By: Joy Odor/Kaduna
As Kaduna State set out to conduct local government election in May 2018, participants at a one day sensitization workshop has called for the scrapping of State Electoral Commission (SEC), as they are under the thump of the governors doing their bidding.
The made the call in a resolution reached at the end of a community forum workshop in Kaduna state, North-West, Nigeria on Tuesday on the need for supporting local government autonomy in Nigeria organized by Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women and League of Democratic Women in partnership with Action Aid Nigeria under its project titled ‘Strengthening Citizens Engagement in the Electoral Process.
According to the resolution shortly after a paper presentation on ‘The quest for Local Government Autonomy and the promotion of transparency and accountability in local governance by a Consultant and founder of Centre for Population and Development, Dr. Zwaghu Bonat also demanded that state and local government joint account must be abolished to allow transparency, accessibility and avoid interference with local government funds by the governors.
This, they said, is because local governments have been unable to use their comparative advantage to perform their functions as they have been robbed of their autonomy as the third tier of government.
“States governments, especially under the present dispensation in Kaduna State, have been arbitrary and recklessly abusive in the exercise of power, to the detriment of democracy and development of the state.
“Instead of designing a regulatory framework to make the LGAs accountable, their corruption and arbitrary exercise of power has been used to further make them ineffective” the said.
The participants however complained that Local Government Council is a constituted tier of government in Nigeria but over the years has not been able to operate as an entity, hence the need for stakeholders to dialogue on strengthening local government administration in Nigeria, ensuring accountability and transparency in governance at the grassroots level.
“All LGCs should directly receive their funds from the Federation Account; operate their own Treasury Single Accounts, and should not be crippled by the State government’s TSA.
“The ongoing reform and constitutional amendment on the LGA’s Autonomy must be given all the required support to scale through all legislative process for amendment to allow Local Government access their funds directly from the federal allocation.
“Powers given to state houses of assembly to make laws for local governments should be reviewed, in view of the abuse of such powers by the governors and members of state houses of assembly.
“All contradictory constitutional provisions on local government functions and operations should be reviewed to protect local government from the state governments.
Earlier, the Executive Director of the Organization, Mrs. Rebecca John said they have begun mobilization campaign in Kaduna State in an effort to influence the National Assembly to grant autonomy to local governments.
She informed the autonomy, if granted will ensure development at the local government level.
According to her, the organization had held workshop to enlist people’s support in the state to put pressure on lawmakers at national and state levels to support local councils’ autonomy.
Mrs. Rebecca John was of the opinion that “the workshop was organized to engage members from different local government in the state towards sensitization of other members of the community to support local government autonomy.
“This is because local government plays a vital role in the development process of every state.
“But as you are all aware, local government, as a third tier of government, has been robbed of its autonomy as enshrined in the Constitution to the extent that citizen have forgotten the responsibilities of local government to them.
“Yes, there is ineffectiveness and corruption at local government levels, but this is because decentralization has not been properly executed at local levels.
“Currently, most of the responsibilities of local government are being done by the state government. This is unconstitutional’’, the director said” she stressed.