King Edmund M. Daukoru, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom in Bayelsa State, has said local governments have become a drain on national resources instead of aiding development.
He said the level of neglect should be a serious concern since they are part of the budgeting process of the states.
Daukoru, a former Minister of State for Energy and one-time Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), spoke yesterday in Abuja at his 80th Birthday Lecture and Book Launch.
At the event, he announced plans to launch a gas turbine, integrated farming, fish culture, land reclamation and large-scale reticulated water system to further help in developing his kingdom.
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He said, “Nigeria has 774 LGA’s, which are recognised in the constitution, and are part of the budgeting process of the states. Their functionality and economic well-being are a prime responsibility of the states. But since the past two decades, if not three, they have become a drain on national resources instead of being development centres and the foundation of national economic production.
“Thus, after all is said and done, it is these empty shells of the economic dream of the mid-seventies that the kings in the present time have to oversee in some form or other. The burden on us varies according to the local circumstances.”
Daily Trust reports that the Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, Ahaji Sa’ad Mohammad Abubakar III, and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi-Ojaja II, were the royal fathers of the day.
The Sultan described him as “an upright and honest person who has gone round the world,” adding that: “We have come a long way. This gathering shows that traditional rulers in Nigeria are united. We are not politicians with differences.”
The Ooni urged traditional rulers to promote unity for the betterment of the country.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Magnus Kpakol, in his paper titled, “Imperative of Energy Security for Accelerated Rural Development: Special Case of the Niger Delta,” called for a deliberate effort of the government to develop the Niger Delta region.
Kpakol who was the chief economic adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo said about 600 million sub-saharan Africans lacked access to electricity.
To achieve rural electrification, he said the country must be intentional, purposeful and institutionalise human capital.