By Alphonsus Isidiho
The political setting of Nigeria continues to raise dust as to the best way to drive politics, governance and development to the grassroots. Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, (RMAFC) and the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) are mandated to determine sharing formula for Federal Revenue. However, despite the good work done by these committees by carving out direct allocation to each of the local governments in Nigeria, the local governments still look dirty, dejected, unattended and undeveloped. This raises the question of where are the federal government allocations to the local governments. Who receives these monthly allocations and what are they used for? There is need to collectively address these questions as Nigerians are warming up for 2023 election.
Going through the local government areas especially in the south-East one wonders if these are the local governments that receive millions of naira monthly from the federation account. Most of them are surrounded by over-grown bushes with dilapidated structures. The rural roads have gone so bad that they are impassable, the few motorable roads are graded by either individuals in the communities or jointly graded through communal efforts. In the last 12 years, N15.5 trillion was duly transferred to states on behalf of the 774 local governments and yet there are no signs of rural developments. Going through Obowo local government area and other local governments in Imo State one cannot help but cry for the crunch of selfish politicians and governance prevailing.
Before now, the local governments used to have equipment used to grade all roads in the communities at least once yearly despite the little funds allocated from the federation account. But in the past 10 years no single community road has been graded by the local government councils, not even a culvert had been constructed nor any other project and yet millions are allocated to the local governments monthly from the federation account excluding the internally generated revenue. Where does the local government federal allocations go excluding the 10% that should be given to the local governments from the state governments? The question that should be on every person’s lips is how transparent, accountable and prudent have the state governments been with all these funds? Is the issue of local government autonomy in the country practicable and if not, why?
In the year 2019 for instance, Imo State Local Government Councils received allocation of N4,013,076,832.16 for the month of January; for February it was N3,740,629,972.63; March N3,726,135,385.54; from the Federal Revenue Allocation. For the month of April, 2019 total allocation was N3,762,422,986.87; May N4,150,327,814.45; June N4,449,419,184.94; July N4,224,891,757.33; and so it went on monthly. Distribution of Revenue Allocation to Imo State Local Governments by FAAC for the month of January, 2020 was N3,894,200,504.31; February, 2020 N3,491,674,708.23; November, N3,446,904,817.84; just to state a few. But the sad aspect of this is that there is no accountability, no signs of any meaningful projects in the L.G. As.
We continue to blame the Federal Government for poor performance when even the funds allocated to local governments may have been shared among the politicians in the state leaving the local communities un-catered for. What a wasted group of selfish, greedy looters in the name of politicians?
The average villagers continue to curse the Presidency for the poor state of the economy, social amenities and the rural non-motorable roads not knowing that it is the same people that visit their communities to canvas for votes that are the causes of their ordeals. What a hypocritical chameleons in politics? There must be collaboration on the part of the state government in these gang ups and this may be explained why each state governor does not ensure local government elections but rather appoints individuals who can be threatened, manipulated, coerced and subdued to embezzle the local government allocations.
The creation of new development centers in Imo State for instance absolutely is for cheap political gains by the current state administration as 2023 is by the corner. This creation would not add anything to community development as the funds for their takeoff and creation of impacts would not be released to the centers but would still find their way into the pockets of politicians.
Dr. Isidiho is a community development specialist.