part of this coalition. We have the Zero Corruption Coalition, the National Association of Nigeria Traders, the Alliance for Africa, Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development, Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement. These are just a couple of organisations which are also doing varying works in different areas.

Just to re-emphasize what Austin has said, part of what gave rise to SOTU was actually the absence of citizens knowledge on what happens at the AU level. Most Nigerians, maybe they just see our leaders go to Addis Ababa, attend meetings and come back. They don’t know there is disconnect between what happens there and what happens at home. So, what this programme is trying to do is to bridge that gap, to ensure that citizens understand and make demands on government on what they have signed into. For instance, if you listened to the jingle, our National budget on health based on our commitments at the AU level should be 15%, but the past 3 to 4 years, you would find out that it is between 6 and 5% and with the whole health programme we are having. We saw how Ebola happened in Nigeria, we saw how it is stretching towards us.

Austin, can you quickly tell us what AU instruments the SOTU coalition is looking at as we speak?

AUSTINE: The number of instruments that the State of the Union is looking at the moment include: the African Charter on Human and People Right in Africa; African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community; African Union Convention Preventing and Combating Corruption; African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; African Health Strategy; Protocol to the African Charter on People and Human Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; and African Charter on the Right and Welfare of the Child.

How has been Government’s response to CISLAC and SOTU as we speak?

ANYA: I will say that the reactions have been that of a mixed bag. In some cases, you find out that some government agencies are willing to open their doors to talk to you and also willing to partner to ensure that we live up to our continental assignment. In some other, it has been foot-dragging. There is a lack of clarity and understanding of what the Civil Society are doing, when you come around, it looks as if you are just attacking government, no. The whole idea is not to attack government but to say, this is what is supposed to be done, let us partner, what is the gap? Where can we help? Where can we come in? These are some of the things however, I think there has been some useful collaboration with government but we hope to see it properly taken to a new level.

Austin, what do you have to say?

AUSTINE- Well, just to buttress what Mr. Anya has said, one of the objectives of the programme is actually to bridge the gap between the government and the citizens because of the mistrust that has existed over time. So far, the reception has been of a mixed type and we have had collaboration across certain level of MDAs. We hope that, as we go forward, there will be further welcoming reception to other government agencies that have not been brought on this campaign. This is a continental campaign and we hope that what we are doing will receive great publicity and wider reach, acceptability on the part of government towards ensuring and seeing civil societies as partners and not antagonists.
How do you look forward to seeing the dissemination of information on this programme; My African Union, My Voices?

ANYA: What we want to see is that we meet up, government begin to react to meet up with its commitments. AU for instance, in 2012 agreed that all African countries should ratify every of the instruments that they have come up with, and I think one of the first things we want to see, is Nigeria taking the lead and ensuring that, they ratify those instruments. Since this was a collective decision that was taken at the AU level, it is important that we live up to our words.

Then, we would also want to see the National Assembly, because the law says that, any treaty signed outside the country must be taken to the National Assembly for domestication. We want to see the National Assembly domesticating the owe ones that need laws to be passed, to pass law around. Then, we also want to see going back to the Executive again, to implement fully the instruments. The instruments are 14 in number, Austin mentioned 10. We want to see the Executive implement and the Legislature carry pout oversight to make sure implementation is properly carried out.

Austin finally, how do you look forward to seeing information dissemination in the programme, My African Union, My Voices reaches out to a lot of people out there?

AUSTIN- Beyond this programme or prior to the commencement of the maiden edition, we have engaged other channels of information dissemination. We have been having sub-national engagements as well as engaging other media institutions across the country. Going forward, we brought this initiative having this maiden edition of this programme to the city center, the FCT, targeting those government institutions that are based here, which is the seat of power, so that they can begin to see that there are better collaboration between the citizens and the government. So, we hope that, going forward, the programme will be a platform for collaboration and a wider reach to citizens and government.

‘Federal Allocations for Maternal health have declined in the last three years’ – Report

By Chioma Blessing Kanu

As part of the efforts to achieve greater government and medical service provider accountability for maternal health in Nigeria, MacArthur Foundation’s Population and Reproductive Health area made grants in 2013 in multiple aspects of maternal health accountability to seven Nigerian civil society organizations working at Federal, State, and local government levels including Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).

Recently, the Foundation presented to relevant stakeholders, report from series of evaluative activities across 13 States over the next three years to assess the extent to which the portfolio of grants is achieving results through the established four accountability strategies—policy advocacy, budget analysis, maternal death reviews, and legal strategies.

Accessing the passion of civil society organisations for maternal and reproductive health across seven States, the report holds that CSO respondents cited passion for, and commitment to, maternal and reproductive health, and reducing maternal mortality as the enabling factor.

According to the report, competition and funding were most cited by respondents as hindering effective collaboration on maternal health, fueled by funding and suspicion. “The competition was attributed to several factors including too many CSOs with preference to work independently, lack of synergy between old and new CSOs. Some remarked that the lack of trust or unity was driven by disparate and fragmented values, and organizational specialization in maternal and reproductive health areas,” it lamented.

In Kaduna State, the study identifies the existence of networks and partnerships in response to the question on how CSOs are collaborating and coordinating around maternal health accountability. This includes improved collaboration between maternal and child health CSOs to form the Maternal Child Health Partnership. The Partnership involves in the Medium Term Sector Strategy processes to ensure that the government continues to fund maternal and child health, with special attention to budget allocation.

Similarly, the report described the partnership in Enugu State as a pressure group to ensure the government provides free maternal and child health services, and reduce maternal and infant mortality rates by focusing on three advocacy channels—interest in maternal and child health, health project bodies and medical associations, and representatives of the Ministry of Health. The partnership includes a free maternal and child health steering committee (policy support, broad oversight) and free maternal and child health implementation committee (operational issues) with high level and influential subjects in government to help steer the program and ensure political will is retained, and attracted to the program.

In Bauchi State, the study reveals the role of Bauchi State Network of Civil Societies as a common platform for CSOs working to get a Maternal and Child Health Bill passed. They mobilizes human and material resource to strengthen the health care system, advocacy, capacity building, and government commitment.

On the formation and functioning of Maternal Death Review (MDR) committees by government commitment to reducing maternal deaths, the report discloses that Lagos State government’s commitment to reduce the number of maternal deaths, and create budgetary allocations for MDRs has supported MDR committee formation and functioning including training and capacity building capacity to carry out successful MDRs, including proper use of the forms. However, MDR committee members in the State lamented lack of clarification in some MDR directives, leading to confusion; as the committee’s recommendations are not being implemented because government and facilities are unsure of how to implement them.

Across the nine States, while the study bemoans infrequent media coverage of maternal health, programs and reports that do occur are primarily driven by international organizations or projects. Although health stories may be as frequent as weekly, the report noted that maternal health is often overshadowed by other diseases such as HIV and polio. Maternal health stories are viewed as mostly limited to specific times of the year, such as during United Nations-specific maternal health days.

Media reports were seen to focus on lack of government commitment to fund maternal health, and the role that instability plays in limiting access to services. In Bauchi, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, and Lagos States, the study questions the general low quality of media coverage on maternal health, and the majority inaccurate and distorted reports by most media. Enablers of effective maternal health coverage were seen as a passion for reporting on maternal health, availability of accurate information, a supportive media house, the Freedom of Information Act, and collaboration with others.

The study states that Federal allocations for health and maternal health line items have declined over the last 3 years, and increased budget allocations to maternal health need prioritization. It notes the delay associating with release of funds allocated, which are sometimes less than the sum allocated; and specifically highlights the overall reduction in allocation for implementing the Integrated Maternal Newborn and Child strategy between 2012 and 2014. “In 2012, 100% of the funds allocated were spent, yet expenditures reduced by almost half in 2013. 2014 allocations are less than half the 2012 allocations. For instance, since 2012, allocations to the National Obstetric Fistula Center, Abakaliki have reduced, and 2012 and 2013 expenditures are approximately half of the allocations. 2012 and 2013 data show Nursing and Midwifery Council expenditures below allocations.

“In 2013, various line item expenditures focused on nursing and midwifery services, such as support for midwifery training schools. A review of 2014 allocations indicated reduced support to these services at the Federal level, and in Bayelsa, Eboyi, Enugu, and Yobe States. Some of these reductions might be appropriate. For example, in Enugu State expenditures were to construct training schools so the zero allocation in 2014 could be because construction was completed.

Similarly, the report divulges inadequate budgetary allocation to maternal health as evident in FCT, Enugu, Gombe, Kano, and Niger States. Reasons cited include lack of commitment by leaders to devote resources to maternal health, and a lack of revenue to accommodate need.

On maternal health litigation related cases, in Enugu, Kaduna, and Lagos States poor awareness of women’s right to seek redress in court for grievances, and fear of victimization resulting from pursuing legal redress for maternal health-related cases, fear of families being the subject of gossip, and the prevailing perception that women should not air grievances in public were observed. These are connected with lack of confidence in authorities to pursue the matter, and medical staff’s reluctance to appear in court because they do not want to give evidence against a colleague or be the cause of potential financial implications a successful case might have on the facility.

Indications from Bauchi, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos States pointed out the need to prioritize implementation of existing State and Federal maternal health policies, and better government coordination to move from paper to actual implementation, stressing the importance of signing various governments’ pronouncements or verbal policies into law.

The report emphasizes the need for CSOs collaboration to minimize duplication and increase joint advocacy for maternal health that will, in turn, strengthen demands for government accountability and quality maternal health services. It opines that for MDRs to be effective, perceptions of accountability need to change, and should move away from blame-placing towards an emphasis on making a difference and contributing to results, including anonymity in conducting MDRs at the local level, where it may be hard to maintain.

It recommends that journalists, lawyers, and government officials as key boundary partners in the portfolio theory of change, must be able to draw on accurate and timely information for meaningful reporting, litigation, and policy development, improvement, and implementation. “Meaningful information on maternal health involves accurate data, awareness that the data exists, access to the data, and requisite skills to use the data,” it urged.

The report further sees the need for monitoring of government expenditures—budget tracking and analysis involves monitoring against actual Federal, State, and local government expenditures for evidence based advocacy to improve budget performance for maternal health policy and program implementation.

National Assembly and the Local Government Autonomy

By Abubakar Jimoh

Two years back, a certain significant development pointing to the possibilities of strengthening the local government administration with financial and political autonomy dominated the realm of the nation’s political issues.

This rekindled recently when National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) staged a protest at the national assembly complex to register their grievance and encourage the national assembly to pass the local government autonomy bill into law.

It would be recalled that in 2012, one major contentious issue in the amendment of the 1999 constitution is autonomy to local governments. While the National Assembly saw a greater need to grant financial autonomy to the councils in order to make them more effective in bringing dividends of democracy closer to the people, the state governors argued that the proposed amendment of the 1999 Constitution should contain only the federal and state as tiers of government, while local governments should be regarded as an extension of the ministries in the states.

As part of the efforts to address the contentious issue, three bills seeking local government autonomy, sponsored by two members of the House of Representatives and a senator were submitted to the National Assembly. A bill titled: “an Act to amend Section 7,162, of the 1999 Constitution and provision of political and financial independence for local government administration in the country” was sponsored by Hon. Ekwunife Uche Lilian. Another bill entitled: “a bill for an Act to Alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to ensure effective and efficient operations of the local government councils in Nigeria for social, economic and political development and for other matters connected” was sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Shamsidin Ango Abdulahi, and it seeks to amend Section 7, 313 and Sections 162 among others in the 1999 Constitution (amended) and gives political and economic independence to the 774 local councils across the country. The third bill was sponsored by Senator Nurudeen Abatemi Usman with primary aims at correcting the ambiguity in certain sections of the Constitution, and clearly establishing that local government chairmen are the chief executive officers of their councils; and proposing a four-year tenure for local government chairmen.

Although local government system represents the third tier of administration, as stated in the 1999 constitution, it has been reported not to be getting a fair deal in the hands of successive administrations in Nigeria. While governments especially at the state levels have firmly expressed that situation at the council level has not been the same in most of the states. Local governments are largely operated as appendages of the state governments resulting in various setbacks to the development of the grassroots. In fact, it was reported that some of them are governed by the caretaker committees appointed by the state governors.

Regrettably, rural development of the grassroots which should always be the concern of every responsible and responsive political system has not been primary focus, as development and participation have continued to escape people of the grassroots. This informed the view of a Nigerian political analyst, K.O Olaniyan in a paper titled “Local Government Administration and the Challenges of Development in Nigeria within the Provisions of the 1999 Constitution” where he wrote: “Development remains insignificant if it does not positively affect the lives of those in the periphery of decision making arrangement. The Nigerian state therefore created local government as the third tier of government whose objective is to ensure effective, measurable and efficient service delivery to the people. However, Local government is faced with various difficulties.”

Similarly, in 2012, participants at various public sessions on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, across the country voted heavily to support an amendment of section 162 (6) of the 1999 Constitution to abolish the state joint local government account so that allocations due to Local Government Councils would be paid to them directly. They also voted against the state assuming responsibility of finding of the councils, maintaining that they be accorded the status of a third tier of government. They pleaded with the National Assembly to remove the control of local government funds from state governors.

Against this backdrop, a public analyst, Salisu Suleiman in a piece titled “Local Government, Local Problem” in 2009 lamented: “The local governments Chairmen are usually surrounded by useless protocols making them to be brash, arrogant, suave, solicitous and shockingly crude. One trait of character that is ever present though, is their well-horned capacity to detect the minutest opportunity for fraud and diversion of public funds. Their word is law. He knows everything, except the concept of public and local government administration.

“At a lower level, local government treasurers and cashiers also live like royalty. As custodians of money, they help themselves liberally from the public purse by exploiting the inherent weaknesses of the archaic accounting systems still in use in most local government areas. Truth be told, they are probably more powerful than the local government chairman because they are permanent staff of the council, while chairmen come and go. They are the institutional memories of councils and know where every kobo is.

However, no matter the positions they occupy – from the chairman, councilors, treasurers, directors, cashiers and other positions, local government administration in Nigeria today has become a source of godless, mind-boggling theft of public resources.”

Unlike other scholars, he blamed local government Chairmen for corruption and financial management which have so far contributed largely to under-development of grassroot; and question their competency in handling the allocations from the federation account. “It has become vogue for chairmen to own houses in London, Dubai and South Africa. There was the case of a chairman who was duped of N40 million he stole to buy a house in London. And he dare not report to the police. Another chairman died of a heart attack when he learnt that the factory he supposedly acquired belonged to a Lebanese national and was never in the market. A lady chairman got her investments in property worth hundreds of millions in Abuja bull-dozed because it was built on a green area,” he added.

Also, Jon Gambrell of Associated Press while giving accounts of inefficiency of local government administrative in an article titled “In Nigeria, Corruption Roots in Local Governments” in 2011 posited: “Nigeria inherited local governments from British colonialists and kept the system in place after gaining independence in 1960. Little changed under Nigeria’s military dictatorships and when democracy took hold in 1999. The governments, run by council members and overseen by a chairman, remain responsible for road maintenance, sewage systems and markets, as well as assisting in health care and education in their areas. Yet even on Ikoyi Island in Lagos, which once housed the nation’s federal government, potholed roads with little asphalt run past some of the most expensive real estate in all of Africa. Public schools remain dilapidated and overcrowded. Passers-by relieve themselves in open drains.”

On the same vain, another piece titled “Problems of Local Government Budgeting in Nigeria” posted by StudentsDiary.net added that “Corruption is one of the major problems facing the local government. In fact, a mere mention of the local government exudes corruption. The popular myth propagated by the council officials is that the councils are always short of funds. No doubt, the heavy funding that runs into billions of Naira as seen from the tables may not be enough because of the high level of corruption in the councils. It has also been observed that most local government councils do not accord adequate regard to the budget process. The fall out of this situation is the indiscriminate and unplanned execution of projects. The state governments which would have served as a check are not free from this cankerworm. Evidently, there is contract scams in all local government councils in Nigeria. These contracts are inflated and worse still, the projects are not executed and thereby defeating the essence of budgets.”

Another study conducted by Samihah Khalil and Salihu A. Adelabu at Northern University of Malaysia, covering 33 local governments in Nigeria in terms of disbursement of statutory allocation, and budget and budgeting analysis gathered that as far back as 1999, the Nigerian local governments are being given enough by the Federal Government in order to provide infrastructural development to the citizens in the local area, but public revenue are being mismanaged by political leaders and local governments’ officials in Nigeria. They confirmed that less than 5% of the statutory allocation accrued to the local governments under consideration is being expended on infrastructural development, while over 10% is used for personnel expenditure as the cost of delivering infrastructural development by local governments in Nigeria.

Apart from the above, high level of illiteracy has also been attributed to the underperformance of the local government administrator across the country. Effort to tackle this triggered the development of a Training and Capacity Building Manual entitled “Local Government Administration and Development in Nigeria” developed by Olisa Agbakoba and Hilary Ogbonna for local government administrators to: enable them appreciate their roles as developmental agents; harness various resources at their disposal to bring about meaningful grassroots development; and help various interest groups and grassroots constituencies reach an understanding of issues in local government administration.

Meanwhile, some other political analysts both within and outside the country have attributed under-development at grassroot levels to other factors apart from those highlighted by the aforementioned analysts. For instance, in his analysis, Kolawole Sola of Department of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, Lagos State University reported that the struggle to bring about a local government system in Nigeria has been a long drawn one. “Efforts have geared towards moving the system from local administration to local government with functional political and economic autonomy. Yet, local government administration is confronted with issues and challenges such as: federal and state government’s interventions in the constitutional apportioned responsibilities of local government,” he said.

He however, argues that for local government administration to realize its lofty goals, the country should return to true federalism, enthrone positive leadership, pursuit of economic self-reliance through internally generated revenue, and embrace attitudinal and behavioural changes to achieve good governance.
In another research conducted by Abubakar Usman, a lecture at Department of Local Government and Development Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria using three states from the North-west, South-East and South-Western parts of Nigeria indicates a very weak relationship between local government (decentralisation) as operational in Nigeria and service delivery. Reasons for this development were linked to limited autonomy and high level government interferences.

Whereas, another study by Jimoh A. Oladipo at Department of Business Administration, University of Ilorin, has coined the fact that the events of the second war and its aftermath have succeeded not only in making the concept of development a necessity objective but also in identifying the appropriate investment for implementing development projects. To him, the advocacy for decentralization measures as an all-check against concentrating power in any one particular organization finds relevance in the instrumentality of local governments in planning and implementing projects to address the issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

In delivering mandates set out by the constitution, local government faces significant risks and challenges which in the analysis of Benjamin Ogbebulu in a piece titled “Repositioning Local Government As The Bedrock Of Service Delivery In Nigeria”, need to be addressed if the aspirations of the rural people are to be met through the local government as most rural people are yet to benefit much from the dividends of present democratisation in the country. He mentioned as part of the factor underlining effectiveness of local government administration to include clarifying the respective roles of the state and local government; streamlining the performance Management framework with a clearer local focus; allowing local government in the country to improve its own governance; and improving the transparency and accountability of the funding system for the local, state and Federal Government.