Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has advocated the need to equip local government councillors with adequate knowledge and skills on revenue generation and resource management.
AbdulRazaq made the call in Ilorin on Monday when he received the Group 6 Senior Executive of Course 44, 2022, of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru nesr Jos.
Dr Sambo Mamman led the team on the visit to the Government House, Ilorin.
The group, which started their weeklong study tour of the state on May 20, is working on the theme: “Strengthening Local Governance in Nigeria: Challenges, Options and Opportunities”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the participants comprised top security officers, academics, technocrats and high ranking public servants.
AbdulRazaq, who reaffirmed that his administration does not interfere in the running of the local governments in the state, said it became imperative to guide the local councils on administrative techniques and against misplacement of priorities, amidst their agitations for financial independence.
“As a government we have a policy of non-interference. We believe in seperation of powers.
“The only interference we have with the local governments is to guide them on prioritisation of their spendings, with payment of salaries as their first line charge,” he said.
“With the situation in the country and what we met after they pay salaries there is basically nothing left to the extent that in the last two months we have to be lending local governments N400 to N500 million per month to be able to pay 100 per cent salary.”
He noted that local governments are today facing big financial challenge because most of the councils had over-staffed for political reasons, and on the basis of undue interference by the previous administrations in the state.
“We know the scope and focus of the local governments – primary healthcare. How did we find ourselves here, to a state where all their revenues, both federal allocation and IGR, go into paying salaries?
“If you go back to the beginning of this republic, salaries were accounted for below 50 per cent of what local governments got. Some local governments were below 40 per cent.
“That was the period you would see local government chairmen (in some parts of Nigeria) flying to Dubai and London, and the state governments too were trying to help them manage their funds by doing joint projects and helping them, basically interfering in their activities.
“In Kwara state in particular, 100 per cent of the allocation for local government have been for payment of salaries.
“Their staff strength grew up because they employed people who are not supposed to be there – fake names, ghost workers were collecting salaries and are still collecting till today,” he added.
AbdulRazaq also said a part of the local government money was going to wrong pockets, saying it requires more than using just BVN for the government to completely tackle the ghost workers syndrome in the local councils.
He told the researchers the challenges his administration inherited and how it is gradually overcoming them, with particular reference to the huge investments education, health and agricultural sectors.
He commended them for conducting a painstaking research on how to address the lingering financial crisis in the local government administration in the country and wished them success at the end of the study.
The meeting was attended by the Commander of the 22 Armour Brigade Sobi, Brig.-General Abubakar Andulsalam; Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Mamman Jubril; Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, Aliyu Muyideen; and Permanent Secretary Political, Cabinet and Special Services,Mr Sabitiyu Grillo.
The Leader of the team had earlier said their visit to the state was to ascertain the strength of local government councils and the challenges they face in their operations.
Mamman commended the governor for giving the local governments the needed support to thrive, even as he requested the government to guide the local councils on ways of improving their IGR to sustain them.
“Your Excellency, we have come to Kwara State to find out for ourselves how Kwara State Government is actually strengthening local governments in their domains; the challenges the state government is facing, and the options and the opportunities,” he said.
“We are happy and indeed commend you for the developmental strides we have seen. We sincerely appreciate you for what we saw even in the local governments, and that is an indication that you are actually assisting the third tier of government in the state.
“We know they are doing very well but I believe they will do even more better with more funding.
“And I want to say here that local government councils should be encouraged to explore other areas of internal generation of funds because they cannot continue to rely on the state government for all they need.”
Navy Captain Babatunde Qodir, who spoke on behalf of the participants, thanked AbdulRazaq and the state government for the warm reception and their given access to needed information throughout their stay.
Gov Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom has urged the Federal Government to adopt the reports of the study tours of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) to turn around the dwindling socio-economic and political fortunes of the nation.
Emmanuel gave the charge when participants in the Senior Executive course 44, 2022, of NIPSS, who are on a study tour to the state, paid a courtesy visit on him at the Government House, Uyo, on Friday.
The Governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, described NIPSS as the highest policy “Think-Tank” in the country.
He noted that the institute and its study participants have continued to make significant contributions towards improvements in different sectors of our national life without commensurate utilisation.
He said that the product of a multi-sectoral study group that seeks to proffer practical solutions to the problems of the nation should be better utilised in shaping the policy framework for the nation.
“The fact that you are able to visit every part of this country at any point in time, gives you a national view of our nation, therefore you should know the problems and help government to tackle these challenges to help improve the country,” Emmanuel said.
The governor reassured course participants of the state’s commitment to support and be part of anything that will bring progress to the country.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Retired Brig.-Gen. C. F. J. Udaya, said that the institution has been helping in formulating policies for government.
Udaya said on an annual basis, the institute conducts the Senior Executive Course with a task by the federal government to tackle topical and challenging problems of governance.
He added that the federal government uses the instrumentality of the senior executive course of the National Institute in addressing the challenges facing the country.
He explained that participants were divided into seven study groups and are to visit 14 states of the federation, seven states in the North and seven states in the south.
He said, “Akwa Ibom was selected as one of the states for the study tour with the theme: “Strengthening Local Governance, challenges, options and opportunities.”
The Enugu State Government has trained 250 school principals on contemporary skills to build their capacity and improve the quality of education in the state. In a speech at the workshop in Enugu on Tuesday, the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Uche Eze, gave assurance that government would continue to build the capacity of principals and teachers. The workshop is organised by the Post-Primary Schools Management Board (PPSM) in partnership with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau. Eze said that the workshop was part of the government’s efforts to ensure that school administrators acquired modern skills in teaching. According to him, this will in turn improve the quality of education in the state. He urged the participants to put into practice what they learnt in order to enhance their competences. “Because we cannot bring all the teachers in the state together in a place, we have decided to bring the principals, who are leaders in their various schools. “By the time we equip them and come up with relevant skills and strategies that will help for efficiency, it will be their responsibilities to take that back to their schools. “And those of us at the headquarters, who are supervisors of what is happening, will from time to time visit the schools to see if the principals are actually implementing the things they learnt,” Eze said. One of the facilitators, AVM Uche Nwagwu, said he was satisfied with the number of participants and their interest in the training, describing it as incredible. He said the training showed that the state government was giving education due attention, adding that it should be sustained. Nwagwu, however, appealed to the government to extend the training to teachers in primary schools, considering their role in formative years of the children. “Start this kind of training for teachers in primary schools, get to those in secondary schools before addressing the proprietors,” he said. Also, the NIPSS Director of Studies, Mrs Oluwafunmilayo Para-Mallam, said that the workshop was key to sustaining the quality of education in the state. In one of the contributions, Mr Sylvanus Onoyima, the Senior Special Adviser to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on Due Process and SERVICOM, commended PPSMB for organising the workshop.Onoyima urged PPSMB to intensify efforts in monitoring the schools to ensure that they complied with the set standards. Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, PPSMB, Mrs Favour Ugwuanyi, applauded the state government for providing necessary logistics for the training. Ugwuanyi also said that the principals should replicate the training in their schools when they return from vacation. My advice to the principals is that they should go back after the vacation to replicate the workshop in their schools for three to four days. “The participants have all the details of this workshop and you will see that teachers will improve in their teacher. “Also, the children, by the grace of God, will change and we will have quality youths in the state,” Ugwuanyi said. The Principal, Idaw River Girls’ Secondary School, Mrs. Ethel Onoh, said the training had exposed them to become better and more effective leaders in their schools. Source Credit: NAN
Making Tafawa Balewa "resting place" attractive to tourists
Nigerian News Agency
Bauchi State is home to many national monuments and game reserves. The reserves are the delight of tourists for the natural ecosystem.
One of the heavily patronized monuments is the tomb of the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
The tomb of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first and only prime minister of Nigeria, is located in Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state.
The tomb was declared a national monument on August 29, 1979 by the military administration.
Construction of the tomb and the building that encloses it began in 1977 and it was inaugurated in July 1979.
Within the compound are the reference library, gallery, mosque and tomb of the former Nigerian leader, often known as the Golden Voice of Africa.
Balewa was born in Bauchi in December 1912, into the family of Yakubu Dan Zala and Fatima Inna.
The young Balewa began his education at a Koranic school in the city of Bauchi and later attended Katsina College, now (Barewa College). Upon completing his high school education in 1933, he returned home and began teaching at Bauchi High School, where he rose to the position of principal in 1941.
In 1944, Balewa went to the Institute of Education, University of London, and on his return was appointed Inspector of Schools.
His political tenure began in 1946 when he was elected to the Northern Nigerian House of Assembly and in 1951 elected Vice President of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC).
The party nominated Balewa to Lagos as a Member of Parliament in 1952. In the same year, Balewa was appointed Minister of Public Works and Transport.
In 1957, the NPC won the elections with the majority of the deputies and Balewa was elected Prime Minister.
With independence in 1960, Balewa became the Prime Minister of independent Nigeria and was re-elected in 1964. He was assassinated along with other prominent Nigerian leaders during the January 15, 1966 coup.
Mohammed Akuyam, a lead tour guide at the tomb, said the building was designed to reflect the simple life Balewa lived.
Akuyam said the "darkness that greets visitors" at the tomb's entrance signifies the difficulties his colleagues faced in the struggle for independence from the British colonial administration.
He said that the light shining through a thin window next to the hand after the first darkness represents rays of hope for the nation to free itself from colonial administration.
"The second darkness in the corridor to the tomb signifies the continuing struggle for Nigerian independence, while the full brightness illuminating the tomb yard signifies the achievement of Nigerian independence in 1960," he said.
On the rough staircase leading to the tomb, Akuyam said, it signifies the hardships experienced by the colonial administration, while the smooth one symbolizes the freedom enjoyed after achieving self-government.
The intercessions on the paths to the tomb reflect the crises and civil disorder that greeted Balewa's assassination.
He said: “The colors on the tomb walls represent different ethnic groups in Nigeria, and the late Balewa served those interests at heart and tried to unite them as one nation.
"The open roof of the tomb represents the open-mindedness of the late prime minister and the simple life he lived."
According to him, the tomb is in good condition and sees a large number of visitors, especially students who are out on an excursion to learn and see some of the late prime minister's personal belongings.
According to the tour guide, visiting the tomb is free, but adult visitors to the exhibition section (gallery) pay N100 per head and N50 for children.
He also said that students from schools across the country visit the tomb regularly, adding that around 7,555 students visit the tomb annually.
The tour guide also said that 75 students from the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPS), Kuru, Jos, were in the tomb's study tower in September 2021, while 22 foreign students or tourists also visited the tomb in 2021.
He made a list of important personalities who visited the tomb to include former President Olusegun Obasanjo on July 16, 1999,
former President Goodluck Jonathan, in September 2011, and former Senate President Ken Nnamani, among others.
However, Akuyam said the tomb was renovated in 2012 by the Monuments and Museums Commission, while the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) upgraded the gallery.
“All personal belongings of the late Prime Minister kept in the gallery are in good condition.
“We have more than 20 employees working at the tomb, including guides, cleaners, receptionists, as well as auditorium and library staff.
"The tomb is in charge of the State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, while the gallery is in charge of the National Commission of Museums and Monuments," he said.
Mukhtar Baba, the librarian, said the gallery is prone to flooding that submerged the premises during the rainy season due to a lack of drainage.
Mukhtar urged the government at all levels to always build drains to control perennial flooding.
He also advocated creating awareness to educate people about the facility in order to attract more visitors.
For his part, Muhammad Nasiru-Yusuf, General Manager of the Bauchi State Tourism Board, called for the laws governing the control and ownership of the monument to be reviewed to improve the proper management of this important national asset.
Nasiru-Yusuf said the move was imperative to speed up the tomb's upgrade to meet international standards, increase tourism potential and attract more visitors.
He urged the Bauchi state government to declare January 15 as a public holiday in memory of Tafawa Balewa.
Unquestionably, the Balewa tomb is maintained by the authorities, but review of existing laws on such monuments is essential to ensure the protection of the tombs of other national heroes. (Characteristics)
**If used, please credit the writer and Nigerian News AgencyKeep reading