I spend considerable period of time thinking of solutions to the developmental impasse we have presently in Anambra State. Most often, we assume that constructing roads is the only measure for development, hence any one who asphalts as much roads as possible or constructs more bridges is often seen as the most performing public officer. While the construction of roads and bridges are necessary it’s not the only basis for development; development is a lot wider concept.
The sole aim of government is to improve on the standard of living of its people and provide security for investments to thrive. Improving the standard of living is another wide concept that is often misunderstood yet it is the basis for governance. Strategically investing in Health, Education and activating various local economy will ensure an improved standard of living for the people and leave a long lasting impression.
In our country where 60% of the population live in rural areas and largely depend on income from Agriculture to thrive, it behooves that government policies and funding should be channelled to activities performed by most of the citizens or to areas where much of the population reside. Sadly, this is not the case as government has always seen the beautification and expansion of existing urban centres, perhaps for optics, as development and has allowed the rural areas collapse, leaving a larger number of people to live below the poverty line under despicable conditions which lead to a high rate of rural-urban migration.
The framers of democracy understood that development must start from the base, hence anchored development on the Local Government system. It is the local government system whom should create Agricultural Policies for a local government understanding their peculiarities. They are the ones who should be in charge of the Primary Health care Centres which anchors the healthcare delivery system. They should be in charge of basic education, markets, inner town roads, officially classified as Grade C Roads and etc. In truth, there can be no eradication of poverty or a successful poverty alleviation program without a functional local government system.
Sadly, Anambra state has held just one local government election in the last fifteen years, officially strangulating the local government system. The government attempt has been to micro manage the local government- an attempt to manage the local government system from the state capital. This can never work and will continue to fail. A voter at Amaetiti or Anam or any other part of Anambra will find a better use critiquing the activities of the Local Government Chairmen than that of the State Governor because the Local Government is the closest government to the people and all it activities affect the people.
Orumba North, my local government receive circa N40million from FAAC allocation every month, I am sure if given the freedom by the state, the local government can raise over N100m monthly from IGR, no matter how small it is, it will go a long way in opening up rural roads, upgrading educational institutions and equipping Primary Health Care Centres. If properly improved on, the IGR can be increased to over N500m monthly birthing more funds to invest on human capital development and because it’s the government closer to the people they wiill be able to appraise the performance and put the chairman on his or her toes at all time.
No doubt, the Local Government System is the panacea for development and if we want development we must allow the Local Government System to breathe.
Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo
Chairman/CEO Wichtech Group of Companies