15th July, 2011
Director, United Nations Institute for African Development and Planning (UNIDEP), Dakar, Senegal, Prof. Bayo Olukoshi and Founder, Order Society Trust, an advocacy group on law and order and good governance, Prof. Yemi Osibajo (SAN) and his principal officers have called for active citizenship and participatory democracy, reforms and awareness creation by the media to evolve effective governance at the grassroots.
According to Olukoshi and others who spoke at a media briefing on a symposium with the theme, â€œMaking Local Governance Work For the Poor,â€ in Lagos yesterday as part of activities marking the 77th Birthday of Prof. Wole Soyinka, Nigeriaâ€™s literary icon and Nobel Laureate, democracy can only be said to have worked when poor governance at the local council is tackled.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â At the pre-event briefing organised in collaboration with the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, the speakers asserted that governance at the local level had been in existence even before the advent of colonial masters.
However, they said the system had gone through changes, thereby losing the intended values and benefits for the masses at the grassroots.
To them, this must be corrected since experience has shown from other parts of the world that the local councils are the closest to the people.
Olukoshi and Osibajo, who were represented by Mr. Myani Bukar, Mrs. Folusho Idumu and Hadiza Abdulazeez, said that democracy could only be meaningful if there was citizenâ€™s participation at the local level.
According to them, democracy is a collective and multi-layer action and therefore, leaders at the local level must be forced to be accountable and also discharge their responsibilities to the electorate.
Specifically, the UN official called for professionalism of activities at the local council level through attracting the best talents for effective governance.
Olukoshi also urged the federal and state governments to tackle cronyism and corruption at the grassroots through political will and reforms, arguing that the level of interference in councilsâ€™ affairs has not given a conducive environment for them to work.Saying that democracy could not be expected to work overnight, he urged the mass media to promote the idea of participatory democracy at the local council level as well as assist the citizenry to force those responsible for governance at the grassroots to be alive to their responsibilities.
â€” Jamiu Yisa