Be responsible custodians of peoples’ mandate – Elrufai tells new LG chairmen
…Let service to our people be your priority
Governor Nasir Ahmad Elrufai of Kaduna State has charged the 19 newly-elected Local Government chairmen and the four Caretaker chairmen sworn-in today, to be responsible custodians of the people’s mandate by placing societal service over and above other priorities of governance.
The governor also gave kudos to the State legislature for giving the desired cooperation in the course of the administration’s local government reform efforts, meant to jump-start the Third tier from its old image of an appendage of the state executive arm to an institution of public service delivery.
Turning to the incoming council chairmen Elrufai captured the essence if their emergence as leaders and the task ahead, thus: “The people of Kaduna State have chosen those to lead them at the local level, and they have chosen you in elections conducted using electronic voting. This state government took the conscious decision to adopt this innovation, to promote election integrity.”
The full text of Elrufai’s remark
I welcome you all to this significant event in the governance of our state. It is my pleasure to preside as our new local government chairmen take their oaths of office. It has been a long journey to get here. On behalf of the state government, I congratulate the new chairmen, and wish them every success in the service of our people. From whatever party you have emerged, you are today assuming a sacred mandate to do right by all our people, in accordance with the laws of the land and the oaths you have freely sworn. Please let service to our people be your priority! I will return to this issue before closing my remarks.
Since 2015, this government has spent considerable time and effort to reform the local government system so that it can deliver public service at the grassroots. When we came into office, we inherited a local government system that was doing little more than paying its own employees. At least eight of these local governments could not even pay their staff salaries without assistance from the state government. These troubled local governments had been sustained by a perverse and unfair system that took money from solvent local governments to pay the staff. Rather than inquire into the causes of the financial difficulties of the affected LGs, and taking remedial steps to address them, the previous government chose to penalise those without financial problems.
The fact is that many of the local governments were overstaffed, but they also lacked the right quality of personnel to enable them deliver decent services at the local level. They had been deformed into little more than patronage machines. This crisis of capacity reflected, for example, in the clamour by international donors that primary healthcare should be moved from local government to state government control. We hope that in a few years, we would be able to restore primary healthcare to the full and effective control of capable local governments.
We have taken careful steps to reform the local government system for performance and service delivery. This government has addressed the capacity deficit by directing the recruitment of professionals, including lawyers, engineers and architects for the local government service. Clear establishments have been prescribed and implemented for each LGA to ensure that they have just the optimal number of personnel. And we have restored every local government to solvency.
With the kind support of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, we have enacted a new local government administration law. The law places governance at the local level on the presidential system model. While executive powers shall vest in the chairmen, the elected councillors shall constitute the legislative arm. Specific roles are assigned to the vice-chairmen, and supervisory councillors. I urge the new chairmen to study this law carefully. The Ministry of Local Government Affairs has organised a retreat to fully acquaint you with the new system of local government, and I urge your full participation for the greater good of the state.
The retreat will explain your vital role in ensuring coordinated development across the state, using the local government development plan, and your membership of the State Economic Planning Board.
The people of Kaduna State have chosen those to lead them at the local level, and they have chosen you in elections conducted using electronic voting. This state government took the conscious decision to adopt this innovation, to promote election integrity. The task of the elected is now to show themselves worthy of this mandate. I wish each and everyone of you well in creditably discharging this burden of leadership.
Let me end this by going back to my first appeal to the chairmen assembled here today. It is God that entrusts power to whom He chooses. God has chosen you to be the leader of all citizens in your local government areas without regard to their political, ethnic or religious persuasion. You are, from today, custodians of a sacred trust. You must therefore be fair, just and reasonable in all your dealings, decisions and interactions. You must not discriminate against those that did not vote for you. Neither should you favour those with whom you share the same ethnicity or religion as that will offend your oath of office. May God give us all the grace to do justice to all according to law.
Once again, I wish you great success in serving our people.
Thank you for listening.
God bless Kaduna State!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, made this submission at the swearing-in ceremony of the chairmen of the local government councils in Kaduna State, held at the General Hassan Usman Katsina House, Kawo, on Tuesday, 26th June 2018.