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Dictatorship: For Immediate Elections Into Local Councils Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jide Keye, Nigeria Sep 21, 2003
Human Rights  


Instead of ensuring that long-overdue election into local government, councils are organized across the country. The Obasanjo government, supported by his party, the PDP, recently set up a Presidential Technical Committee to review the local government system in Nigeria. This measure has also been supported by most state governors and none of the other big capitalist parties like the ANPP, AD, APGA, NDP, etc, have shown any serious opposition to it.

Inaugurating the committee, Obasanjo adduced "Three Disturbing Trends, among others, which had been identified with the recent inception of democratic dispensation in the country". These are:
1."The non-performance or gross under-performance of the local governments,
2. The high costs of electioneering campaigns to individual political contestants in Nigeria,
3. And fragmentation and continued fragmentation of local government councils including impractical division of towns and cities into unworkable mini-local government".

There is no doubt that since 1976 when local governments became statutorily recognized, the third tier of government with a share of the national revenues, powers and functions, had witnessed mutilation leading to proliferation of local government councils created for political considerations and rarely for developmental purpose. Corruption, inefficiency and in some cases, communal strife were the outcome of these local government councils created as they were managed by corruption politicians and military appointees who could not compete successfully at the state or federal level and whose last consideration was the genuine development of the local communities. Rather, local governments have become drain pipes through which a layer of the corrupt capitalists’ elite line their pockets with public funds while little or no development programs are implemented.

But these problems highlighted by the president are symptomatic of the pervasive political, economic and social degeneration of all the tiers of government and their agencies. Corruption and mismanagement is not limited to the local councils alone. Mindful of the fact that these 774 local government councils were managed by representatives of the three political parties, PDP, ANPP and AD, they mirror the corruption, ineptitude and anti-people programs of these pro-capitalist parties and politicians. Yet, no chairman or councilor had been successfully put on trial and convicted for this corruption in the past four years of Obasanjo's "anti-corruption" government. This is understandable as it would have amounted to the kettle calling pot black. So the proposed so-called local government reform is the height of hypocrisy by the Obasanjo regime and the ruling class.

Local Elections Now!

By postponing elections at the local government pending the so-called restructuring, Obasanjo, the PDP and all the big capitalist parties have acted unconstitutionally and violated the democratic rights of Nigerians. Section 7 of the 1999 constitution says "the system of local government by democratically elected local government councils in under this constitution guaranteed…” But since April last year, the councils have been run by unelected appointees of governors and their political parties.

What is needed is total transformation of the Nigerian polity and economy. As a step towards this we call for the convocation of a democratically-elected Sovereign National Conference (SNC) comprising elected representatives of social groups such as youths, workers, peasant farmers, traders, rank-and-file of the armed forces and police, professionals and ethnic nationalities according to their numerical strength to deliberate and decide on the way forward for the country and draw up a new constitution. Even at that, only a planned economy under the democratic control and management of the youths can guarantee socio-economic welfare of the people of this country. Anything short of this is mere palliative.

In addition, the labor movement, the NCP, labor and youth activists and pro-democracy and human rights groups should step up the campaign for immediate elections into the local government councils across the country and for a stop to this creeping civilian dictatorship.



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Jide Keye

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