The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) on Saturday called for more development at the local government level to encourage mass participation in democracy.
The Chairman of CLO in Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, gave the task while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu.
Ezekwueme decried what he described as the dwindling visibility of local government area governance and authority within the national polity.
He decried the failure of some state governments to promptly conduct local government elections calling for appropriate sanctions.
He said “We must ensure that appropriate sanctions are meted against states that failed to conduct local government elections.
“But, I am vehemently opposed school of thought saying that funds meant for states that refuses to conduct local government elections should be seized pending when they will conduct election then the money will be released.
“It is interesting to note that funds allocated to provide basic necessities for inhabitants of such areas will suffer most if local government funds are withheld.
“I am of the opinion that rather any state government that fails to conduct local government elections at the expiration of tenures of elected officials after three months elapsed, INEC should be mandated to conduct such elections.
“This is to preserve democratic norms, ethics and principles at the local government level.
“If the president should arrogate himself the power to appoint caretaker committees for states, which the governors are doing to the councils, there will be no democratic governance at majority of the states.’’
Ezekwueme, therefore, appealed to politicians and entire residents to help protect, project and enthrone democracy at the grassroots level.
“Presently, our nonchalant attitude concerning the council affair has exacerbated impunity, corruption, misappropriation of public funds, human right abuses, poverty in the midst of plenty and unemployment at local level.
“We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice; not in love with publicity but in love with humanity both at the local, state and federal government levels,’’ he said. (NAN)