A MAJOR challenge that change faces is the attitude of Nigerians who believe the only government in Nigeria is the federal government. We have at least 812 governments in Nigeria – the Federal Government, 36 States, the Federal Capital Territory, and 774 local government councils. In Nigeria, we have governments, not just the one in Abuja.
If we add the agencies, ministries, and parastatals that these governments control, the numbers increase, since some of the agencies are their own governments, barely allowing their operations to undergo scrutiny of the legislature.
When we speak of change, the enormity of the task is most times under-stated. The Federal Government alone has more than 800 parastatals, some of which are illegal, there are no laws establishing them, yet they get annual budgets. Since many of the parastatals are unknown, Nigerians do not know what they do, and how they do them.
Away from the Federal Government, where the attention is concentrated, each State has replications of the ministries and agencies of the Federal Government. Many of them have the same defects as their counterparts at the centre. Some of them are even worse, but like Abuja, we chose where to pay attention, and things that we ignore forever.
Then there are the local government councils. They are the first tier of government, the nearest to the people, and the foundation of the other two tiers. They are non-existent in many States with the attendant challenges they have created for the welfare of Nigerians.
Section 7 (1) of the Constitution emphasises the importance of the local government councils, “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law, which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils”.
The abuses in local government councils constitute some of the highest incidents of lawlessness in Nigeria. The National Assembly has shown no interest in the violation that non-adherence to Section 7 entails. Since 1999, local governments have existed at the whim of governors who manage the funds allocated to local government councils. Change should run from the local government, through the States to the Federal Government. Do Nigerians think of all arms of governments when they speak of change? Change cannot be complete with if we exclude the States and local government councils. Change cannot affect other tiers of governments if we keep excluding them from attention appropriate to their duties to Nigerians.
Unless we think of an inclusive change – and focus less on Abuja – we would have rejected change.