Senate Urges President Bola Tinubu To Convene National Dialogue On Local Government Autonomy | MarvelTvUpdates

The Senate on Wednesday asked President Bola Tinubu to convene a national dialogue to deliberate on full autonomy for local governments in the country.

It said the dialogue should involve the governors, state legislators, local government officials, civil society organisations, community leaders and others.

The resolution was a sequel to a motion sponsored by Kawu Sumaila (NNPP, Kano South) during the plenary.

Mr Sumaila, while presenting the motion, lamented the neglect of the local government system in many parts of the country.

He accused state governors of attempting to frustrate the establishment the autonomy of the local governments.

“Some governors play a crucial role in frustrating local government autonomy in Nigeria via constitutional alteration processes and with limited financial and operational autonomy, local governments might struggle to effectively address local security concerns like community policing initiatives, intelligence gathering, and infrastructure maintenance.

“Local governments, once major employers, are financially constrained and unable to hire the necessary staff. 

This surge in unemployment creates a pool of vulnerable individuals susceptible to criminal recruitment, further exacerbating the nation’s security issues.”

Mr Sumaila therefore prayed the Senate to call on President Tinubu to be at the forefront of encouraging state governors to ensure local government autonomy in their respective states.

He also requested the Senate to urge Mr Tinubu to use his leadership and influence to persuade the federating units and all critical stakeholders in the constitutional alteration processes and administrative bottlenecks to embrace the vision of full local government autonomy.

The senator asked the upper chamber to ensure that federal agencies fully comply with existing legal provisions that empower local governments, ensuring timely release of allocated funds directly to their bank accounts and streamlining administrative processes.

He demanded a unified electoral system and tenure of office of the chairmen and councilors of the local governments in Nigeria.

Mr Sumaila also urged the Senate to encourage President Tinubu to stop allocation of funds to caretaker committee-led local government areas in the country.

Contributions

Majority of the senators who contributed to the motion supported the prayers.

Ifeanyi Uba (APC, Anambra South) said there had not been a local government election in Anambra state for over 18 years.

Mr Uba urged the Senate to consider and adopt prayers of motion.

Orji Kalu (APC, Abia North) also supported the motion.

Mr Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, recalled how councillors were awarding contracts and developing the state when LG autonomy was still active in his state.

“Even councillors were awarding contracts. So the money was there and they were doing very, very well. Some local governments were very rich because they were having Internally Generated Revenue. Why did that happen?

“First of all, all of you have forgotten. Who conducted that local government election that brought those people to power? It was INEC, it was not the state electoral commissions. So people went on their own, elected the chairmen, they were not errand boys and they won their elections. These are people who had credibility and knew what they were doing. That is why we had that scenario, being the way it was.

“But lwhat happens later? The elections are now conducted by the state electoral commissions. There were no elections, you all know. Elections are just done on what they call elections. So what do we expect from those people?

“After the grant has been given to local governments, they will give them blank signed cheques and the money will be removed in line with the whims and caprices of the state governors. We all know this.

“Even councillors were awarding contracts. So the money was there and they were doing very, very well. Some local governments were very rich because they were having Internally Generated Revenue. Why did that happen?

“First of all, all of you have forgotten. Who conducted that local government election that brought those people to power? It was INEC, it was not the state electoral commissions. 

So people went on their own, elected the chairmen, they were not errand boys and they won their elections. These are people who had credibility and knew what they were doing. That is why we had that scenario, being the way it was.

“But lwhat happens later? The elections are now conducted by the state electoral commissions. There were no elections, you all know. Elections are just done on what they call elections. So what do we expect from those people?

“After the grant has been given to local governments, they will give them blank signed cheques and the money will be removed in line with the whims and caprices of the state governors. We all know this.

“You will see paperwork, you will see everything has been done properly,. That is just what could be seen on a mere paper, but the real thing is done in line with the whims and caprices of the state governors. 

So, there are chains of actions to be taken, and it is not only for us to vote for the autonomy of local governments. We must vote for a body different from the body that will be controlled by state governments to conduct local government elections otherwise, forget it.

“You must return local government elections to INEC. Or if you are not using INEC, create a body independent of the state governors. If you do not follow the chain of actions and you say you want to have autonomy even with this proposal we are having, we will not get it right.

“So, we have to concentrate on two things: the mode of election. Those who will conduct the polls have an independent body to conduct the elections and then go for amending the constitution to allow for the local government autonomy,” he said.

After contributions of the lawmakers, the Deputy Senate President, Barau Jibrin, who presided over the session, in his remarks, said some governors divide funds allocated to finance local governments thereby committing fraud.

“The local government system is dead. Their monies are being illegally appropriated by the governors. They will tell you, go and write a request, we want to do this. They write a request purporting to be theirs, and the money will be splitted by the governors. This is what we see everyday.

“Well, let me not generalise. Some governors, of course, are nice. They don’t do that, but some do that. But there are some good governors out there” Mr Jibrin said.

He thereafter put he motion to vote and majority of the senators voted in support of it.

The deputy senate president then directed the Clerk of the Senate, Chinedu Akubueze, to communicate the resolution to the appropriate authorities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *