A former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Nduese Essien, has blamed the low level of development at the grassroots to the sharing of local government funds among some top politicians and their gladiators.
Mr. Essien said unless local government councils were granted autonomy, no meaningful development could take place at the grassroots.
He, therefore, called on the National Assembly to promulgate a law to grant autonomy to local government councils.
The former minister spoke at the Eket Township Stadium, during a civic reception in his honour in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
In the past, he said local government councils in the country carried out tangible development projects that benefitted the grassroots people.
But now, he said, some people who claim to be political leaders and elders insist on sharing the funds among themselves and their supporters.
“I wish to draw attention to the deplorable state of the third tier of government all over the country,” Mr. Essien said.
“In the past, local government councils were able to carry out tangible development projects that touched the lives of grassroots people. Today, many local government councils are not able to carry out development projects apart from payment of salaries to its over bloated workforce.”
He, therefore, called on the National Assembly and the states houses of assembly across the country to pass a law to grant full autonomy to the local government.
He said, “This will enable that tier of government to carry out its constitutional duties to the grassroots people.”
Apart from these, the former minister drew attention to the unhealthy rivalry between some elders and youth over political offices, saying that the situation was not good for the evolution of sustainable democratic culture in the country.
Instead of sending elders into forced retirement, he advised young people to be patient and learn from the experiences of those who have made viable contributions to the country’s development.
“Let me use this occasion to draw our attention to an unhealthy development in the polity, where young people now line up against their elders,” he said.
“I am worried that if this situation persists, our youth will lose the benefit of learning from the experiences of elders.”
While appealing to youth to show restraint in asking elders to vacate the political space, Mr. Essien said he was averse to elders who hold onto positions of leadership as if it were their birth rights.
He noted that a good leader grooms successors and leaves the scene when the ovation is loudest, adding, “That is why I have decided not to seek any elective position again in my lifetime.”
Mr. Essien used the opportunity to debunk claims that he is interested in contesting the governorship of the state in 2015, saying unless it was offered to him as an appointment, he would not contest any election in his lifetime.
He said, “I am not here to make a case on behalf of my party, its interests or its approach to office. I am here to stand up and speak out for what I believe in.
“I believe in Akwa Ibom State. I believe in Nigeria; head, heart and soul. I believe that Ibibio, Anang, Oron, Ekid, Ibeno and others are from the same stock. I believe we are stronger together than we ever would be apart.”
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