LG Autonomy Key To Curbing Rural-Urban Migration In Nigeria — Varsity Don

A University don, Professor Edward Adiele, has said granting autonomy to the local government areas was key to solving rural-urban drift in Nigeria.

He also stated that local government autonomy, if well harnessed, can lead to economic development in the country.

The Professor of Educational Planning at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, attributed most of the political crises in the various states across Nigeria to struggle for the control of local government structure.

Adiele spoke on Thursday while delivering a keynote address titled: “Local Government Autonomy: The Bedrock for Rural Communities Development,” at the grand finale of the first edition of Chief Tony Okocha Academic Excellence Challenge Quiz and Essay Writing Contest in Port Harcourt.

He described the topic as apt, noting that it was coming on the heels of heightened agitation and calls for full autonomy of local governments in Nigeria as the third tier of government.

The university don defined local government as a political entity and authority which is purposely created by law or constitution for local communities by which they manage their local public affairs within the confines of the law and constitution.

While dedcribing autonomy as the ability to make local decisions about what to do, rather than being influenced by external forces, the right to self-government and independence, he posited that the conceptual interpretation of local government autonomy is perceived as local self-government or grassroots democracy aimed at giving the people at the grassroots the fullest opportunity in determining their own destiny.

He said: “Each tier of government must exist not as an appendage of another, but as being able to exercise its own will in thr conduct of its own affairs, free from the directive of another level of government.

“Local government autonomy will only be meaningful in a situation where each level of government is not constitutionally bound to accept dictates or directives from the other level of government.”

He also described local governments as a veritable agents of development and grassroots participation in the democratic process.

“The local governments are therefore the closest to the people and therefore in a better position to appreciate the real problems of the people and serve as the most democratic agent for mobilising the people for positive socio-economic and grassroots development.

“Growth point must emerge from the local government areas in Nigeria and provide the much-needed push to agitate and energies productive activities in rural communities to reverse the phenomenon of rural-urban drift.

“It is because the flashpoint for growth is moved to the state or federal that is why rural dwellers migrate to the state and when rural dwellers migrate to the state, leaving their local environment, they constitute nuisance. Of course that is the cause of the social vices we are having at the state level.”

According to him, some of the ways local governments could be used to achieve rural community development to drive national economic development include; agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare, sensitisation and mobilisation, educational services in communities, training ground for political participation.

“Local governments in Nigeria must be granted full autonomy by making them have legal powers to achieve specific goals, most importantly, they must enjoy substantial autonomy in financial matters without excessive but complementary control by higher authority. This is so because fiscal autonomy in local government administration is generally believed to be the best tool efficient service delivery in rural communities development,” he added.

Meanwhile, Blessed Child Academy scored 270 points to emerge overall winners of the quiz competition, going home with cash reward of N200,000.00. Praise EL school emerged second position with 255 points, going home with N150,000.00 while Domino Pizza Memorial School came third with 253 points, going home with N100,000.00 prize.

Also, Praise Ogbowoma Okiri emerged winner of the Essay Writing Category, scoring 98%, going home with N200,000 and a laptop computer. The first runner-up, Nwosu Testimony Chukwurah scored 95% going home with N100,000 and a phone, while the second runner-up, Nwanfor Desmond Chukwuka, who scored 90% went home with N100,000.00 cash reward.

In his speech, Chief Tony Okocha thanked the participating schools and the organisers for making the event a success. He stressed confidence in the transparency of the panel of judges that brought about the winners.

He also promised to make the competition an annual event and thanked the facilitator, Comrade End well Otonnah, whom he said was the brain behind the competition.

Okocha, who is the acting chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, however, criticised the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) for fixing the timetable for local government elections in the state without inviting both the APC and the PDP to the meeting.

In an interview with LEADERSHIP, the winner of the essay writing competition and a student of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Praise Ogbawoma Okiri, said he didn’t expect to win as he was participating in an essay competition for the first time.

“This is actually a boost for me because I have never ever contested for something like this before. I want to tell my mother I made her proud, I want to tell my father I made him proud. At least this will spur me to greater exploits,” he stated.

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