Governors Have ‘Killed’ Local Government System – Senate

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The Senate has accused the governors in the 36 states of the federation of killing local government administration through lack of autonomy for the government at the grassroots.

Consequently, the Senate said it would ensure that the constitution and the Electoral Act amendments provide for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections at the local government level.

The Upper Chamber which is worried that the councils in Nigeria which symbolise the third tier of government are dead as a result of the actions and inactions of the governors.

The non-functionality of the 774 councils in the country was further attributed to usurpation of their functions and financial starvation slammed on them by many of the state governors through the abuse of the joint account between them and the state government as contained in section 7 of the 1999 Constitution.

The Red Chamber called on President Bola Tinubu to collaborate with the National Assembly (NASS) and other relevant stakeholders for the resuscitation of the councils.

These were the fallouts from a motion sponsored by Senator Suleiman Kawu (NNPP Kano South) on the urgent need for Tinubu to resuscitate the local government system in Nigeria.

Kawu in his lead debate on the motion, lamented “that in the tapestry of Nigeria’s governance system, local governments are meant to be threads weaving development at the grassroots.

He said, “Envisioned as the closest tier of administration to the people, they hold the potential to address local needs directly and shape communities from the inside out. But the story of Nigeria’s local government system is one of promise and paradox, woven with threads of hope and frustration.”

He went the historical route by saying “the journey began in 1976 with a local government reform, aiming to decentralize power and empower communities.

“Envisioned as self-governing entities with elected officials, local governments handled critical aspects of community life – primary education, healthcare, sanitation, local infrastructure and community security.

“It was a dream of grassroots democracy, where decisions were made closer to the people they impacted”.

However, according to him, the dream of achieving the objectives of the local government system encountered harsh realities.

During contributions from senators across party lines to the debate, it was lamentation galore from them that the local government system has been crippled by the governors and thus , the need for constitution amendment to give it autonomy, administratively and financially.

The deputy Senate President Jibrin Barau who presided over the session said “the local government system is dead in Nigeria and can only be resuscitated through far-reaching constitution amendments which should guarantee their administrative and financial autonomy as well as making INEC, their electoral umpire.”

Anambra State where caretaker committees have been in saddle for 18 years was cited as an example as alleged by Senator Ifeanyi Uba (APC Anambra South).

 

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