by crossriverwatch admin.
Any opportunity for an interview with the activist turned Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in Cross River State, Mr. Mike Igini Esq. is always a delight. He is always ready with a deluge of facts to passionately buttress his points and he never leaves you with any dull moment. crossriverwatch asked him today about the fate of democracy in the third tier of government in the country and he told us that Nigeria is still practicing partial democracy at the local government level. read the Excerpts:
CRW: Sir, could you please explain why you said that Nigeria is under partial democracy?
Igini: My statement that Nigeria is under partial democracy is because we have three tiers of governance, the Federal, the State and the Local government tiers. But evidently the local government tier has been turned into vassals of the states, held in thrall by party and executive structures that have confiscated the local government tier and strangulated development at the point where it is nearest to Nigerians. Before I go into the evidence of my assertion let me set the stage so that Nigerians can fully grasp why there are intense advocacies for the autonomy of local governments and why the African Union declared 10 August 2012 to celebrate the first local government day after its Summit of January 2012.
Since the early 1960 and for quite sometime earlier in some countries, many nations which have experimented with hierarchical and centralized governance have come to realize that, to bring governance closer to the people, one important tool, amongst others which can enable greater development is to decentralize governance and expand the scope of participation of citizens in a democracy, to make government more responsive and reflective of local needs, devolution of central authority and decision making to local government is a vital fulcrum in the actualization of this developmental goal, but decentralization has succeeded least in Africa compared to other continents because of the failings and pesky resistance of African power elites to give effect to the conditions that will usher greater development through effective decentralization.
Those who have studied decentralization in Africa closely have given some principal reasons why, decentralization and consequently development fails to bear fruit in Africa. Amongst the myriad of reasons, a very important one is the structural capture of local government resources and decisional processes by more central governments, the current situation which we find in Nigeria loquaciously exemplifies this dilemma, to flesh the bones of my claims, the key findings of INEC at the last meeting of INEC and the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria where as follows;
• The autonomy of State Independent Electoral Commissions especially their financial autonomy where at best farcical and in the worst cases, they were in the thralldom of state executives
• 9 states in the federation have no duly constituted State Independent Electoral Commissions, SIECs,
• Of the 36 states and the FCT, only 13 have elected local governments, namely, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Sokoto, Cross River, Ebonyi, Kwara, Taraba, Jigawa, Ogun , Niger and Zamfara. Other states are therefore in breach of Section 7 of the constitution; an impeachable offence; with the implication that a whole 511 LGAs where Nigerians are domiciled do not experience democracy at the moment because it’s only 263 LGAs out of 774 that have elected council office holders.
• There is an urgent need to review state electoral laws and electoral management at local government levels to reflect the aspiration of voters at the grass roots.These urgent and crucial governance deficits justifies my averment that we are running a partial democracy, in so far as the most important level of governance closest to the people remains in unconstitutional thralldom.
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