The Ministry of Local Government, last week, launched a new capacity building initiative, dubbed, "Local Government Institute', designed to improve service delivery at the grassroots level.
The training, which specifically targets grassroots leaders, will help equip the trainees with skills in good governance, quality service delivery and public finance management.
The importance of the course cannot be overemphasised considering the critical role of the grassroots structures in the country's development process.
Generally, local government services have improved over the years, but there is still need for improvement.
The course comes at a time when the leaders are facing criticism for imposing unauthorised fees for services sought
Some residents have complained about local leaders frustrating them when they go to seek services they are entitled to because, for instance, if they had not paid up their public health insurance premiums, or had not contributed to the construction of a community school.
While local leaders have a responsibility to encourage residents to actively get involved with development programmes, it should not come at the expense of the latter's legitimate rights.
Furthermore, there should be a clear distinction between citizens' obligations such as paying taxes, taking their children to schools and acquiring a health insurance cover on the one hand, and voluntary contributions to good causes like community infrastructure development on the other.
In both cases, however, citizens should not be deprived of their legitimate rights simply because they have not supposedly cooperated with the local authorities. The latter should do their job without violating other rights.
It is our hope that the new course will result in quality and faster service delivery at the grassroots.