By| Ayo Salami
This convoluted incendiary piece by Muftau Gbadegesin is, by any standard lacking in detailed analysis and assessment of what the ongoing development in Oyo say of state-local intergovernmental relations in the delivery of governance in Pace- Setter.
I just read a criticism laced with distorted views of the state of extant state-local government relations in relation to the quality of governance in Oyo State. The author referenced issues that characterized some of the past administrations in the State, most especially the immediate past one in Oyo. These issues referenced by the author, including; a) Non-participatory elections into local government offices; b) unfair state-local resources flow, and many other intergovernmental issues that served aplenty in some of the past administration(s).
Going through the piece, it was indeed scary seeing the speed with which the author cascaded into a convoluted cataclysm.
I have argued consistently, standing on the observatory of history, that dissenting voices like that of Gbadegesin are also necessary to make democracy fare well and better in any clime, as it serves aplenty on how we’re measuring up to the promise of good governance— but such, when done or handled with distorted views and delivered on the premise subterfuge, becomes unwholesome for public consumption.
Makinde’s Oyo and Dapo’s Ogun are two opposite sides that doesn’t go well in the kind of comparative analysis the author gave them. The evident degeneration of governance under the arrangement of state-local intergovernmental relations in Dapo Abiodun’s Ogun, simply puts the state where it rightly belongs – among its Nigerian federating units peers, defined as it were, by poor governance and limited space for accountability. Makinde’s Oyo however, is more of an open government where local councils have more than enough of resources to cater for whatever developmental projects they may consider to undertake, and the state is the better for it today in terms of the expansion of infrastructural development across geopolitical zones in the state.
The governance system brought by Makinde is such under which there’s only enough resources to carry out developmental projects no matter how Capital intensity they may be, but not enough to go up in graft, nor enough for anybody to corner at the expense of the masses. It’s the kind of system Makinde introduced to bring back the critical desidarium of public trust and accountable back into government at all levels.
Why would Muftau Gbadegesin fail to acquit himself creditably on all fronts, especially with how local government like Lagelu became very well resourced for composite social development in the N9.6 billion Akobo – Olorunda/Abaa 8.3 km road project. Isn’t it of interest to Gbadegesin that the Oyo East local government area could boost of some N781million intervention funds to address the destruction of “Akesan inferno” through a redevelopment plan that left the market better than it was- pre-inferno. These and more are the developments serving anew in the history of state-local government relations in Oyo State, where local councils are now having capacity to bolster the big capital projects in their own climes.
This is a giant stride that was neither obtainable in the past administration in Oyo, nor in Dapo Abiodun’s Ogun. And it’s our understanding of how Governor Makinde is debunking the never-do-well image, a shibboleth as it were, with which the third tier of government (local government) has been stamped for so long in Oyo and elsewhere within Nigeria.
The author also vent on non-participatory elections into local government offices. Of which I would say, the notion that a ruling party will force participation in local elections down the throat of any opposition party, is a mistaken belief that goes hand-in-hand with political and psychological naivety. So long as the relevant state institutions on local elections are doing their bit to make participation in elections open to every political platforms in the state— the onus lies on each of the political parties to make a choice whether to participate or not. Hence, it’s enough by way of relevant institutions, to give room for all parties participation in whatever election that is to be conducted at any given period. But it’s not for any party anywhere in the world, to force participation in elections down the throat of another party. With this understanding, if the 2021 local elections in Oyo State didn’t come competitive as Gbadegesin would want it, I think it’s a question he may want the opposition parties that did not enter the contest out of their own Accord— to provide answers.
While the immediate past administration in Oyo State couldn’t conduct any democratic election into local government offices for seven years, I think its successor has been able to make a difference by conducting a successful democratic election into local government only a year after assuming office. Yes, a fundamental question there is, regarding the competitiveness of the election at that time, but such question I beg, isn’t of the governor and his ruling party to provide answers to— given how some of what we knew as opposition parties at that time, out of their own Accord back out from the contest.
This calls for attitudinal change on the part of these opposition parties. To them must be the understanding that elections are a core element of representative democracy; to be won or lost. While a ruling party, especially one that commands a great deal of respect among people, has the right to leverage off its momentum to win whatever election contest it sets to enter, opposition parties deciding to stay clear of contest out of the fear of losing is uncalled for, and it’s thus an anti-democratic attitude, and of a testament of how not to handle democracy from opposition spectrum.
The last local government elections in Oyo I guess has served lessons aplenty on these opposition parties— underscoring why we’re having eighteen or thereabout of them coming out to show a great deal of interest to compete with the ruling party in the upcoming local government elections. And I’m of the considered opinion that with this eighteen parties entering the contests, Makinde’s Oyo will have democracy in full swing in the upcoming local polls.