The dust generated by last week's recommendation that 774 local government area be removed from the nation’s constitution by the Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government in the on-going National Conference might take more time to settle as a local government chairman yesterday warned that the move, if allowed to scale through, may trigger serious crisis.
The caretaker Chairman of Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State, Alhaji Saheed Alaran, told THISDAY that the committee co-chaired by Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd.) and Mohammed Kumalia, should re-appraise the matter critically in order not to cause undue crisis that may arise at the grass roots level.
Responding to THISDAY's question on desirability or otherwise of the recommendation by the conference committee, Alaran said the move was uncalled for, arguing that the local government being the closest arm of government to the people, remains the hub of accelerated and sustainable socio-economic development in the country.
He stated that: "They want to trigger a very serious crisis. The local governments, as far as I am concerned (I may be challenged), are the closest government to the people. Tell me when last a minister or the president came to Iseyin Local Government Area? How often a governor would be coming to each local government area to see the people and what is happening there?
On a daily basis, the people go to their chairman for one problem or the other, and if you now scrap it, are you not planning to take government miles away from the people? Will that not cause crisis?
Alaran stated further that "It is uncalled for because there are other problems they need to be addressed instead of calling for local government to be scrapped, and leave the states and federal governments to be doing what? As I am talking to you, there are very many problems that are not ours but that are of the state and federal governments. And when you want to say this one is not part of your responsibility, that is when you want the system to remain in comatose because where will you run?
"Scrapping it is not necessary because it is the closest to the people and most accessible to them too in terms of meeting their yearnings and aspirations. For instance, if they (people) want to get the attention of the state or federal government, they have to start from the local level to express their position. If the mandate of the local government cannot address such request, you will help them do it so that the appropriate authorities could come to their aid. So they can't scrap local government because that will be too dangerous thing to do," he added.
Last week, the committee, in its recommendation for the scrapping of the 774 councils, however, suggested that they should be transferred to the states legislature as part of the move to introduce a two-tier system of government in the country.
To the members, the list of local councils as contained in the First Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution should be removed and transferred to the states to be covered by a law of the state Houses of Assembly.
The committee premised its recommendation on the need to strengthen the grassroots administration in the country.
The committee had, after its deliberation on the issue previous week, recommended the removal of local governments as the third-tier of government and gave express authority to the states executive to determine the number of councils in their states.
It however insisted that Nigeria would remain a federation with the existing 36 states as the units.