Local government as government at the grassroot level is supposed to touch everyday life of the people because it is nearer to us than federal or state government. There is no doubt that our local government have performed in varying degrees in some aspect. However, when expectations are compared with realities in Ajaokuta LGA, it is obvious that the balance sheet is a poor one. This is because while people's expectations from the local government are very high, the result have been unfortunately very low.
I, therefore used this opportunity to advice both the current and potential administrators of our dear local government to devise low-cost but nonetheless effective methods of improving the revenue bases of our local government. Internally generated sources of revenue should not be discarded. They should explore the whole gamut of untapped sources of internal revenue in our domain.
For the fact that we have shops along Adogo - Secretariat road, thus I suggest the local government should train and recruit professional shoemakers and tailors and make them productive by providing them with the necessary raw materials to ensure effective utilization of the skills and capabilities of these trained shoemakers and tailors.
Below is the rough estimate of how they could work. For example; if 50 shoemakers were trained, recruited and provided with the quality raw materials, assuming each of them is capable of making 10 shoe daily, then 10x30 is 300 meaning each shoemaker would be making 300 shoes monthly, then 300x50 which is the total number of shoemakers is 15,000. Assuming the minimum price for each shoe is 4,000, then 4,000x15,000 is 60,000,000. Assuming each shoemakers is to be remunerated with the sum of 50,000 as monthly salary, 50,000x the total number of shoemakers is 2,500,000 and I also believed that 27,500,000 is enough to purchase the required raw materials, then 10,000,000 for other expenses, and we would have 20,000,000 as net profit. The same analysis should also be applicable to tailoring.
These products should be marketed and distributed across the nation. It should also be made available to the staff of Ajaokuta LGA on credit to be deducted from their salary at subsidize rate. I strongly believed that if these is properly organised and managed, it will definitely aggrandize the internal revenue resources of our local government and again it would also generate employment opportunities and discourage idleness as it could encourage youths to learn handwork.
Moreover, local government should also look into the possibility of organizing people into various cooperative groups where bulk financial assistance could be rendered. The importance of this towards poverty reduction cannot be over-emphasized. The means and methods of collecting local funds should also not be seen as prohibitive. The exaltation of the internal revenue resources is to ensure the exoneration of the economic and financial burden of our dear local government inorder to facilitate swift development.
Secondly, the issue of probity, transparency and accountability must be given serious attention. The problem of corruption is a clog in the wheel of progress in our local government. It has portrayed a bad image of our local government administrators. In this wise, there should be credible auditing of the accounts of local government at regular intervals. The audit reports should be released in earnest and its implementation should be given serious attention. Auditing should not be made "a postmortem exercise which essentially points accusing fingers at officials years after such officials have left local government service".
The local government executives must be accountable to the masses that voted them into power. They should endeavor to publish their monthly allocation vis-à-vis their ongoing projects, achievements and challenges on periodical basis. This would exonerate them from unnecessary embarrassment and accusation of non-performance on the basis of financial impropriety.
This actually affected the previous administrator in person of Hon. Aloysius Okino as there were unnecessary accusations regarding the percentage payment of workers salary. Back then, there were a lot of fabricated rumours regarding federal allocation where some people concocted that most of the time he received ample allocation from federal government, that he only decided to embezzled the funds and paid percentage to the workers. That if not, the allocations he often received is more than enough to sometime pay more than 2 months salaries. Although, this was a mere rumour but a destructive one. It is one of the factors that cost him dearly during his election.
Thirdly, local governments allocation from federation account should be directly allocated to the local governments to prevent the state governments and other powerful forces tinkering with them. A situation whereby state governments in particular usurp some of the powers of the local governments should be stopped.
The federal government is spending heavily on local governments, we are now clamouring for accountability. I, therefore make a plea to President muhammedu Buhari's led administration to set-up effective monitoring and supervisory team to scrutinize the activities of the States and local governments to ensure that allocations are judiciously used.
Finally, I enjoin all our political leaders, traditional leaders, charismatic leaders, the meaningful sons and daughters of our dear local government including those that resides outside Ajaokuta LGA to work together as one regardless of their political affiliation, creed, sex, clan etc to promote peace and unity and also to ensure the revitalization of Ajaokuta iron and steel company. More self-help or community development projects should also be organized to enhance development as government cannot satisfies all the needs of our dear local government due to lack of sufficient funds.
All hands must therefore be on deck to ensure rejuvenation of Ajaokuta local government.