Nollywood icon and university lecturer, Dr. Sola Fosudo of the Department of Theatre Arts, Lagos State University, has called on to local government functionaries to adopt community relations strategy in the administration of their councils to engender sustainable development that will impact positively on the lives of the citizenry.
Dr. Fosudo made this call in a paper, titled, “Community Relations and Local Government Administration: Strategies for Development,” at the two-day National Workshop on Culture in the Transformation Agenda, with the theme, “Culture and the Socio-Economic Transformation of Local Governments in Nigeria: Setting an Agenda for Development,” organized by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), in collaboration with Leading Edge Academy, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
The theatre scholar, stated that, there was need, through the workshop, to help strengthen the managerial competencies and leadership skills of local government administrators and expose them to global trends in the effective management of the system, saying, “the legal mandate of local government councils relates, to a large extent, on how to make these geographical communities relational ones, because it is only when there is interaction between governments and the communities, there would be room for impacting positively on the lives of the people to bring about effective development.”
The university don therefore urged people in the communities, especially, those who have the responsibility of administering them, to acquire knowledge of interaction, which would enable them form strong attachments to their particular milieu and with the people, towards seeking collective means of influencing or taking decisions about how to manage and develop their various communities.
According to him, this was important because the principal demands that citizens make of their local government officials was the right to be carried along in the decision-making process to shape their communities, as the local governments, the closest tier of government to the people at the grassroots, were created basically to decongest the functions of central governments and to provide services that are local in character for better growth.
Dr. Fosudo stated further that the local government, which is a decentralized political entity, enjoys constitutional and legal powers to perform certain legislative, administrative and quasi-judicial functions for the people at the grass-root level, and it is therefore an indispensable tier, because their functions affect the lives of the local communities directly and these activities contribute essentially to national development.
He listed some of the strategic advantages of the local government system to include, increase in the scope for citizenship participation in the government of their locality; providing valuable political education, which exposes citizens to the acquisition and use of power and authority; training people for higher public offices, being more sensitive to local opinion; and enabling easier response to the demands at the grassroots, since it understands the needs of its own locality and thus can easily mobilize for community development.
The eminent scholar, opined that if community relations measures are used effectively by local government officials, development, which had remained elusive in our country, with its negative effects of diminishing healthcare services in our society, sliding literacy rates, skyrocketing unemployment resulting to rising impoverishment of the populace, crumbling infrastructure and severe brain drain, would be curbed, leading to the transformation and advancement of our society.
Jonathan N. Nicodemus