By Erasmus Ikhide
‘YOU do me, I do you, God no go vex’ is a diluted coinage of Nigerian
adulterated English for ‘an eye, for an eye and ‘a tooth for a tooth’. It’s
a vengeful hysteria bereaved of ethical, political, economic and spiritual
morality. ‘You do me, I do you’ is a primitive propensity for getting even
with political opponent or enemy, who knowingly or unknowingly hurt your
hunt and cause you incalculable damage that debased your humanity.
‘You do me, I do you’ is an invocation in the degenerate Nigeria politics
and a way of celebrating institutional collapse which paved the ways for
impunity, brigandage and rottenness of the political structures and
architectures that keeps the nation in perpetual damination. It’s a
strategy that was prevalent in the era of hunter gatherer which mocks 21st
century Nigerian politicians who have refused to be human.
In 2013, former Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State roled out the drums
to conduct election into the eighteen local government councils. It turned
out to be hoarse! One fateful morning — putting on dishevelled appearance —
something suggesting drunkenness after what seemed like rumple or dizzy
encounter with whores, he upturned the party primary conducted across the
state. In split seconds, Oshiomhole selected candidates for the Action
Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for the eighteen local councils, long after the
primary elections have been conducted for the same purpose at the various
local government areas. That was the beginning of total madness that
attended the exercise.
At the election proper between the ruling (ACN) and Peoples Democratic
Party (PDP) in one particular instance, the former union leader became
dementia. While vote counting was in progress and one Mr. John Yakubu of
the (PDP) was coasting home to victory in Esan North East local council
against the (ACN) candidate, Mr. Sam Oboh, Oshiomhole forced the state
owned television and radio stations to announce the victory of his party’s
candidate as the winner of the election! When confronted by newmen that
election was still in progress, the former governor chortled at his own
excecrable pun: “PDP did the same thing while they were in power in this
state”! It was a perfect ‘you do me, I do you’ recitation!! That’s the
tragic story of Nigeria democratic experience.
The barrage of bad news from the local councils elections across the 36
States of the federation have remained dangerously pervasive and no one can
easily predict an end to it, any time soon. A friend’s call from Akwa-Ibom
State ruptured my optimism for the redemption of local government elections
in Nigeria at the twilight of 2018. He was extending invitation to me to
attended his swearing-in ceremony at an agreed date as a council chair when
the election was yet to be conducted! When I quipped about the
inappropriateness of the invite, he retorted thus: “you’re not a Nigerian
in Nigeria”. The usurpation of the people’s will is so real, commonplace,
complacently received and the perversion of the people’s mandate is so
entrenched to the extent that the ruling class dramatizes the obscenity
without any form of resistance from the electorate.
The national assembly moves to correct certain anomalies in the local
government administration, which partly stipulates that any local
government without democratically elected officials will no longer receive
federal allocation in such states, thereby stampeding them to conduct
elections hurriedly has created more crises than solve them.
A legal luminary, Barrister Yomi Obaditan posit that the unless (INEC)
takes charge of the conduct of council elections across the states in
Nigeria, we will continue to remain in the wilderness of self-imposed under
“First, there must be properly democratically conducted election in all the
local governments across the country. The election should not be conducted
by States Electoral commission, if the conduct and outcome is to be free
and fair. The reasons are not far fetched. The commission members are
usually governors appointees and they must protect the governor’s interest.
Some of the state commissioners in the commission are card carrying members
of the governor’s party. This affinity affects their sense of neutrality
and makes them to be biased and even allow the executive to rig the
elections in favour of their appointing governors.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should conduct
elections into local councils, otherwise any political party in power will
continue to win all the elective positions in such the local governments.
The fund or revenues derived at the local councils should determine the
number of workers. The era of federal allocation will be over once the
local government department of agriculture embark on communal and
mechanized farming. Financial leakages should be curbed and accountability
maintained. Godfathers should be discouraged who fix misfits and charlatans
to run the affairs of local councils”, he said.
However, local government administration is under the state in accordance
with section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution. The 1976 local government
reform was carried out with the creation of 774 local government areas. The
sole aim was to bring the local government closer to the people. Both the
reform and the Constitution require that only elected members should
administer the local government areas. Therefore, a large percentage of
these local councils are being rubbed by selected members, which they call
caretakers. The implications of these have been the total failure of the
managers or chairmen who bluntly refused to give account of their
stewardship to the electorate, because they were never elected by the
people, to start with.
Consequently, the local government has since become the avenues for looting
of commonwealth by the governors and their political appointees. The local
government was supposed to provide water, schools, markets, motor parks,
playgrounds, cemeteries for the people and from these services generate
enough revenues with which to run affairs of governance process. But
because oil money, most of these services are no longer provided. The local
councils have become dumping grounds for political thugs, mistresses, and
gossipers and snippers of the political leaders.
The employment of lazy and unproductive workers at these local government
and inclusion of ghost workers in the payroll overblown the monthly
salaries of the workforce that have since become a big headache for
governments to pay their workers. The example of Kaduna State where
teachers employed could not pass primary four pupils’ tests best explained
the crisis. The redundancy that have befell the local governments is mind
numbing. The way out is not in seeking for local government autonomy alone
because the Constitution recognises only two tiers of governments: the
state and the federal under a federal administration.
The monthly allocation from the federal government is a depressant that
killed revenue generation at the local government levels. Until the state
stop from pilfering with the local government funds the little that is
coming from Abuja will not be well utilised for the rural dwellers. Until
(INEC) is Constitutionally mandated to conduct local government elections
in Nigeria, we will remain condemned to ‘you do me, I do you’ democracy
that elevate mediocrity, rewards heartless godfathers but take the nation
Erasmus, A Public Affairs analyst writes from Lagos
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