ENUGU, Nigeria – Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has declared that for an effective and robust management of the local government system, the leaders must be transparent and totally accountable to the people.
The Governor spoke during a one-day sensitization programme on “Accountability and Transparency in the local System”, organized by a Non governmental organization, (NGO) Global Society For Anti- Corruption, (GSAC), for Council Chairmen, their Deputies and Head of Personnel Management (HPM) in the State.
He said the government at all levels must remain open and transparent as they were holding power in thrust for the benefit of the people.
Governor Ugwuanyi was represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Special Duties, Mr. Uwakwe, Azikiwe.
Similarly, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in a presentation at the event, said development at the grassroots would remain a mirage until Council Chairmen began to appropriate the finances in their disposal prudently on human oriented programmes.
ICPC Commissioner in Enugu State, Barrister Amedu Sule, regretted that lack of prudent management of resources had remained a cog in the wheel of progress at that tier of government since inception.
Delivering a paper, entitled: “The role of the Civil Servants, and the Impacts of Corruption on Development”, the ICPC commissioner stressed the need for handlers of the system to endeavour to change the narrative for the interest of the poor rural dwellers who relies on the system which he noted, ordinarily, ought to be the closet tier of government to the Communities.
He stated that corruption had eaten so deep the local government system in Nigeria, and has continued to hinder development in the localities, calling on all stakeholders to rise up and say no to the ugly trend.
Also speaking, an Economist, Dr. Chinwike Uba, who spoke on “Transparency, Accountability and Quality Services Delivering in Local Government System” faulted the idea of contracting council personnel functions to private firms and individuals by local government Chairmen, urging state governors, and Council Chiefs to stop the trend.
He also criticised the handling of local governments annual budgets in secrecy by Council Chairmen, saying such documents ought to be in the public domain for accessibility by taxpayers.
According to him, “it is wrong for some governments to move local government functions into quasi-private sector structures, these contractors or new quasi-private sector structures blur the lines of policy direction and accountability.
“It also leads to off-budget agency funding and contributes to budget fragmentation and lack of transparency.”
He added that to improve transparency and accountability in fiscal management at all levels of government especially at the local government area, “it is necessary to ensure full budget control and coverage.
“States have been accused of diverting some of the local government resources (monies) into off-budget accounts. These accounts typically lack oversight and transparency. These off-budget transactions take different forms, from extra budgetary funds to the lack of integration of investment planning.’’
He noted that Enugu State is predominantly rural (over 80 per cent), which makes it imperative to have a sustainable development anchored on good governance and democracy dividends to the vast majority of the people at the localities.
Uba, who is also attached to the African Heritage Institution, an economic and political research-based institute, called for participatory budgeting and project implementation taking into account the people’s input.
Rt. Hon. Chinedu Nwamba, a member of the Enugu State House of Assembly, representing Nsukka East Constituency, and Chairman House Committee on Anti-Corruption, also in his presentation charged the chairman to throw the process open to the people in order to gain confidence.
Welcoming the guests earlier to the event, the programme Director of GSAC, Mrs. Amaka Nweke, explained that the exercise was designed to strengthen relationship, development and good governance in the local government system in the State.
She said GSAC’s vision was to see a corrupt free society based on integrity, transparency, accountability and to provide the platform to eradicate all forms of corruption and continuously strengthen integrity to help promote the good image of Nigeria to the world.
According to her, “since 2006, we debuted, as a non governmental organization, with core interest in extending the frontiers of anti-corruption as well educating the public on electronic frauds and other related vices. We have left no one in doubt about our commitment to ensuring that we delivered in accordance with our mandate
“We have continued to educate the citizens on the implication of corruption and other related crimes such as drugs and human trafficking, promote peace and amicable resolution of conflicts, as well as facilitate reintegration of discharged inmates of the Correctional and Rehabilitation services into the society, including legal services, among others.