President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has reiterated his support for local government autonomy in the country.
Saraki threw his weight behind the agitation for power devolution to the local councils when the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) led by its National President, Comrade Ibrahim Khalil, paid him a courtesy call, promising that the National Assembly would continue to work towards its realization.
His words: “Here in the Senate and the National Assembly, we appreciate the importance of governance in the third tier of government — the local government. As such, it is very important that we strengthen local government administration.”
“Part of strengthening local government administration is ensuring that there is autonomy. I also believe that strengthening local government administration means that we all do our best to increase the capacity of the local governments.
“Sometimes, you find out that in developed countries, people who are competent to contest at a level even as high as the Senate would tell you that they don’t want to be at the Federal level like Abuja or Washington, they prefer to stay at the local level,” he said.
He, however, maintained that there must be a symbiotic relationship between the states and the local governments to ensure that the third tier of government is not placed at a disadvantage. “It is important that we see how local governments can be independent, how local governments can have more autonomy. Governors cannot interfere with what is due to local governments,” he said.
To ensure the necessary check and balances, he added, “there must be a cordial and symbiotic relationship. If we just say that local governments should just be on their own, it might have some disadvantages.”
Saraki noted that only nine states were in support of local government autonomy during the last constitution amendment, stating that he would do more to ensure that further cooperation and collaboration is achieved to rectify the issue.
Earlier, the National President of NULGE lamented that local government administrations in the country had been rendered impotent over the years as a result of undue interference. “We recognize that the leadership of the National Assembly has a critical role to play in ensuring that Local Governments become autonomous in this country,” Khalil said.