Dr Mandu Ekpenyong, National President, National Association of Heads of Local Government Administration of Nigeria (NAHOLGAN)



It gives me great pleasure to speak to you this morning, and welcome you most cordially to the official opening of the maiden Conference of National Association of Heads of Local Government Administration of Nigeria (NAHOLGAN). Permit me to appreciate my members who found me worthy of leading them. I cannot misuse this privilege but rather would create a mark that will sustain and strengthen this Association in the years ahead.

On assumption of office as the National President, the emergence of Covid- 19 pandemic delayed the unveiling of programmes we conceived as pioneer executives. This event is therefore the culmination of an enormous collective effort which began in July, 2019 when Professor Akin Oshuntogun of National Institute of Engineering Management of Nigeria, an Erudite Consultant brought Heads of Local Government Administration in Nigeria together in a workshop on acquiring skills in public policy and analysis for effective local government administration. During the workshop he introduced the need for Local Government Administrators to come together and help in sanitizing local government administration in Nigeria. That conference gave birth to NAHOLGAN.

After the birth of NAHOLGAN and formation of National Executive Council, several meetings were held and 774 Heads of Local Government Administration in Nigeria mobilized. This led to the decision of hosting the maiden conference in Akwa Ibom State with certain factors considered one of which is the fact that Akwa Ibom State is arguably the most peaceful State in Nigeria taking cognizance of the state of insecurity in the Nation. May I use this opportunity to. express my appreciation to His Excellency, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel for permitting the hosting of this conference in Akwa Ibom State. My gratitude also goes to the Hon. Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Dr. George Akume; Head of Civil service, Elder Effiong Essien; Hon. Frank Archibong, commissioner Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Chairman,Akwa Ibom State Local Government Service Commission and other Commissioners; Chairman of ALGON, Akwa Ibom State and Chairmen of Local Government Councils; Keynote Presenter, Resource Persons, Local Organizing Committee, Members of our great Association, Stakeholders in the State and Local Government and Guests.

In recent times there is concern about revitalization of the local government system as well as the effectiveness of local government administration in Nigeria, and this calls for commitment of Stakeholders, which is already being exemplified in the action of the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs in collaboration with other Agencies to supervise and monitor programmes and projects in the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. Akwa Ibom State Government is not left out. Governor Emmanuel led administration has demonstrated concern for grassroot development in the areas of industrialization and agriculture, through the provision of good roads, the building of industries such as coconut refinery in Onna local government Area, support to Farmers through the giving of grants, fertilizer and seedlings and most especially providing a secure environment for development to thrive.
To further engage in the development of the Local Government System and maintain an effective local government administration in Nigeria to measure up with what is obtained in the developed countries, this Association (NAHOLGAN) decided to come together with the aim of looking into the challenges facing local government administration in Nigeria with respect to constitutional provision in the area of autonomy as enshrined in the constitution, as well as issue of uniformity in nomenclature of Administrators in the Local Government system, hence the theme of this conference ‚ÄúProfessionalism: Future of Local Government Administration in Nigeria‚ÄĚ

Though, it was not an easy task to reach out to our colleagues across the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, through much effort and contacts we are here today to witness the maiden gathering of this great Association. This Conference will give our members opportunity to shear ideas and have a holistic review of issues affecting local government administration and actors within the system as well as developing strategy of overcoming existing challenges within the system. It is a time to take stock of our activities for the past two years and discuss matters that strengthen the understanding of our role as Administrators in the local government sector of Nigeria. As an Association, a key part of our responsibility is to be fully involved as an integral part of local government administration activities and ensure that programs and projects are implemented with total adherence to due process with resilience and sustainability thinking. There is no denying that we are in an uncertain time. Many things have changed, salaries owed or not paid on time, workers retrenched, no motivation, infrastructural decay, pension and gratuity not paid and other political issues. As we emerge out of the pandemic, it is imperative we re-focus our searchlight and learn innovative strategies to strengthen our local government to help us survive in the post-covid-19 economy.

On behalf of the Executives and Members of the Association I call for support of Government at all levels to give us the necessary support for effective partnership in the development of the Local Government System viz; Inclusion in policy making in the area of review of the Scheme of Service, establishment of National Secretariat, Provision of Logistic Vehicle to the National Secretariat as well as State Secretariat. I know that My Governor (Mr. Industrialization) will demonstrate in his usual way a support to the National body, knowing that the Pioneer President is his own daughter.

A lot of critical thinking and expertise went down the line to enable the Planning Committee to bring up the Conference theme; and I am glad and proud of the depth of knowledge and exposure of the resource persons who have been invited to share ideas with us in this epoch gathering. It is, therefore, my pleasure to welcome our Keynote presenter Prof. John Alabi, Ph.D, D.ESB, FNIM, FCENT, FCAI, FHCA, CAN, Dean Faculty of Management Sciences, Kogi State University, Anyigba. Permit me also to welcome all the distinguished Administrators and Resource Persons of impeccable quality who have been selected to guide us in idea-focused technical sessions and to facilitate discussion during plenary sessions.
I believe deep down in my heart that we are going to have a great time together. We are going to update our knowledge today and at the end of this conference, we would come up with a communique that will be an aggregate of our collective views on an integrated approach to improving the Local Government System and infrastructural development.

I welcome you all to Akwa Abasi Ibom State, the land of promise

Thank you and God bless.