It is widely established that local governments, being closest to the people, are uniquely positioned to positively impact on the lives of citizens, especially those at the grassroots. Local governments are also supposed to facilitate a strong relationship between the governors and the governed and ensure grassroots development.
Sadly, recent developments in the national economy have severely restricted the capacity of councils to fulfil their statutory obligations. Today’s swearing-in of newly-appointed chairpersons of the Transition Implementation Committees (TICs) in each of the 16 Local Governments signals our resolve to reorganise this tier of government in the interest of the people.
It is perhaps appropriate to congratulate the newly sworn-in Chairpersons on their well-deserved appointments. Your performance in your previous positions has led to your selection.
But the truth is that you have been appointed at a time of great difficulty for local governments in Kwara State. The 16 sixteen local governments have varying degrees of salary and pension arrears. Most have been unable to implement infrastructure projects due to significant reduction in federal allocation and previous inefficiencies in revenue generation.
This cannot continue. I, therefore, expect you to treat the resolution of these problems as priority and approach it with the commensurate sense of urgency and commitment.
You must take advantage of the reduced recurrent expenditure offered by the TIC structure to clear the backlog of arrears in the shortest possible time. You must also prioritize low hanging infrastructure that will bring swift relief to the people.
In this regard, you are to avoid making unnecessary appointments, make prudence your watchword at all times, shun ostentation and avoid any conduct capable of calling your integrity into question.
My government stands ready to support you through this difficult process of rescuing our local governments with the necessary resources and guidance in this admittedly challenging journey.
As you are aware, the Kwara State Committee on Personnel Database Development, of which I am chairman, is expected to submit its report soon.
I am optimistic that once its report is received and implemented, monthly recurrent expenditure in each of the sixteen local government as well as the state level will be reduced, thus freeing up more revenue for your operations.
Following the need to shore up revenue generation, local governments’ partnership with the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) has led to an increase in Internally Generated Revenue.
You are to key into this by strengthening synergy with KWIRS to generate more revenue in order to meet more of your obligations, especially the prompt payment of salaries.
I am aware that several groups and individuals, especially those in the informal sector, are yet to conform with our revenue reforms by paying taxes.
Let me make this very clear. Just as the welfare of citizens is obligatory on government, the payment of taxes is compulsory for all eligible individuals and businesses. You cannot expect to benefit from services provided by government from taxes, yet refuse to contribute by paying your tax.
Government at state and local government levels will, therefore, not hesitate to invoke the law to punish those found guilty of tax avoidance or evasion.
As you assume your new positions, remember you have been called to serve. I entreat you to shun corruption, divisive politics and put the interest of the people first at all times.
Times are tough but they also present an opportunity. Most people understand the crises we face and the need to implement reforms in order overcome the challenges.
You must therefore take the opportunity you have been offered by ensuring inclusion as you take the tough decisions necessary to navigate local governments out of their peculiar challenges.
At this point, I thank the outgone local government chairmen for their service to the government and people of Kwara State and wish them success in their future endeavors.
Once again, I congratulate the new chairpersons on their new appointment and wish them all the best in this difficult assignment.
Thank you and God Bless.
Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed
The Executive Governor
15th November, 2016