As Nigeria continues to battle with COVID-19, it is pertinent to take a closer look at the responses from the Federal, State and importantly, the Local Governments. Whilst the responses from the Federal and most State authorities have been in plainsight, rolling out measures to minimize the impact of the virus, one would like to ascertain the position of the Local Government Administration.
Local Governments as key pillars and strategic institutions of the polity play significant roles.
Their proximity to the grassroots make them premium and viable in providing essential services, down to the communities they oversee.
However, in responding to the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria, there has rather been a more centralised approach, leaving the Local Governments to exercise little or no function as revealed in an online survey conducted in May, 2020.
One cannot underestimate the instrumental role the Local Government Administration can collaboratively play at this point in time as a result of the closeness to the grassroots.
Whilst the Federal and State authorities continue to intensify efforts, some important roles the Local Government Administration should play and champion include:
1. Mass Enlightenment and Awareness - The Local Governments should take on the responsibility of enlightening residents and groups, particularly those who may not be exposed to the measures and necessary information needed to contain the spread of the virus.
2. Coordinate the Distribution of Relief Items to Vulnerable Communities - With the combined efforts of the Federal and State authorities and to cushion the effect of the economic impact of Covid-19, the Local Government Administration should take on the duty of ensuring inclusiveness in relief items, especially to those most affected as a centralised approach may not be effective.
3. Providing relevant data and reliable information to the communities on misleading information bordering on the use of non-prescribed medications as preventive measures against the virus.
4. Strengthening efforts in providing facts and reliable data to institutions at the forefront of the pandemic.
This therefore, calls for reinstituting the defective Local Government administration in the fight against COVID-19.
A more decentralised approach that puts into picture all levels of government, working in synergy is undeniably needed at this critical time.