Dean Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, has inaugurated Local Government (LGAs) Accountability Awards to promote good governance, transparency and accountability at the local government levels.
At the virtual inaugurating of the awards on Thursday in Abuja, Mr Semiye Michael, project coordinator of the NGO, decried the level of corruption in local governments.
He noted that transparency must be demanded for development to take effect in the country.
“It is important to note that the fundamental principle of democracy can only be attained when citizens have the right to demand accountability and public officials are held accountable.
“As it stands today, the worst form of corruption takes place at the Local Government and this is made so, simply because they have remained unchecked.
“With 774 LGAs in Nigeria, this is probably one of the highest in Africa, with so much structural abilities to transform local development in an unusual speed.
“But we all have sat back helplessly to watch LGAs become political compensation for election and party loyalists at the ultimate expense of the citizens,” he said.
The project coordinator noted that the agitation for the local government autonomy as a constitutional tool to unbundle the unlimited influence of both federal and state governments could not be overemphasized.
“The six Area Councils in FCT serve as perfect examples, they are all autonomous and receive their allocations directly and also conduct all their elections as at when due.
“Whatever happens with governance at local level in FCT is what can happen if all the LGAs across the country enjoy autonomy,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Local Government Accountability Award is part of Dean’s strategic short term plan to promote transparency, accountability, citizen participation and responsiveness to citizens at the local government level.
The winner of the award will take up the responsibility of mobilising other LGAs to be Open Government Partnership (OPG) compliant.
The criteria for the award are: local government with functional website, functional social media platforms, Freedom of Information (FOI) Compliance Desk, and LGA with proof of FOI responses to the citizens.
Some others are LGA with current year’s budget on their website and other public domain, LGA with IGR public disclosure, proof of engagement and feedback provision on social media platforms.
Other criteria are: LGA with routine town hall meeting schedules to engage with citizens, LGA that engages citizens on budget formation and implementation plan and LGA whose administrators are accessible by phone or social media handles for citizen engagement.
The NGO said participation forms and information kits would be sent to each Area Council in the FCT with official letter of notification from July 5 and all filled forms must be returned on or before July 30.
The Project Coordinator added that citizens across the FCT would also have the chance to nominate any area council of their choice for the award.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
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