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 Direct allocations: Maintain fiscal prudence, rights group tells LG chairmen

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Direct allocations: Maintain fiscal prudence, rights group tells LG chairmen

A rights group, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Ebonyi chapter, has urged chairmen of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria to ensure prudent management of monthly federation allocations accruing to them.

The CDHR State Secretary, Mr Jeremiah Onyibe, gave the advice at a news conference on Monday in Abakaliki.

Onyibe said that the call became imperative in view of the implementation of direct payment of federation allocations to local governments as directed by the Federal Government.

He said that the operationalisation of the directive gave responsibility to the chairmen of the councils to preside over utilisation of funds made available to them under the new fiscal regime.

Onyibe said that fiscal prudence and discipline were required for effective management of local government funds in order to achieve the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He urged the various council chairmen to integrate their councillors, traditional rulers, community leaders and civil society organisations in identifying and implementing projects that would touch the lives of the rural people.

“The implementation of fiscal autonomy for  local government areas is one of the best  achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.

“Before now, the activities in our local government were in comatose as the federal allocations made for the local government were allegedly hijacked bystate governors in disguise of joint account to execute their joint projects.

“The development was the highest fraud ever and financial injustice meted out to grassroots administration,” he said.

According to him, this singular practice reduced our local government funds as alternative income to the governors.

”The funds meant to be used for  development of our local communities were therefore diverted and misappropriated.

“The practice also reduced the local government system as mere appendages of the state governments in Nigeria, as funds accruing to them were handed over to state governments and governors used them without acknowledging needs of the rural dwellers.

“But the recent decision to allocate funds directly to the local government has changed the sad narrative.

“There is therefore the need for civil societies, citizens and stakeholders to engage the council chairmen.

“They also need to monitor how funds released to these local governments are being utilised to ensure the funds are used for the interest of the masses”, Oyibe said.

He expressed concern on the poor state of infrastructure in public primary schools, lack of teaching materials, poor health facilities, leading to high rate of mortalities in rural communities.

He said: “As our local government chairmen receive their allocations directly, it is worthy for them to note that most of our public schools are in sorry state, lacking adequate qualified teachers, poor school infrastructure and basic instructional materials.

“Our public health centres have become ‘glorified’ medical shops, they are not operational as there are no drugs, nor qualified health officers to attend to our people and most of our health centres don’t even have basic equipment due to poor funding.

“Our rural roads are death-trap, posing difficulty for movement of people and farm produce since over 80 per cent of rural dwellers are peasant farmers, roads should be maintained to enhance accessibility”, he added.

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