By Salis Muhammad Moriki
Th e Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) was established with the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999. Th e association provides a platform for interaction and exchange of ideas and experiences for local government chairmen across the country. It is a forum where challenges facing local government councils in Nigeria are analyzed with a view to overcoming them and consolidating on the achievements recorded. Since its inception, the association has recorded various achievements in its areas of operations which include the purchase of jeeps and other security gadgets for security agencies across the country.
Th ese vehicles were distributed to each of the 774 local government councils in Nigeria. Another achievement was the refund of over deduction made from the allocations of local government councils during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration for the construction of one model primary health care centre in each local government area in the country. Others include trainings and workshops organized by the association for local governments and council members as well as senior personnel of the local government councils.
Th e association also collaborated with the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, to fight the unpopular zero allocation syndrome experienced during the administration of Obansanjo as well as the Etsu Nupe Reform Committee that was constituted with the aim of abolishing local government councils in Nigeria. In fact, this association, as a stakeholder in the management of Nigeria’s policies, has done a lot for the development of this country Even with these modest achievements recorded, the association was marred with some problems, more especially, leadership crises and alleged mismanagement of funds by the previous leaderships. Th e weak leadership of the past administration of the association led to the factionalization of ALGON, thereby, inhibiting it from realising the goals of establishing it. Th e non-conduction of election by most state governments at the local government councils and the imposition of caretaker committees and sole administrators on the councils also compounded the challenges facing the local government system. Recently, the association conducted an election as result of the deduction of the 44 local government councils in Kano, which automatically terminated the reign of the then president of the association, Hon. Ibrahim Ahmed Karaye, by section 17.2 of the ALGON’s constitution.
Th e constitution states that a member representing Local Government Council, who ceases to be a member of a local government council automatically ceases to be a member of the association or any organ thereof. Th e election, which was conducted on the 29th June, 2017, produced leaders that are adjudged to be people of high integrity, and possess vast experience in the stewardship of local government administration in the country. Th e new leadership is headed by Hon. Gambo Tanko Kagara, the Executive Chairman of Rafi Local Government, Niger State. Th e new deputy president is Hon. Ameachi Sunday from Abia State while Hon. Aliyu Abubakar Tsafe, the Executive Chairman of Tsafe Local Government Council, Zamfara State is the new Vice President.
Hon. Dapo Olagunju is the association’s publicity secretary and he is the Chairman of Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government of Ekiti State. Th e association hopes to leverage on the qualities of this new leadership to create a good and harmonious relationship with the state governments, through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum which will translate to grassroots development. It is a fact that the local government councils in Nigeria have been made appendages of state governments by the constitution which puts the responsibility of determining the structure and fi nances of the councils of state assemblies.
A good relationship between the ALGON and the Governors’ Forum will go a long way in stabilising and unifying the administration of local government councils in the country, especially on the issue of Joint Account and the status of Local Government Service Boards or Commissions. It will also facilitate the collaborative eff ort of the association and NULGE for the attainment of full autonomy for local government councils and the inclusion of Local Government Audit in the constitution as well as the unifi cation of Local Government Scheme of Service. ALGON, no doubt, has an important role to play in the sustenance and administration of local government system in Nigeria. It is believed that the present leadership will provide the much needed push for the realization of the association’s laudable goals. Th is is based on the qualities of the present personalities that assume the association’s mantle of leadership. Moriki writes from Kaduna