...inaugurates liaison officers for 18 LGAs
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his government will conduct an updated performance audit of all local councils in the state, to review their performance in the previous year.
Obaseki said this when he inaugurated Liaison Officers for the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state, at the Government House in Benin City.
He noted that the government conducted a similar audit earlier, noting that one of the challenges identified in the audit report was the inability of local governments to sustain themselves financially.
The governor said, “I expected that we would have a local government council in place and conduct an audit for each LGA in 2021. Unfortunately, we have not had councils to review those reports and take corrective actions to correct the lack of processes we saw from that audit report.
“I am going to be conducting an updated audit report for 2022 on the activities of each local government to see if things have improved or deteriorated further.
“One of the challenges we saw in the audit report was the inability of local councils to sustain themselves financially as about three or four local governments couldn't cover their salary bills on an ongoing basis.”
He added, “The local governments have very little or no revenue base after distributing FAAC from Abuja but have very high cost of staff. The danger we face today is that the local governments exist to pay salaries, but yet they don't have enough money to pay salaries of workers and running costs.”
Reiterating the importance of the liaison offices in the local government administration, the governor said, “We have a lacuna in terms of political governance in our local governments. We have used civil servants over the years to run the affairs and manage the council areas and this is not ideal. We expect that we would be able to have an election after the series of elections in the country.
“As a government, we don't want to start another year and lead the local government unguarded in the policy direction of the government. We decided to appoint liaison officers for the 18 local government areas who will report to me directly to let me know what is going on in each local government area of the state.
“The local government is supposed to be independent and self-sufficient but, as a state, we have a challenge taking responsibility for the local governments. It's not the function of the state to clean markets, sweep streets as most council areas are dirty. That is why our priority projects in 2023 will be to clean and green Edo.”
He continued: “As governor, I have not touched local governments’ money and revenue but rather take from our reserve to help local government. It's good for local governments to be autonomous but it must be self-sufficient and it should be run properly.
“As a State, we pay salaries on the 26th of every month. So, why can't the local governments do the same? We get revenue from Abuja like they do but they can't pay salaries as we do.
“These new appointees' tenure should not last more than 120 days, because by then, we should have conducted elections. They should be able to give me reports to enable us to put our local governments in proper perspective and in good shape. The local governments are supposed to coordinate the Edo vigilante Security Network in the various council areas but it seems they are not putting in more effort. Also sanitations, road grading, healthcare, controlling street trading, healthcare amongst other areas.”
Obaseki further noted, “Our internal plans will now be shared with local government liaison officers and citizens at the local government areas. We would leave behind a clear roadmap as to where Edo will be going in the next 30 years.
“We are putting in place an economic and social plan, the Benin Urban and Edo Regional Master plan. We must strengthen governance at the base. It is difficult to run a government if you don't know where you are going. Until we have a proper election, we cannot just leave the local government to float on its own.”
Speaking on behalf of the Liaison Officers, Newman Ugiagbe from Orhionmwon LGA, thanked the governor for the appointment, assuring that they will diligently discharge their duties in line with the Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) vision of the Governor.