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Strengthening Legislative Practices In Lagos Local Government Councils

Lagos is known and
respected for scoring many firsts in
policies, laws and ideas for the
betterment of its citizens. In many
instances, it has shown over time
that having the right leadership at
the helm of affairs is just what a
society needs to become the envy of
its neighbours.
Yes, in the last two and half years,
the state has witnessed
unprecedented progress. You want
to know why? The arms of
government constantly decided to
look away from human sentiments
and work strictly with the law. We
are lucky that as usual, we have a
governor who believes in the rule of
law and is always careful to ensure
it takes preeminence in his bid to
make the state the real Centre of
Excellence. The various laws
implemented as well as the
resolutions worked on by Governor
Akinwunmi Ambode attest to this
position. Who benefits from such
visionary leadership and smooth
process of governance? Of course
the residents of the state.
This then brings upon us the
importance of the local government
system in Nigeria and particularly,
Lagos. It further brings to mind the
need to strengthen that part of
government since, as it is supposed
to be, it is the nearest to the people
of a state.
There is usually this voter apathy
each time the local government
elections are held. The simple
reason and, maybe justifiably so, is
that the local government, overtime,
became the farthest of the three
tiers thus beating its supposed
importance. The state is now even
closer to the people than local
government. There are complaints
by the public that they even hardly
know their chairmen, councillors,
supervisors and secretaries to the
local governments and other
appointees of that tier of
government. The claim is that they
are only seen during electioneering.
It is not supposed so. An appointee
at that level should be a grassroots
person, one who is a middleman
between the communities he
represents and the state. He should
also have a grasp of the activities of
the state government.
With these thoughts and arguments,
for example, the Lagos state House
of Assembly has been at the
forefront of ensuring officials at the
local government level understand
why they are there. It should not
always be business as usual creating
the impression, which has now gone
very wide, that opportunities at that
level is only ‘job for the boys’.
It is known that oversight on local
government by the lawmakers in
Lagos has been the best across the
country and this is not taking out
the fact that the executive arm of
government has been of major
assistance and cooperation.
As part of the need to further
strengthen the grassroots
government and ensure that
appointees at that level are in
tandem with the operations at the
state level, the House came up with
the decision to constantly have
nominees screened just like in the
case of the appointment of
commissioners and other such
officers at the state level. This
decision is a part of the Local
Government Administrative
Guidelines of the state.
The implication of not screening
and confirming such appointments
is therefore that anyone who
occupies a position of that
magnitude would legally only be
seen as holding it in acting capacity.
Ibrahim Magu, who heads the
Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC), is a good case
of argument here. He has remained
in acting capacity since his
It is always known that screening of
appointees gets them prepared for
the task ahead of them. It also keeps
them conscious of party manifestos
and what they should do. Of course,
it is never a witch-hunt exercise,
but a pragmatic attempt to
complement the efforts of the
Governor. For example, a
prospective appointee is supposed
to know the status of the
Neighbourhood Watch initiative in
his domain, what they think about
the government’s battle in trying to
sanitise the state, especially their
own areas, what they think can be
done to further encourage or boost
the government of the state. So
screening and confirming them
confers on them a level of
It is also pertinent that with the
successes recorded with the town
hall meetings so far organised by
the state House of Assembly, it is
also necessary that this should he
replicated by the various councils
before the chairmen would present
budgets and have them approved.
This would make the councils
understand the needs of the people
There is further need for the
training of officers at that level to
understand that the budget is not
just one of those usual documents,
but one which is legally binding on
everyone and which must
streamline spendings by the
chairman. In this case, while the
new executive arm of the local
government should be trained by
the state, the councillors, who form
the legislative arm, should be
trained by the House of Assembly so
they would understand democratic
and legislative cultures.
Will this action accelerate the
progress of the state? The answer
does not need further argument. It
is a big YES.
Egberongbe is the special adviser on
political and legislative matters to
Speaker Mudashiru Obasa of the
Lagos state House of Assembly.
Source: WTN.

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