LG autonomy: Lawmakers battle govs…Lobby NLC, NULGE over Constitution review

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From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja

Governors and federal lawmakers are set for battle over moves by the National Assembly to grant financial autonomy to the 774 local governments. The National Assembly has listed as one of its main agenda, an amendment of section 162 (6) of the 1999 Constitution which will finally free the councils from the joint account system where their funds are being remitted into, but which is operated by governors.

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State had earlier said his colleagues would resist attempts by the National Assembly to grant autonomy to local governments because they are not federating units. He declared the moves by the National Assembly as illegal. Already, some Senators have taken the battle to the doorsteps of the governors with a lobby of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the umbrella body of local governments, the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE). Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and a former national president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Smart Adeyemi, disclosed this in Abuja at the weekend.

He said governors manipulate the joint account operated by states and local governments and cited instances where, at least, three former and serving state commissioners have been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged fraudulent diversion of local government funds. Adeyemi said some local government chairmen have disclosed how they were made to sign for far less than was due them from the Federation Account. He cited a local government chairman who told him how he was made to sign for N40 million when the council was actually allocated N155 million from Abuja. Also speaking at the weekend, Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso said his colleagues had to intervene when council chairmen criminally divert funds meant for development of their areas.

He backed Amaechi on the two-tier system of government and warned the National Assembly not to introduce an illegality into the Constitution. However, Adeyemi insisted that the lawmakers are determined to lobby stakeholders to ensure financial autonomy for local governments by abrogating the joint account system enshrined in the Constitution. His words: “Governor Amaechi is the best governor based on what he has done in Rivers State and indeed, in his response that every month, about N2billion is given to local governments. He is intelligent and articulate, but good as those qualities are, we are equally not short of those qualities in the National Assembly.

“Unfortunately, Rivers State is not Nigeria. What he is doing in Rivers State, I wish others are doing that. If they are adding more money to the allocation of local governments, we will have no business discussing that, but as Chairman of Governors’ Forum, I hope he goes round to see what is happening in other states. Democracy is not about arrogance, but about people discussing and coming up with superior arguments. “The Chairman of the Governors’ Forum should ask his colleagues if they are doing what he is doing, if not, then, there is reason for us to be concerned. Perhaps, the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum is unaware that at least, three commissioners are standing trial for alleged diversion of local government funds.

“That alone, is a breach of the Constitution…I dare say that states doing this have endorsement of the forum; in fact, some states have, in the last two, three and four years refused to conduct elections… “I read an interview where he said that the Governors’ Forum will not allow the three tiers of government to be so entrenched in the Constitution, but let their Excellences know that it pays them to allow the three tiers of government to survive, else, they will not sleep with their two eyes closed and their old age would be disturbed. “In the course of the interview, his Excellency did say that there is nowhere in the world where in federal system of government, councils are on their own.

“We say to him that the federal system of government of our nation slightly differs from what we have in other nations of the world because of our diversity as a people. Yes, we are one Nigeria but nobody wants to have his tribe oppressed or relegated as second class citizen in your own state. “There was a case of a local government chairman who told me that he was actually supposed to collect N155 million for that month, but he received N40 million; yet, he signed that he received N155 million and I want the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum to hear this.” “If we speak from this end, we do not speak on the basis of any local environment; we speak from the collective contributions coming across the country and that is the difference between the man who is in Abuja and the man who is not in Abuja.

We look at issues from the national point of view, they look at issues, perhaps from their own states. I can appreciate what the chairman of the Governors’ Forum is saying.” “But His Excellency, Governor Amaechi should know that what you are doing, your colleagues are not doing that and that explains why we have people living below the poverty line. “Let me tell you, in my state, in my senatorial district, there are areas in Kogi State where people still use tankers to fetch water, because there is no money provided for the local government. I then asked, where is your allocation? They tell me they collect it from them in the state. When the allocations due local governments come, they are stuck in the states. “Let the governors know that we will do everything humanly possible.

I speak not only as a Senator; I speak as a journalist and as a former labour leader, that it will be inexplicable in years to come for anybody to scrap the third tier system of government in Nigeria. We will mobilise other stakeholders against entrenchment of two tiers of government in Nigeria. It’s not a progressive move for the country. We will mobilise NULGE and NLC; that they should not just fold their arms and allow this illegality to continue. “I would rather support devolution of power should go to the local governments rather than the states. We should rather scrap the states because most of them are not even viable. Corroborating Adeyemi, Vice chairman of the Trade and Investment Committee, Senator Ibrahim Musa, dismissed Amaechi’s opposition to financial autonomy for local governments, adding that section 7 of the Constitution already recognizes local governments as a tier of government.

Musa noted that governors are hiding under 162 section (6) to embezzle local government funds. “Governor Amaechi has said that local governments cannot be federating units? That is his own view; his personal opinion. Everybody has the right to express his own view and he has just done that. Local governments are recognized in the Constitution. Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution has already taken care of that. “Section 162 (6) is specific about local governments.

The problem between the local governments and the governors is rooted in section 162, sub section 6 which talks about their joint account. That is where the governors are hiding. “The National Assembly wants to amend that section, give them autonomy so that local governments can get their money directly from the source. If we do that, state governors would stop talking of stopping autonomy for local governments. “Once we can solve that problem, the local governments will perform. Please, let the governor know that local governments have been in existence before the coming into existence of the states so why are they telling us that?” Defending his colleagues, Kwankwaso wondered why the National Assembly should be concerned about autonomy of local governments when “they are not complaining.

“The opening balance of each of local government in this state is an average of over a N500million for 2013. Before we came, local governments were not paying salaries, they were just sharing the money. Now for you to say we should send money directly to the local government in Kano is to destroy what we have already built with the local governments in the state. And who said local governments are complaining?”, he queried

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27 Comments

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  2. A total autonomy of the L G As is long overdue. The governors forum is not a constitional body and should in no way obstruct the working of the National Assembly, they represent the people. In this the N A will make a big point constitionaly.

  3. In democracy peoples are drived by politics that brings development not politics that frustrated people and destroyed development. The local goverment councils required long term statutary economy planning based on the economy potentials of each area council before financial autonomy. Most of the 774 local goverment council are located in rural areas that has economy potentials than those situated in urban areas. The unconstitutional governors chairman, Rotimi amaechi should know that the governors are not Dictators, military or emperor by playing politics that frustrates development, they should also know that if the local goverment is given financial autonomy the achievement of the council chairman will be the glory of the party so developmental project will come from fedral, state and local goverment which will be the proud of a political party, but the governors are selfish by pursuing self glory and envy the democratic position of local goverment because there is possibilities for some local goverment to recieve more allocation than governor and it will create developmental competition which is good for people than the politics of KILL or DESTROYED affair in these regards some governors will reduce their wastefull expenditure with very little cabinent, portfolio and contract inflation, most of the local goverment will embarck on long-term capital project commercial agriculture, tractorization, alternative to inorganic fertalizer and construction project that will stoped or minimize the bureaucratic system of local goverment to productive system.

  4. Autonomy for local govt will make people know that democracy has come to stay. Local govt can no longer dig wells to atleast reduce hardship for the rural populace because of lack funds. Imagine a local govt chairman signing N155m to collect just N40m, what a shameless democracy(democrazy).

  5. Autonomy for LGAs would curb the tyranny and brutality of most governors, the NA shld go on and amend the constitution to that effect.

  6. Austin Udowelle on

    It makes me want to throw up when ever this financial autonomy for local councils is mentioned. All those pushing for this financial autonomy are crooks, corrupt to the marrow. What are they fighting for ? Money to embezzle. From experience local councils are the worst tier of government in Nigeria. They do nothing with their monthly allocations other than share them and wait for the next month. In my state (Anambra) every town can now boast of one local road properly tarred because of the judicious use of the local council ‘s money by the governor. It was never like that before. These hawks want us to go back to square one. Am suggesting that local councils be scrapped to reduce corruption.

    • Oddwell or what ever is your stupid name you are a type of undesirable element that boko-haram need to eliminate for you are of no use to the people of this nation!! how dare you open your rotten mind to opposed the popular will of the people. may thunder fire your useless head!!!

  7. Gov kwankaso,if those who you ate and enjoy their money complains, what will their cry makes,pls govs let the law-makers do their jobs,you people will not do the job of the executives and also the job of others,as you people have taken over the the job of the local councils !

  8. Gov kwankaso,if those who you ate and enjoy their money complains, what difference will their cry makes,pls govs let the law-makers do their jobs,you people will not do the job of the executives and also the job of others,as you people have taken over the the job of the local councils !

  9. Over the yrs state Gov have had a total control over LG but yet nothing has been achieve rather the masses are suffering due to bad roads nd lack of other social amenities.S. Govnors are total bunch of criminals and thereby do not have the moral right to question the integrity of Local Chairmen.I strongly support total autonomy for the Local Goverment bcos this is only Government that
    Is closer to the people and also bear their pain

  10. Anthony I Efobi on

    Austin is just bcos u got Peter Obi in Awka. Wait for him to go, so that u will understand the elementary intendment of notion of government. In government as a subject or in politics as a course, we studied that. There are three tiers of govt and not two. How 36 Governors be denying the Nigerian populace their constitutional freedom of thought and conscience? Can the Governors agree for the state govt to be unautonomous and financially subject of the federal unity account? Off course, no! Financial greed is Nigerian problem. All this negation from Governors Forum is just for them to remain the financial controller, over-Lord, most powerful. Is greed and too bad. Where is the division of labour? Corruption is what Nigeria was rooted on.

  11. how can a sreving governor made somebody to sign that he collected 155m,instead of only 40m that was given to him,only that is enough for LOCAL GOVT COUNCIL to have their own autonomy,is too much and long over due.that is more reason why there is no grass root development in our society,little and smaller contracts that suppose to be carried out by LGS,they will not see their allocation to do it,and the Governor will be claiming that he is doing well,doing well my footh,why not work with only the money allocated to the state alone, so that we can see and watch you well.short and simple,state Govs are using non autonomy for LGAs to have more political power over them and control their total affairs….it shouldnt be like that.

  12. Local governmentb must have their autonomy now or never.Wht do some stupid people like Amechi never see what is good in local government autonomy?Just because that is where most of them steal the money they staerch abroad..Can somebody go round to all the local governments in Nigeria and see how poor it is and normal development stauled.Why do people just come up anything and want to do what is completely outside the holy constitution?National Assembly,if you guys fail here then posterity will deal with everyone of you.Local government are the third tier of our government and it is not negotiable whatsoever.Up hold the constitution GEJ.Here nobody will hear your opinion even as the president of the republic because you do not want to step on foolish toes in your personal interest for 2015.Speak up as the president Jonathan.

  13. If the governors do not have hidden agenda, what is wrong with the Federal allocation going straignt to the local governments, while the State governments, through the necessary ministries or agencies provide oversight for proper utilsation? The problem is that all of them are corrupt from councillors to the President do not mean well first to the people they were elected to serve, but their personal interests and those of their acolytes. Ask the senator himself, how many boreholes he sunk in his constituency with his constiency vote. A senator pockets hundreds of millions of consituency vote and does nothing. The House member collects his statutory constituency vote and does nothing. Yet all these are supposed to be used to provide multifaceted development at the same time – the Senators perform theirs, the house members do theirs, the State governments are at work, the chairmen of LGs are working. Again, until we begin to address issues, polticians would continue to take Nigerians for a ride. Nigerians should mobilize against their non delivering representatives. There should be a MOVEMENT FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE. Let’s begin online. Soon we would be strong enough to challenge issues legally and get results for our people. Nevetheless, NIGERIANS SHOULD SUPPORT THE LEGISLATION FOR DIRECT FUNDING OF THE LOCAL GOVERMENTS while the federal structure lasts.

  14. Kalu J. Okafor on

    It is a big shame that empty heads, criminals and cultists called governors in Nigeria want democracy dismantled in this country. They swore to defend the constitution which created and empowered local governments in Nigeria. Is it not an impeachment offence to go against the constitution which useless governors swore to defend? The National assembly, must, if they are real representatives of the people, amend the constitution to remove any clause/s that enslaves local governments to corrupt governors. This move will force governors to sit up as their development projects in local governments will earn them the support of LGAs or make re-election difficult for them. That is the real fear of the governors. Now, they bully local government chairmen to abeyance and, therefore, no real opposition to their corruption.

  15. NA, go ahead in d amendment. Let se d local chair dt wil nt devlp his area. State asemblies in conectn wit EFCC should strictly monitor funds disbursed to local councel.

  16. Austin udo welle in as much as i agree wid you, I’ll like you to stop exaggerating about roads in anambra state. Cos am from anambra too. My own town has not smelled anything like tarred road. Some towns in anambra are yet to experience benefits from these Lga allocation

  17. Financial autonomy should be granted to the local governments if the federal government still creates local governments but such will not be feasible if States are allowed to create more local governments.
    My own stake in all of this, is for Smart Adeyemi and his co senators to ensure true federalism in Nigeria in that case the federating states will control their resources and pay taxes to the federal government while they will create more local governments to make sure developments get to the masses especially in the rural areas.
    The creation of local governments by federal government was not done on equity and justice because some states in the North have far more local governments than some of the States in Southern Nigeria.
    My local government of Ifo in Ogun state is so big in both size and population that no amount of money given to it from federal allocation will be enough to bring meaningful development to all areas of the local govt without the support of the state government, so before autonomy is granted such large local government must be divided into at least three local governments.

  18. If the National Assembly can do this. it will be great. 90% of the LG’S in Nigeria are under- developed. nothing to show especially in Abia State where LG Chairmen are forced to sign and collect less than what is meant for the LG.

    The Governors are too greedy. Let them go to hell.

    The National assembly should also scrap the State electoral commission as this is not good for our democracy.
    If the Governors still appoint care taker committee for LG’S then the autonomy is useless.

  19. jesusb4paradise on

    ANY GOVERNOR OPPOSING FINANCIAL AUTONOMY FOR THE LOCAL GOVT SHOULD BE MADE TO FORFEIT HIS OWN FINANCIAL AUTONOMY TO THE FED. GOVT. WE MUST DO UNTO OTHERS WHAT WE WOULD LOVE DONE ON TO US IF WE WERE IN THEIR POSITION. WE KNOW VERY WELL THAT THE GOVERNORS HAVE CRIPPLED THE LOCAL GOVT THROUGH FINANCIAL STARVATION. ENOUGH OF THAT.

  20. there is no time that is late in taking the right step.
    the constitution should be amended and empower the councillors to deal with any council boss involved in corrupt practices.

  21. let all the state Governors that have not conducted their council election do because what we are practicing in Nigeria is fully three tier of Government and they should know that we’re also practicing DEMOCRACY which is Government of the people by the people and for the people. like Governor of ANAMBRA, KANO, ABIA and others. THANKS’ Concern citizen Representing his good people.

  22. Governor Rotimi Amaechi is wrong about the fereating units. If his assertion that the lga’s are not part of the federating units, what is the state made of? How come the 1999 constitution mentions 774 LGA’s? Where are the traditional chiefs from and why are such titles like the Emir or Obi or Oba important and part of the Nigerian culture? Mr Amaechi and his cohort governors are about truncating history and culture.
    Let me say that Senator Smart Adeyemi is perfectly right. He should conduct a government class called Nigerian Constitution 101 for the 36 state governors. Sometime ago, they wanted to go to Havard in USA for class in governance. They should allow Senator Adeyemi to conduct this class for them. Knowing fully well what the Nigerian political psych is, it would be right to change the constitution or embolden it to fully recognise the LGA, its authority and responsibility. The state governors could still be responsible for the proper funning and functionality of the LGA. Terminal audits and checks should be impletmemented to check the abuses and corruption in the system. Presently, the LGA’s chairmen are thieves and all they do is use monies meant for improvement in building hotels all around the cities. This can be stopped.

    The Local Government Areas would be easy to manage because the people in them will be able to muster enough courage and political will to run the non performing chairmen and functionaries out of town, more than they could do with governors. In this kind of arrangement, the state governor will still remain the chief law officer of the state. The check and balances between the state and LGA apparatuses could be strenghtened through the Federal mechanism. As it is now, the governors and the local government chairpersons all want to control the monies, just the monies and not the responsibilities. This climate is very obnoxious, but this is Nigeria. In advanced countrioes, there are city and county governments still operating within state governments. You have mayors and county supervisors and managers who fashion developmental projects and implement them. The federal government in Whashington provides the mechanism, and added to the subventions fropm the state, the counties and city governments operate near efficiently. County governments even control such things like education, water and sewage. The state and governor has no hand in these items. Why can’t such be true in Nigeria? For the Kano State governor to be in cophort with Rotimi Amaechi and other silent governors is reprehensible. Imagine in Imo state where you have about 17 LGA’s the stealing of N115 milliion amounts to N1,955,000,000. Then multipoly this by 12 months. Now you see why the governors are fighting and the LGA chairmen and traditional chiefs are pissed off. It’s corruption and thievery and dirty cash and carry politics. Now you see why the politicians engage in killing and risking the youths lives by recruiting them as thugs? This is Nigeria where the senators and NA earn as mudh as billions per month. Let me say that before anyone can solve this problem, we have to start by calling the National Assembly folks to order. Revisit their stipend formulas and amend it to be in line with what the general public makes. They are not more important and do not do more than the airf pilot or the school principal. If they think they are super humans, let them not contest elections and they should find other jobs to do. Some of them are lawyers, others are engineers and medical doctors. Let them practice the jobs they were trained for and not present themelves for elective offices.

  23. These governors are senseless to the plight of the people who voted them into power. Abia State is one of the worse culprit where the governor is busy installing local government committee one after another so that he can have time to steal the LGA treasury dry without any development. It is a big shame that someone that was elected into office do not want others to be so elected. The Nigerian people have spoken that we want LGA autonomy, the House of Rep and the Senate should go ahead and pass the law. We are ready to fight these idiotic governors. There should be enough mobilization to chase away all the ”crazy bald heads” The time is now.

  24. All Local Government Chairmen are thieves. 99% of them are buying houses in Abuja, building five-star hotels all over Mega-cities. Give them absolute financial autonomy, they will sell their citizens. True Federalism as done is other developing countries is the option.

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