An NGO, People’s Life Improvement Foundation (PLIF), has advocated for a fourth tier of government to boost development in the rural areas.
Chief Somina Elekima, PLIF International President, who made the call at the first general meeting of the group, said the establishment of such community governments at ward levels would tackle the direct concerns of people in the rural areas.
“We need a fourth tier of government that will be close to the rural people. It is that government that will appreciate their problems and tackle their immediate worries,’’ he said on Tuesday in Abuja.
Noting that every Nigerian hails from a ward, he suggested that a small allocation could be given to the community government to tackle most pressing concerns at that level.
“The concerns of some communities may just be classrooms that had collapsed. Some communities may have been attacked by insurgents and some houses burnt. All they require may just be some roofing sheets.
“Some communities may just be looking for N10,000 to fix a broken borehole. These little concerns may not get any attention by the bigger tiers of government who may see them as too small, in spite of their importance to the people.
“To help the people, we need such very small localised governments that will be around them all the time. We need them to always be there for the people because the local government chairman may have too much in his hands,’’ Elekima explained.
Noting that the United States, from where Nigeria copied its presidential system, had federal, state, county and community governments, he urged Nigeria to have same to ensure better reach and give everyone a sense of belonging.
He described the ward as a local authority used for electoral, administrative and representative purposes usually with a councillor as its elected representative.
“It is the first point of collation in the electoral process, unfortunately, this unit is neither recognised nor funded as an administrative unit.
“We have 8,809 registration areas or wards in the country. Some are a single community while others cover up to five or more communities.
“PLIF recommends that the Federal Government directs disbursement of funds to the community government from any special intervention heading just like the way spending is created to solve health pandemics.’’
To ensure transparency, he suggested that allocated monies be placed under representatives of the community working along with federal, state, local government representatives and security agencies.
He cautioned against any interference by the other governments and traditional rulers, adding that the leadership should be elected but on a non-party basis.
“The tenure should be renewed every year so that it is easy to remove bad eggs,’’ Elekima said.
On possible representatives in the community government, PLIF suggested the youth, women, retirees, the traditional ruling council and the local government, adding that there should be no academic qualification for the election.
“There should be a project approval sub-committee elected by members. This is very important. There should also be a funds approval sub-committee which is equally critical,’’ he added.
On the legal framework for actualising the novel idea, Elekima said that state houses of assembly should simply create the community government as administrative areas and make appropriations for them.
“The community government does not require any constitutional amendment. It will be like the administrative centres established in Lagos, Bayelsa, etc.”