David Alabi Kolade: ALGON’s new lease on life
“Water governance must be bottom up, starting and ending with local communities,” David Alabi Kolade, President of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) made this plea at the United Nations 2023 Water Conference in New York, USA.
The spokesperson for local governments in Nigeria is a wise actor who is determined to defend the interests of local elected officials at both national and international levels. Re-elected on July 24, 2021, at the head of ALGON, David Kolade has the responsibility to make a significant contribution to enable Nigeria to improve its ranking in terms of decentralization on the continent, specifically on the institutional environment.
In fact, despite a fairly advanced level of decentralization compared to other countries on the continent, Nigeria obtained an overall score of 26 out of 48 in the 2021 edition of the report on the institutional environment of cities and local authorities in Africa (CEE Rating), produced every three years by UCLG Africa and Cities Alliance. As a result, Nigeria is among the group of countries whose progress towards an enabling environment for cities and local governments would require major reform efforts.
The Chairman of Bariga Local Council (Lagos State), upon his re-election as the head of ALGON, pledged to double his efforts towards inclusive leadership and implementation of people-centered programs.
On April 26, 2023, David Kolade met with Nigeria’s newly elected president, H.E. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his vice president, Senator Kashim Shettima, in Abudja. This bodes well for future collaboration between the central and local governments.
In 2020, already under his leadership, he engaged ALGON in the process of involving local governments in negotiations with the European Union. In his foreword to the roadmap (2021-2027) produced with the technical assistance of UCLG Africa, David Kolade said, “Although Nigeria’s constitution, policies and laws recognize the role of local governments as public authorities for decentralized economic planning and delivery of essential services, national planning and development efforts have unfortunately been undertaken at the expense of local government involvement.”
For him, this has contributed significantly to the sustainable development challenges in the country. This goes against the reality and recognition by the donor community and development practitioners that the challenges of promoting sustainable development are best addressed and achieved at the local level. Thus national and global development goals, priorities and agencies should be people-centered, adopting a territorial approach, based on the principle of subsidiarity.
The roadmap aims to strengthen the capacity of ALGON and Local Governments in Nigeria to engage with and implement the next EU program (2021-2027) at the local level, especially because the thematic areas to be supported under the program are better implemented at the local level. This roadmap highlighted what can be done to strengthen the involvement of ALGON and Local Governments in national development and cooperation policy.
David Koladé is a lawyer and administrator by training. He is a sports enthusiast, former soccer player and swimmer.