From Sola Ojo, Kaduna

Following the failure of some state governors to ensure the conduct of the local government elections as when due, a civic hub of changemakers and a non-governmental organisation that promotes democracy, governance, and development in Africa, Yiaga Africa, has reminded such governors that they are not emperors.

According to Yiaga Africa, those governors, who have been elected to represent people but deny people at the local level to choose their leaders at that level democratically, are violating the same constitution that brought them to power.

In an interview on the sideline of a one-day high-level roundtable discussion with critical stakeholders in Kaduna, Director of Programmes Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said her organisation was in the state to advocate for the review of electoral law that regulates local government elections in line with the provisions of the new electoral act.

To her, “the issue of local government autonomy has been a major challenge in Nigeria and the ongoing constitutional review process is on advocacy to amend the constitution to guarantee autonomy for all the local governments.

“However, our focus for now is on local election given that with the current framework if we support fiscal and administrative independence of the State Electoral Commissions (SIECOMs) they can be better positioned to conduct credible elections at the local level.

“That advocacy also includes things around political interference by governors refusing to release the precise funding for election which can be addressed with electoral law.

Related News

“We are proposing that governors must realize that they are not emperors, they are elected by the people and because they are elected by the people, they are guided by the constitution which guarantees the local government election.

“The governors should know that when they fail to conduct local government election, they are disobeying the constitution and abusing the fundamental rights of the people at the local level”, she said.

A member of a working group for Yiaga Africa and former Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara State, Dr. Asma’u Sani Maikudi, identified the 1999 constitution as the major problem working against the ideal local government autonomy.

“The major problem I see is the 1999 constitution. The constitution is ambiguous in the sense that it has given the local government autonomy and decrees that there must be a free fair democratically elected chairman in councils in each state of the federation.

“At the same time, they say local governments are not federating units which looks contradictory.

“So, there is a need for the constitutional review along this line because if they are made autonomous, we are going to see a lot of difference in their activities and even growth and development at the grassroots compared to what we see today in this local government secretariat,” she said.

VERIFIED: Nigerians (home & diaspora) can now be paid in US Dollars. Earn up to $17,000 (₦27 million) with premium domains. Click here to start