The eternal beauty and alluring attraction of democracy is that periodically the electorate are given the opportunity to choose their leaders. Curiously at the local council level of governance, this role to choose chairmen and councillors are usurped by some state governors with the state legislators highly impotent to call the erring governors to order.
The 1999 constitution, the fundamental law that guides the operation of our representative government, clearly states that local council chairmen and councillors should be periodically elected as enacted by the State House of Assembly. Unfortunately in most states of the federation, the legislators have failed in this direction. Therefore the presence of unelected caretaker committee or the head of personnel management running the affairs of the council is strange to the letters and spirit of the constitution.
These disturbing trends must have agitated the minds of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Arising from a two day conference on best practices in election management in Kaduna, INEC warned eleven states over the non-conduct of council elections, adding that the ugly scenario contradicts the 1999 constitution. The affected states are Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Imo, Kano, Katsina, Ondo, Osun and Oyo.
For too long Nigerians have been treated with disdain by those who are supposed to be our servants. What is going on at the local council level is just intolerable. The state government should hand off the affairs of the councils and the way to begin is to regularly conduct council polls. If the tenure of the councillors and council chairmen are two years, it should be well spelt out. The danger in usurping the functions of the local council is that progress and growth are denied the people of grassroots administration. Today local councils cannot take care of markets, primary health centres, motor parks and the clearing of refuse. The pillaging of the councils must stop and that we as Nigerians owe it as civic duty to insist those councils’ elections are regularly conducted. This is not the best testimony of our democracy and that state legislators should be ashamed of themselves by failing in their duties.