Micah Y. Jiba, the Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is the National President of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON). In this interview with Kingsley Madaki, he is of the view that local government autonomy would easily be granted by the incoming administration. He also speaks on other issues regarding local administration in the country. Excerpts:
What are the expectations of ALGON from the incoming president?
Well, there is this common adage in Nigeria that says soldier go soldier come, barrack remains. We, at the local government level, for a very long time waited for a change of government and now that change has come, by May 29, the presidentelect would be officially sworn into power.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is our own; he is more of a grassroots leader and that is the main reason he was voted into power by the masses. I assured my colleagues that there is no need to entertain any fear because he is coming to work with the people at the grassroots, who are equally our subjects.
Change is the only thing that is constant in life. At ALGON, we are ready to support him and we believe that as a man of integrity, he will work with us. We are facing many challenges in ALGON and with this government; we believe that the solution will come.
Local government autonomy has been a struggle that ALGON has been championing, do you expect any positive response from the incoming government?
It is simple, what belongs to Caesar should be given to Caesar. The three tiers of government have their own share from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, so the local government should be allowed to take its share from the allocation. The federal government has its percentage, likewise the states and the local governments but the local government is restricted from taking what belongs to it. The allocation can be used for the benefits of the masses and the development of rural areas.
The state government can never be everywhere and that is the reason for the third tier of government. What should be in the agenda of the incoming government is to allow the local government to directly take charge of its allocation from the federation account without interference from the state governments. We will still approach the incoming National Assembly again and also take our cry to the president-elect, who is a grassroots president and a man that the masses have been waiting for. Now that he is here, there is no doubt that he will grant the local governments autonomy.
Now that the governors’ forum has come together to become one are we likely going to see same in ALGON?
Well, the story of the governors’ forum and ALGON is not the same. Since I assumed office as ALGON president, we have been one. When I came in as the National Interim Management Committee president of ALGON, I promised Nigerians that we will come together as one and we are now one. We are working together for a common interest, which is fighting for local government autonomy.
I always come to leadership with a determination that the system must always work for the interest of the ordinary Nigerian on the street. We may not be able to compete with the state governments because of paucity of funds; I will like to inform you that we have challenged most state governments in terms of infrastructural development.
In AMAC, we dole out several gigantic roads, bridges and electrification projects that equal the standard of what FCT Administration does at state level.
So, I want to assure you that ALGON is not divided. What is your advice to the incoming administration regarding the plights of FCT residents?
It’s no longer news that the FCT residents are peace loving people and accommodating. Many governments have come and gone, so it is not new to FCT residents. I advise our new president-elect to bring his wealth of experience so that the FCT residents will enjoy him. The entire residents are happy to welcome him and are ready to work with him 100 percent.
Sir. Corruption is major mission every Nigerian would expect Buhari to start with do you think he can do it alone?
I believe its going to be a gradual process whereby all hands must be on deck Niherians has massive has expectations and beliefs by that the newly elected president of the the country General Muhammadu Buhari will rapidly end corruption in his tenure, my opinion is that I anticipates a difficult battle ahead for President– elect General Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against corruption because would have to operate in a democratic setting this time around.
So he need God to be able to tackle corruption in Nigeria without being frustrated.
Atlist I was In secondary school at Tudun Wada when he was a Military the Head of State and the Commander- in-Chief of the Nigeria Armed Forces. I learnt that people who worked under him he gave them conditions before accepting the offer, to work independently and not be under the control of anybody.
Buhari at the end did a good job and nothing like fraudulent practice in his regime. So, I can testify for him anytime.
I also learnt at that period that No Military Governor could travel outside the country or award any contract without approval from the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, who himself got directives from the Commander-in-chief.
In fact, no Military Governor was allowed to travel outside Africa. And this time around since its a democratic setting governing Nigeria may be a bit difficult to him but God will help him choose people of timber, calibre and wisdom that he will work without any sentiment attached.
Well i reserve a little phobia for him to fight corruption in a democratic setting where constitutional procedures which are sometimes frustrating must be followed and not decrees and at this time he needs corporation of every Nigerian to do it and we at the grassroot will always corporate with him when the head us good other body part will follow suit and that is the confidence we have in Buhari all we pray for now is the wisdom of Solomon.
You are the ALGON president if you are ask to advise the president what would you tell him that are the gene expectations from Nigerians
Our expectations from the incoming administration include: formulation of a transportation master-plan to solve the perennial transport difficulties experienced by Nigerians on a daily basis, Complete the railway projects embarked by this administration including the Abuja light-rail and the Abuja – Kaduna railway projects and more railways , expansion of the country’s highways, effective water supply, security, restoring the sanity of mass housing and affordable scheme he should produced a comprehensive Guideline for mass housing development in the country , water supply, affordable education and provision of scholarships to take care of the less privileged in the country, health I mean the expansion, rehabilitation, re-equipping and upgrading of existing general hospitals standards to international levels, attraction of investment so that under under a Public-Private-Partnership arrangement so many projects and programmes will be carried out and finally let our Baba empower the local government to improve its internal revenue generation.