The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has warned newly elected local government chairmen not to discriminate against anybody on the bases of tribe, religion or political differences.
Speaking during the swearing-in ceremony of the chairmen on Tuesday in Kaduna, the governor urged them to see themselves as custodians of a sacred trust and render service to the people.
“From whatever party you have emerged, you are today assuming a sacred mandate to do right by all our people, in accordance with the laws of the land and the oaths you have freely sworn. Please let service to our people be your priority,” he said.
He further charged them to see their election as an act of God, as God chooses who to give power to.
The governor said: “God has chosen you to be the leader of all citizens in your local government areas without regard to their political, ethnic or religious persuasion.
“You are, from today, custodians of a sacred trust. You must therefore be fair, just and reasonable in all your dealings, decisions and interactions. You must not discriminate against those that did not vote for you.
“Neither should you favour those with whom you share the same ethnicity or religion as that will offend your oath of office. May God give us all the grace to do justice to all according to law.”
According to him, since 2015, his administration has spent considerable time and efforts to reform the local government system so that it can deliver public service at the grassroots.
According to him, “When we came into office, we inherited a local government system that was doing little more than paying its own employees. At least eight of these local governments could not even pay their staff salaries without assistance from the state government.
“These troubled local governments had been sustained by a perverse and unfair system that took money from solvent local governments to pay the staff.
“Rather than inquire into the causes of the financial difficulties of the affected local governments and taking remedial steps to address them, the previous government chose to penalise those without financial problems.”
He said that many of the local governments were not only overstaffed, but they also lacked the right quality of personnel to enable them deliver decent services at the local level.
El-Rufai said careful steps had been taken to reform the local government system for performance and service delivery.
“This government has addressed the capacity deficit by directing the recruitment of professionals, including lawyers, engineers and architects for the local government service.
“Clear establishments have been prescribed and implemented for each LGA to ensure that they have just the optimal number of personnel. And we have restored every local government to solvency,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Local Government Affairs will organise a retreat to fully acquaint the council chairmen with the new system of local government.
According to him, the retreat will explain the vital roles council chairmen are expected to play in ensuring coordinated development across the state, using the local government development plan.