Experts urge councils’ empowerment for cities governance
They spoke in Lagos last week during the launch of the Africities 2015 to be held this month in Johannesburg, South Africa. A Non-Government Organisation, the United Cities of Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA), is promoting the five-day conference, which would bring together stakeholders in governance of cities’ and urban development.
During a chat with the media last week, resource persons like foremost town planners including Professors Akin Mabogunje and Johnson Falade examined some issues that have to do with local governance and urbanization.
The duo lamented the scenario in Nigeria, where the local government authority does little in the initiating and delivering development programmes for her people, arguing that, the over concentration of power at the center was not good for any nation desirous of attaining urbanization.
In a recorded message, which was relayed at the event, Mabogunje lamented the failure of most African governments to see their urban centres as good sources of revenue generation and development. “When we say an urban centre, it is not a place where people live alone but it is like a corporation to be run like a business”, the foremost town planner said.
According to him, “Our leaders are failing from appreciating the level of subsidiarity. It is wrong for a higher government to be handling what a local government can handle much better”, adding that, what the continent needs, is to have a clear understanding of the nature of the urban centres and leaders who are knowledgeable in urban governance.
To Falade, without strong, effective and efficient local government in place, there would not be any meaningful development, stressing that, the need to have a government close to the people has always been there, but lamented that, even those who should query their local governments have sold their rights for peanuts.
He urged the people to ask for empowered local government to drive local government and development at the grassroots.
According to the Secretary General, UCLGA, Mr. Jean-Pierre Elong-Mbassi said the organization’s dedication throughout its history has been driven by its commitment to the empowerment of local people in local communities and their participation in the development of Africa and its governance, adding that, the decentralisation of power, referred to as, ‘the second liberation of the continent,’ as well as its advocacy for citizenship through participation and collaboration, best practice and transparency in local government, was the UCLGA hallmark.
Elong-Mbassi said, the summit will create a platform for tackling issues affecting urban and economic development across the continent with a sharp focus on collaborative partnerships, best practices, innovative and strategic thinking and solutions to the challenges of development and urbanization.
With more than 5,000 participants expected from across Africa and the globe, and over 25 open sessions for stakeholders ranging from the World Bank on one side, to slum dwellers on the other, the theme of this year’s summit is “Shaping the Future of Africa with the People: Africa’s Local Government Contribution to the Africa 2063 Vision.” The summit will be host to local and national government officials, heads of state, economists, city and financial planners, investors and stakeholders.