Nigeria : Local Government Autonomy, Tool For People To Exercise Powers, Ex Lawmakers

Map of Nigeria Showing Kaduna State

By Juliana Katung

Kaduna (Nigeria)–Local Government autonomy content in the proposed constitutional amendment has been identified as the most important tool of ensuring that power returns  to the people.

A former Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie said this when a team of ‘Friends of Democracy ‘ paid  an advocacy Visit to the Kaduna State House of Assembly northwest Nigeria over the ongoing 1999 constitutional amendment.

He said  the proposed amendment of making the local Government councils independent, is a welcome idea, noting that effectiveness and efficiency of it, would enable provision of social amenities to the people at grass root.

“The State and Federal Governments are currently performing the task that is meant for the local Government which is not part of Federalism ,” Osagie noted

He added that the constitution required that state should provide at least 10 percent of its internally generated Revenue  to the local government councils, and wondered how many states in Nigeria that are implementing it practically now.

Osagie said the issue of strengthening local government , is very important and  serious .

” If we must ensure that democratic  dividend  goes to the grass root  then you  should  not construe from the point of your position today as members.

“Your position would remain, the institution will remain, but what you will be remembered for, is your contribution to the deepening of democratic governance ” he said.

According to him, the friends of democracy want  the Assembly to support  the amendments and abolish local government joint account, so that the system of local government can be democratic

” Let local governments have their funds directly ,while you continue to maintain your oversight functions and State continues to exercise supervisory role over management of resources” Osagie added

He wondered  why elections are not always being conducted at  local Government level in most of the state’s in the country, but rather being managed  by  Care Taker committees appointed by the Governors.

The Ex-Reps Minority whip stressed the need for the Kaduna Assembly to critically look at the issue raised in the proposed amendments so as to be part of the process.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Abdullahi Bala  said the group  were at the Assembly to solicite for supports of  Kaduna State House of Assembly on the proposed amendments of the 1999 Constitution.

Bala , a former Senator representing Taraba North said the essence of their  visit was to interact with the members of the Assembly on the impending constitutional amendment exercise.

” Also to engage members of the Assembly on the need to sensitize the general public and to vigorously look at the proposed amendments with a view to passing it so that institutions of democracy can be strengthened “
“The  processes of governance can be enhanced so that service delivery and dividends of democracy can reach the teaming masses of Nigeria who regularly vote for elected leaders with the view  to improving their lives”,he said..

He called on the assembly to do the needful to ensure that the proposed amendments scale through, especially the issue of local government autonomy adding that  to defend democracy one  has to start from the basic foundation .

“All of you have constituencies and it has to start from local government administration which is the foundation on which we build the edifice of the federal structure” Bala noted.

According to him, if the law is  amended, the autonomy would enable local Government to execute meaningful programmes and projects as we’ll  as their welfare.

He stressed the need to ensure that democracy is strengthened ” we need to build those institutions that will ensure survival of democracy “

Bala noted that  issues raised in the proposed amendments are geared toward strengthening governance,  institutions and  accountability in the management of resources .

He noted that  local Government across the country are managed by care takers or sole administrators whereas section 7 of the the Nigeria constitution guarantees democratically elected local government.

According to him, the Federal Government has all its  institutions  running on democratic dispensation, so the state hence the need for the local government to be giving the oppoturnity.

On the electoral process, he said a number of recommendations have been made as well as the issue of  internal security .

He said the group were impressed with the  State of mind of the legislators in Kaduna state and are also very impressed with the strides achieved by  Nasiru El-Rufai Administration in trying to reposition kaduna State.

Responding, the Speaker Kaduna State House of Assembly, Aminu Shagali reiterated the commitment of the Assembly  to supporting the financial autonomy for local government.

The speaker who was represented by his Deputy, John Kwaturu said  the issue of constitution reforms, especially the area of the local government reforms,  Kaduna State was  already  at the top.

Immediately the Governor assumed office in 2015, he insisted  that they should  be given  their financial structure and autonomy.

On the 2018 budget, he said the state Assembly was expecting to receive the report from the committee by next week and hopefully to passed into Law, and subsequently send to the governor for assent before the year run out.

“In kaduna State Assembly, we are not concerned about our financial autonomy we are concerned about very important issue like local government autonomy, budgeting among others, when the bill comes to us, we will put heads together to see how we can give the best for the betterment of Nigeria.

“Strengthening local government is strengthening internal  democracy, because once local government is strengthened, it  will go along way”

“The Kaduna State House of  Assembly is presently working on a very good bills  on the structuring of local government and the State Independent Electoral Commission” which are at the Committee on judiciary”

He assured the team  that Kaduna would partner and continue to work in ensuring that Nigerians live to enjoy  dividends of democracy.

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Posted by on 25/11/2017. Filed under News, Rights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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