The Ondo state Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu recently kicked against the agitations for local government autonomy. My attention was brought to this after he dismissed the call for Local Government Autonomy during the last maiden media chat tagged: An Evening with the Governor’ aired live on the state owned radio and television channels, said he never promised to support local government autonomy.
This is shameful that a whole Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) doesn’t really understand democracy and what true federalism is. Why do leaders as soon as they get into office develop two faces. The moment they get into office they stop standing by the side of the people. can someone please tell my Governor that the idea behind establishing local government is by way of bringing governance closer to the people and providing a platform for everybody to participate at his or her own community level. Any governor that is against the idea is only trying to justify their practice of illegally deducting money from the councils monthly allocation. it will be on record that any leader who desires the good of his people and the development of the grass root will support local government autonomy. it is very simple we want development to get to the grassroots.
The 1999 constitution[as amended] recognizes local government as the third tier of government which as far as we are concerned is the closest to the people and there are provisions in the document that give the councils partial autonomy but the aberration of having a state/ local government joint account where monthly allocations from the federation account are paid into invariably means that governors can have access to allocations that are accrue to the councils for capital and recurrent expenditures, this has led to a situation where state governors appropriate funds meant for the councils, while staff and workers of the councils are owed several months arrears of salaries. The local government and the supremacy of democracy at the local government as defined by section 7 of the constitution remains unwavering. They must be given Autonomy to save them from governors hijacking their funds. If the Governor wants to begin to hijack funds he should know that his days are numbered. On what basis do you dismiss Local government autonomy when the people you promised to deliver good governance to don’t feel any impact of your administration.
Most governors have become middlemen, they have simply hijacked this tier of government for their own advantage. I am pleased that the two chambers of National assembly recently played their part by amending some aspects of the 1999 constitution including clauses that grant autonomy to local government. we are simply waiting for the approval of at least 24 houses of Assembly for this proposal to become law. I have always canvassed for a separation of this joint account .The joint account between them and the states is not working. why cant the money be independent of the state. Take for example a local government that is receiving 145m monthly from the federation account and at the end of the day you will not see one good road that was done by the local government.
Please can we tell ourselves the truth, There is no programme going on in the local government except the state that will come and do it. This is not democracy.
The people at the grassroots don’t know any other leadership apart from those councillors and Chairmen. If you don’t give them that opportunity you have completely disconnected them from democracy.
What is proper is total autonomy so that the people at the grassroots can feel the direct presence of government. Local government should have control over their funds. This is a place you provide service.
We have over 774 all over the country. It is when we strangulate them that you see lots of problems and underdevelopment at that level.
No progress can be achieved in the local government if the present status quo of interference by the state governors is retained. Local government must be financially autonomous to achieve development in the rural areas. Autonomy will allow the councils to pay salaries and foot their various bills.
Granting autonomy to local government at this time would go a long way in not only restore but improve socio – economic development of the nation, it remains the fastest way to guarantee rapid growth at the grassroots and a viable democratic process in the country. I strongly call for the removal of clauses 7, 8, 162 and any other clause in the 1999 constitution that compromise the autonomy of local government, it should be deleted to give free and unfettered meaning to “autonomy” to make them function as third -tier of government, they should be directly funded and the tenure of their executive and legislature should be fully stated. The current practice where governors are in charge of what rightly belongs to the local governments is unconstitutional.
I hereby challenge the Governor of my state to an open debate. Democracy will continue to remain the government of the people by the people and for the people. Every undemocratic forces of darkness singing songs of anti people into his ears we bind it in Jesus name.
In the coming weeks I will be launching the Ondo State Advanced Youth Leaders Network to
1. Hold Government accountable
2. Follow the budget
3. Raise New breeds of Ondo youths of high pedigree build their capacity to keep government on their toes.
God bless Ondo state!!
God bless Ondo Youths!!
God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria!!
Peter Modupe is a popular Abuja based Youth Activist/Entrepreneur