CREATION OF LOCAL COUNCIL DEVELOPNMENT AREAS (LCDAs) AS THE ONLY PANACEA TO GRASSROOT DEVELOPMENT IN TARABA STATE.
By: Ira Tukura
Democracy is government of the people, for the people and by the people, it is on these principles that the act of governance and government reaches the people at the grassroots. The rural dwellers have suffered enough negligence from being meaningfully impacted with dividends of democracy ever since the return of democracy in 1999 to date for various reasons among which are inadequate supply of funds, poor administrative policies and programmes with no human face on the populace. Inconsistency and lack of focus in delivering promises has been the usual trend as witnessed in our today’s democracy, these are major factors constraining and hindering the strive of development at the grassroots hence, with well structured and patterned Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), government will be closer to the rural dwellers which will meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people and in turns create a sense of belonging.
The creation of Local Council Development Areas was affirmed in a Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of Lagos State, where its legitimacy was tested and awaiting constitutional amendment. The Taraba state government should borrow a leaf from the test running and well grounded LCDAs currently governed with dividends of democracy in states like Lagos, Osun, Ekiti and host of others where citizenry test their popularity and electoral fortunes in offering themselves for electable position as against imposition and appointment of coordinators as it’s in the case of our development areas.
A painstaking journey to the rural dwellers in difficult terrain will convince any reader who genuinely know what “democracy” stands for in this present dispensation, that without mincing words, there is an urgent need for government of the rescue captain to act fast in salvaging this decay at the grassroots to affirm his clarion call of “give me peace, I will give you development”, in no doubt, Tarabans and Taraba have been relatively peaceful as seen in the rescue slogan. To ease hostility, civil commotion, dissertation, war or strife we must emulate in good light the gospel of quietness, calmness and tranquillity for the collective good of those who are far from being participatory in governance and government as we therefore do the needful to elevate and eradicate poverty from the grassroots else the cities become hostile to dwell. According to US Department of Justice “Peace is the process of responding to diversity and conflict with tolerance, imagination and flexibility to ensure that people fully enjoy human rights.” This goes to show that peace can only be enjoyed and guaranteed when the dwellers in the rural area enjoy the dividend of democracy as the only value for their votes by active participation in politics. The only road map to this driving quest remains in creating LCDAs in terrains that sincerely and seriously deserve it. It is embarrassing to know that some electorates in the rural areas are yet to come to term with the reality of rescue programmes and policies, reason being that electorates have lost contact and confidence in the government at the centre because of the huge gap that exist between them in terms of administration which necessitates the call to build this gap by creating a closer administration.
The already gazetted Special Development Areas of Yangtu and Mgada should be looked into by the Taraba State House of Assembly inline with relevance constitutional backing, to review their status to Local Council Development Areas where the inhabitants will have complete right to their franchise as enshrined in Nigeria constitution in electing their representatives at various levels of government, such as council Chairmen and Councillors, they should also be considered in all government appointments with voice in the State House of Assembly for proper legislative business of the state.
The people of these aforementioned areas have been disfranchised for too long into participating in the election of their representatives at the grassroots hence, the need for the rescue captain to create a democratic platform within the conformity of the constitution to strengthen their participation instead of the government to appoints or impose upon them anybody as against the wish of the electorates to coordinate their activities. It is on this forbearing that government should as a matter of urgency review the status of these Special Development Areas and create more to cater for the needs of the teeming populace to exercise their rights of franchise in the grassroots which will bring government policies and programmes closer to the people for proper implementation and resulting into impactful and meaningful development.
Government is enjoyable and better when the populace fully participate in voting the executors of the policies and programme formulators, it makes the execution easier and rewarding thereby painting the government in good light but where electorates becomes voiceless surely there would be suspicious and anarchy.
The Local Council Development Area should have the statutory to operate as a full flesh Local Government to encourage democratic principles at grassroots. Generally speaking, the concepts of creating LCDA out of the present local governments in the state are as follows:
(a) Make the Government closer to the people.
(b) Encouraging democratic principle at grassroots.
(c) Boosting the internally generated revenue of government.
(d) Provide more basic infrastructural facilities and social amenities for the people e.g. Good roads, water, electricity, education, quality health, etc.
(e) Make citizen to be more responsive and responsible to their statutory functions e.g. Payment of taxes & levies.
(f) Encourage human capital development at grassroots e.g. Training, youth empowerment etc.
(f) Strengthening the security network of the council area.
It will further:
( a) Encourage community participatory approach in project implementation via the needs concept.
(b) Citizen should play an advisory role to government
(c) Ensuring viability of the council areas through intensification of efforts on our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
(d) Blocking all revenue leakages inimical to the success of the government.
(e) Ensuring dispensation of all government statutory functions
(f) Ensuring citizens obedience to the rule of laws vis-a-vis compliance with government directives.
(g) Proper dissemination and advocacy of government policies and programmes.
The government should Specifically set objectives that will lead to the creation of the Council Areas among which are: –
(a) Collaboration with the parent local government to move the LCDAs forward.
(b) Create good synergy between the government and the people.
(c) Strengthening the LCDAs to be financially independent without necessarily looking up to state or federal allocation.
(d) Bring developments closer to the people.
(e) Sensitizing citizenry on their civic responsibilities e.g. Payment of taxes, and other important levies.
All well meaning Tarabans and spirited individuals from far and near irrespective of political affiliations, tribal differences and religion background should as a matter of compassion in the spirit of oneness join hands with relevant government authority(ies) either by sponsors of individual bill or lobby a representative to legislate bill to this effect.
The governor should as a matter of urgency match his slogan of “give me peace, I will give you development” to action by sending an administrative bill to this effect to the Taraba State House of Assembly to initiate a process of legislation that will create Local Council Development Area in the state, to ease the administrative ambiguity in terms of policies and programmes. It is worth knowing that the creation of these LCDAs will curb the menace of farmers vs Fulani herdsmen crises, political thuggery cum armed robbery and reduce wastefulness of manpower into resourcefulness, it will as well rise healthy competition for revenue drive to consolidate development.
The Taraba State Independent Electoral Commission, should be mandated by the government to put a call for referendum, from spirited individuals to this need in order to ascertain people’s opinion and view on this regard.
His Excellency, have times without number demonstrated steadfastness and commitment to one indivisible Taraba under his watch and the need for financial prudence in order to manage state hard earned resources but more better, is the benefit of the creation if a law is promulgated in this direction as posterity will remember him for good.
Finally we must eschew the temptation of being political but apolitical in our quest to where the need is most and the sitting of the headquarters for easy administration convenience and if this is done, it will indeed serve as a litmus test on how prepare and ready Taraba State is, should devolution of power succeeds in the ongoing constitution amendment as being yearned!
God bless Rescue Captain!
God bless Taraba!
God bless Nigeria!