Prominent citizens back OOTC’s call for LG autonomy, credible polls

Three prominent Nigerians and democracy enthusiasts, Tito Adeniyi-Aderoju, Bimbo Oloyede and Adeola Azeez, have supported the demand by the Office of the Citizen for local government autonomy and conduct of credible elections for sustainable democracy.

They spoke at the recent OOTC maiden Democracy Dialogue with the theme, ‘Promoting Sustainable Development Models for Effective Local Governance’.

The OOTC objectives align with the tenets of the #FixPolitics Initiative, all geared towards the growth of enduring democracy in Africa.

Explaining the essence of the programme, Adeniyi-Aderoju, who is also a marketing expert, said it was meant to advocate useful reforms that would empower local government administration and create room for credible elections at the grassroots.

“We are here to carry out useful dialogue to ensure local governments represent and empower the local people. We are dedicated people, committed to moving Africa forward. We believe in democracy that serves the people.

“Also, we are here to catalyse meaningful dialogue and develop strategies to empower local governments for sustainable development and effective administration,” she told participants at the programme.

She also spoke on the challenges facing local governments, and the best practices to empower them for transformative administration.

For Azeez, to achieve a working local government system, there is the need for decentralisation of power that will lead to autonomy.

She noted transparency, open data, and low corruption as fundamental to good governance and achievement of the objectives.

Azeez, a seasoned banker, stressed that the leaders need to engage citizens actively in decision-making processes to entrench healthy democracy, adding, “Provision of quality healthcare, education, social services and well-planned environments should be prioritised.

“Emphasis should be on environmental protection and sustainable development, which are necessary for long-term progress. There is also a need to encourage individuals with competence, character and capacity to serve at the local government level to drive societal transformation.”

The electoral body, Azeez insisted, must be truly independent to ensure free and fair elections.

She called for transparency, accountability and best practices in local governance to build trust and efficiency while advocating direct allocation of funds to local governments to eliminate conflicts and empower them to serve the people effectively.

“There is the need to ensure that issues with past elections are addressed to guarantee free and fair elections devoid of violence. The election of local government officials by the people and for the people is necessary in a democracy,” she said.

While calling for the establishment of mechanisms to monitor local government activities and report on their transparency and accountability, she added, “There is further need to support and implement sustainable development projects at the local level to ensure environmental protection and long-term growth.”

Mrs Oloyede, a veteran broadcaster, on her part, explained that the #FixPolitics Initiative is a citizen-led movement, which goal is to change the practice of politics in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world.

“We recognise that changing the political landscape requires capacity, competence and character,” the broadcaster said.

The initiative, she added, is driven by three pillars, which are represented by Work Study Groups, whose specific areas of focus tackle pertinent issues in creative ways.

According to Oloyede, WSG3 engages regulatory bodies related to constitutional and electoral reform, through television programmes and virtual dialogues, such as discussions on free and fair elections and the Diaspora voting.

While WSG2 is building a new class of politicians through its unconventional School of Politics, Policy and Governance, WSG1 is working to ensure that the voters recognise that they occupy the highest office in the land – OOTC, she noted.

WSG2, she added, operates virtually in Nigeria and Senegal, enabling its graduands to appreciate their roles as servant-leaders. “WSG2’s Big Ideas Platform also births concepts that drive growth.”

She expatiated that WSG1 was created to educate grassroots citizens and middle-income earners about the importance of being actively engaged and economically productive, so that their power is used constructively.

The OOTC, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting active citizenship and good governance in Nigeria and democracy dialogue, is a critical platform for Nigerians, who believe in strengthening local government and promoting a more effective and accountable democracy.

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