Two former presidential candidates in Nigeria’s elections, Kingsley Moghalu, Remi Sonaiya and a university don, Ayo Olukotun have advocated for electoral and constitutional reforms to ensure good governance in Nigeria, especially at the grassroots.
Speaking at the Sikiru Kayode Adetona third annual professorial chair lecture held recently to celebrate the 85th birthday of the monarch at Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, the three scholars agreed that the present political structure at the grassroots (local government level) has failed and should therefore, be reviewed.
Without good leadership, there cannot be good governance; hence, constitutional restructuring of the country must be addressed, says Moghalu.
“We have seen something happening recently in Kano State where the emir of Kano’s throne is being balkanised and bastardised. We know why; it is to quash an independent voice, so this raises the question of the roles of traditional rulers. The government should no longer appoint traditional rulers. Let the traditional rulers be selected by their community and recognised by the government,” he said.
Moghalu opined that traditional rulers should have informed role in a restructured Nigeria, which will be advisory. “In a restructured Nigeria, with a new constitution, traditional rulers should have a formal role, that is, advisory roles. This is what we should do. We cannot make traditional rulers errand boys for politicians and when they refuse to play that role we begin to play around with them,” Moghalu said, stating that there is need to empower the people to demand for accountability from government.
Ayodele Olukotun, the current occupier of the Sikiru Kayode Adetona professorial chair in his lecture, entitled ‘Grassroots Governance: The Soft Underbelly of Nigeria’s Political Architecture,’ said the local governments appear to have produced exactly the opposite of their original objectives in Nigeria.
According to Olukotun, local governments have failed to bring governance closer to the people at the grassroots.
“…rather local governments have produced absentee local government chairmen who are only seen at council headquarters to receive the monthly statutory allocations. This is a common experience in most of the local government councils in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking further on governance at the grassroots, Olukotun said: “Unless the system of governance at the local level is in tune with the political and social economy of the particular locality, there will be problem which will impede the local government systems. In other words, local system of governance must adapt to their social, political, economic and cultural environments.”
Remi Sonaiya, on her part said many Nigerians are despairing about politics in Nigeria. According to her, Nigerians do not want to disturb the status quo and yet expect things to change; “this will not happen,” she said.
She opined that the military-imposed centralised structure makes no sense, hence, qualified people should be allowed to manage local resources and at the same time efforts must be made at the grassroots for awareness creation and conscientisation.
Mike Adenuga, the chairman of Globacom in his goodwill message said the theme of the lecture speaks to the objective of the professorial chair, which is to enthrone good governance in Nigeria.
According to Adenuga, who was represented by Folu Aderibigbe, a director at Globacom, the local government structure represents the closest tier of governance to the people at the grassroots. “If we get it right at this level, we will get it right at the top as this level represents the base for governance,” he said.
Speaking at the event, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun who was represented by his Deputy, Yetunde Onanuga stated that the annual lecture is a legacy that should be sustained over time. “This is arguably one of the most generous initiatives in the country so far, it should be cherished and key stakeholders need to join in to give their supports so we can ensure this stays forever in our country”.
This year, Alayeluwa is marking his 59th year on the auspicious throne and his 85th birthday.Responding, Oba Adetona thanked guests for honouring him, revealing that he is optimistic that Nigeria would benefit from the initiative and enjoined other well-meaning people to lend their support to a good cause.
Seyi John Salau