Group launches local govt accountability award to tackle corruption at grassroots

DEAN Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has launched a local government accountability award with the aim of combating corruption at the grassroots.

Semiye Michael, founder of DEAN Initiative, on Thursday, said the development was informed by the lack of transparency in the handling of local government despite being the closest to the people.

He said it is unfortunate that both federal and state governments have continued to stall attempts to make the local government independent and more accountable to the people.

This, Michael said, makes it “the worst place” for corruption to take place in the country.

“As it stands today, the worst form of corruption take place at the local government and this is made so simply because they have remained unchecked,” he said.

“774 LGAs in Nigeria, this is probably one of the highest in Africa with so much structural abilities to transform local development in an unusual speed. But we all have sat back helplessly to watch LGAs become a political compensation for election and party loyalists at the ultimate expense of the citizens.

“Local government accountability award is part of DEAN’s strategic short term plan to promote transparency, accountability, citizen participation and responsiveness to citizens among the Local Government level of governance in Nigeria.”

Michael said the six area councils in federal capital territory (FCT) would be used as a pilot scheme because of their distinct characteristics.

“The six area councils in FCT serve as perfect examples. They are all autonomous and receive their allocations directly. They also conduct all their elections as at when due. Whatever happens with governance at local level in FCT is what can happen if all the LGAs across the country enjoys autonomy.”

According to him, local governments eligible to win the award include those with functional website and social media platforms as well as a Freedom of Information (FOI) desk.

Other criteria, he said, include local governments with proof of FOI responses to the citizens, current year’s budget and IGR on their websites.

He added that participation forms and information kits will be sent to each area council in FCT with official letter of notification from July 5, which must be filled and returned on or before July 30.

“Citizens across the FCT will also have the chance to nominate any Area Council of their choice for the award between August 1st and 15th, 2020,” he said.

“Judges will work between August 16th to 28th to review entries and decide the winner. The winner will be announced on the 3rd of September, 2020. The award ceremony will hold September 8th.”

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