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Offline naijatowns

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What do you know about your local government
« on: June 20, 2015, 08:10:04 PM »
The functions of Local Government Councils in Nigeria are contained in the 4th Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria. To fulfil these functions they must deliver the following services to which you have a right as citizens resident in your particular Local Government Area

    1. Provide Information and Access to Local Government Services

    To do this every Local Government Council Office must have a reception area that is staffed with people that are knowledgeable about the work of the Council and can refer members of the public appropriately, depending on enquiries and requests made

    They must have detailed information about the services delivered by the particular Council and where the service can be obtained

    The premises of the Local Council Office must be well sign posted so that visitors to the council can find their way easily and the more progressive councils must ensure that there are no language barriers and that  the visually impaired and others who have disabilities have easy and appropriate access to information and services

    2. Registration of Births

    Many Councils have abdicated this responsibility to the National Population Commission, yet it is one of the very primary function that a Council can carry out. Those in Diaspora understand how important this service is and it should be accompanied with issuance of birth certificates. If we do not know how many we are or how fast we are growing we cannot plan or allocate resources effectively. Leaving this function in the hands of the National Population Commission means that we can be under represented at the Federal Level and for some of us there may even be no record of our existence.

    3. Marriage Registry

    Nigerians more than most people understand the importance of this function. And even when people choose to marry in a religious or traditional institution, the marriages must still be registered with the Local Council. The Local council must post banns as required by the law, issue marriage licenses and marriage certificates

    For civil marriages, the Council must take steps to provide decent premises  where the marriage ceremonies can take place, even if this is provided at a fee.

    4. Registration of Death

    The law requires the death to be registered either in the LGA where the death took place or alternatively in the local government of origin. For this reason, the Local Council must maintain a registry and provide information on what steps to follow.

    5. Cemetery Services

    Local Councils must maintain public cemeteries with facilities for conducting simple burial ceremonies. Progressive ones should also facilitate the services of undertakers to ease the burden of family members and friends

    6. Primary Health Care Services

    Every Local Government has a Primary Health Care Coordinator, usually a senior nurse (all the ones in Lagos State are medical doctors) who has responsibility for delivering primary health care and for coordinating health care facilities within the LGA. These primary health care facilities in most other countries have grown to be full fledged hospitals and often serve as secondary referral centres for community nursing. In Nigeria, the ones established by Olikoye Ransome Kuti became decrepit almost as soon as he retired.

    The law in Nigeria provides for members of the community to sit on the governing councils of these health facilities and we can call the PHC coordinator to account about the quality and range of health care services available in the LGA. It is a right that we have yet to avail of. How many of us know the name of our Local Council Chairman not mention the name of the PHC Coordinator. Just so we know, services provided through the Primary Health Care Centres are

         Diagnoses and treatment of minor ailments and injuries
        Referral to a secondary health care facility
        Drug dispensary and sale at government regulated prices
        a full range of antenatal, delivery [excluding the delivery of first pregnancies] and postnatal services, including circumcision of male babies and immunization
        Child welfare clinics including advisory services on exclusive breastfeeding and weighing of children under five years of age on any day of the week.
        Counselling on family planning including support to determine an appropriate family planning method compatible with personal health history and treatment of minor complications which arise from the use of prescribed guide
        Adolescent Reproductive Health Services
        Health education and health promotion seminars concerning prevailing health problems in the communities

    7. Local Government Education Authorities

    Local Government Councils are meant to supervise education at the grassroots (this puts primary education, vocational education and the provison of libraries solidly within their purview) and to work through Local Government Education Authorities and with Departments for Adult and Nonformal Education to do this. To ensure a level of control, Secretaries of LGEAs are appointed by Council Chairmen and ratified by council members who are also elected and whose functions are similar to those of State assemblies with responsibilities for making by laws.

    In practice, Local Government Education Authorities work under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and in collaboration with relevant Boards, Agencies and Departments of the Ministry of Education to ensure compliance of schools with educational standards and procedures set by Government. LGEAs in many states have become autonomous of the Local Government Councils. They should monitor and report on

    the state of school buildings and facilities

    levels of enrolment in schools

    staffing, including number and qualification of teachers

    education improvement programmes undertaken within the LGA by government, individuals, civil society and donor organisations

    private providers of education and continue education centres within each LGA to ensure compliance with government policy guidelines

    LGEAs should also support inspection of schools, administration of examinations and registration of teachers with the State Teacher Registration Council. They have so far failed abysmally and have been accountable to no one, not even State Universal Basic Education Boards which simply meet to award contracts funded with World Bank IDA Loans to each other with the connivance of the Universal Basic Education Commission (Federal).

    8. Establishment of Homes for Destitute and other Socially Needy

    Local Government Councils have the responsibility for establishing homes for the destitute and other socially needy people. Many Councils do this in partnership with relevant civil society organisations and with  Federal or State agencies.

    9. Public Conveniences

    Each Local Government Council must provide public toilets and bathhouses. There is room for private sector participation in this function as entrepreneurs can obtain licences to operate public conveniences. It is compulsory that the Local Government Council makes land available for this purpose.

    10. Slaughter Houses

    Local Government Councils must provide abattoirs and slaughter houses that are maintained in good sanitary conditions in cooperation with butcher's associations. The department for veterinary services of the state issues licenses to intending butchers through local councils and their officials inspect all animals intended for slaughter to make sure that they are fit for consumption.

    11. Markets

    Local Government Councils establish and operate markets in partnership with traders associations. They also issue street trading and hawkers licenses and must ensure that street traders and hawkers do not impede traffic flow or constitute nuisances

    12. Registration and Issuance of Licences

    Local Government Councils issue licenses for motor and other mechanised vehicles,    licenses for bicycles and trucks, radio and television licenses,    pet licenses,    licenses for sale of liquor,    small trader licenses and licenses to operate community based organisations and NGOs

    13. Refuse Collection and Maintaining Clean Streets

    Responsibility for refuse collection and street cleaning remains that of the Local government even though most states and established waste management agencies. The Local government Council also has responsibility for removing corpses and animal carcasses from our roads, for unclogging drains and patching potholes on roads.

    14. Road Construction and Naming of Streets

    The Council carries out maintenance of roads and must also construct or open up new roads to create access to new settlements. They also have responsibility for naming streets and for providing street maps for their local government area

    15. Assessment of Privately owned Buildings for Tenement Rates

    The Local Government Council must maintain a register of all the building in the Local Government Area for the purpose of determining and collection of tenement rates. The Council should also have responsibility for monitoring that building permits are not violated

    16. Regulation of Outdoor Advertising

    The Local Government Council has responsibility for regulating out door advertising and for providing guidelines to advertisers

    17. Revenue Collection

    Many of the functions and services of Local Government Councils result in the generation of revenue. Such revenue is used for funding social services delivered through the Council and for development projects for communal benefit. The Local Government Council through the Chairman is accountable for the use of this revenue and for the Federal allocation

       18. Publication of Fees

    Every Council is required to publish fees charged for services delivered. Where arrangements have been made to collect revenue through agents, the agents must also publish fees and abide by the regulations and directives of the Council

Most of the functions that are meant to be carried out by Local Government Councils have been taken over by States, most times inefficiently because of inadequate staffing and a disconnect from local communities. Yet the Councils retain staff on payroll ostensibly to enable delivery  of these very functions. A good number of Local Government Council Staff only come in to work on payday to pick up unearned salaries with a misplaced sense of proprietorship.  Unashamed rent seekers, they aid elected Council officials, who ignorantly refuse to be accountable to their communities, to defraud constituents. Painfully ignorant of the functions of their offices, Local Government Council staff are civil servants hired through the Local Government Service Commission (the inconsistency of this function being the responsibility of a State organ ensures that the authority of the LGC Chairman is undermined and lacking control over her/his staff, it hinders performance management) and posted from one Local Government Council to another in a rotation of ineptitude and redundancy.

Local Government Council Officials, elected and employed, get paid salaries and perquisites for doing absolutely nothing except think up new ways to bring misery into the life of Nigerians, while we fold our arms in resignation to our fate. Yet there are talented people, skilled and competent men and women in communities of Local Government Areas who are able to take their place as Chairmen and Councillors.  They are reluctant because politics is seen as dirty and violent undertaking.

Can your average goon that ends up as a Local Government Council Official Chairman or Councillor - relate to these services much less come up with strategies for implementation and improvement?

Politics is everybody's business, whether  we choose to serve as elected public officials or as community activists demanding our rights and representing the interests of the vulnerable. The first step however, is to know. Once we know what government at the local government is about we can begin to call elected officials to account as it is our right and responsibility to do and we may gradually begin to see how else we might contribute to improving our own living standards by demanding progressive improvement in the quality of services delivered by our local government councils.




What do you know about your local government
« on: June 20, 2015, 08:10:04 PM »

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