Home General State Assemblies Endorse Local Government Autonomy
- The Conference of Speakers of state Houses of Assembly met in Yola, the Adamawa State capital on Friday 22nd September, 2017, where they took far reaching decisions on burning issues in Nigeria. One of the issues the speakers extensively deliberated on was the recent constitution amendment by the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which when eventually signed into law will guarantee autonomy for the 3rd tier of government in Nigeria, the Local Government system.
Agitation for the local governments in Nigeria has remained on the front burner in the Nigerian politics for a long time, and the agitations got even louder since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999. Various groups have advanced all manner of arguments for and against the autonomy for local governments in Nigeria.
Currently, the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE have been the most vocal of the proautonomy for the local governments, while the governors of the states are diametrically opposed to the granting of autonomy to local governments. Many of the governors argue that the local government system is squarely within the purview and control of the states in Nigeria and therefore, only the states can determine the fate of the local governments.
Whereas, some lawyers argue that if Nigeria is indeed a country that runs a three tier government system, viz: federal, state and local governments, and the local government with the national income shared accordingly, it then must necessarily follow that the local governments must have financial
and administrative freedom from the states.
However, in the recent constitutional amendments, autonomy for local governments have been settled as a must if democracy must be mainstreamed in Nigeria’s national life.
Shockingly, however, the Conference of Speakers could not reach an agreement on their own fate with regards to
the constitutional amendments: that is financial autonomy for the State Houses of Assembly. The issue of financial autonomy which has been the bane of the state legislature in Nigeria, especially since the return to democracy in 1999 was avoided all together by the Speakers.
The matter has been a touchy one for state governors who do not condone any form of criticism or opposition even rom the legislature and the judiciary.
States in Nigeria appear to be run like fiefdoms by the governors who do all within their means to pocket all segments of the society in their states and the state legislature usually is the first victim of the fief lords.
Constitutionally, the state legislature is there to be the visible control on fiscal policies of the states and of course as representatives of the people at the grassroots, be the ones to carry the aspirations of the grassroots in the state, but the (state MPs) are unable to voice out lest they offend the governors.
The recent constitution amendments were designed to help the mainstreaming of democratic norms in the states by ensuring that the state legislature is freed from the apron string of the state chief executives.
In a related development, the Imo State government has declared that Owerri is ready to host the African Parliamentarians billed to arrive the state within weeks from now for the meeting scheduled for 28 October, 2017. Speaking with the Legislative Digest, the Chief Press Secretary to Imo state Governor, Mr, Sam Onwuemeodo assured all “visitors and
tourists to Imo state that the state is prepared and ready for them as there is 24hours guaranteed security, well lit streets, world class hotels, conference and relaxation facilities and most
importantly a very welcoming and hospitable people” to welcome and make them feel at home in all parts of Imo state.
According to Onwuemeodo, the government of Imo state led by His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha rescued Imo state from a state of infrastructural decay and backwardness and today, Owerri the state capital is now back to its glorious past as a destination of choice as the Eastern Heart land. Imo state now boasts of world class conference venues, hotels and personnel that can cater for all manner of high class events. On the issue of security, the government assures all visitors to Imo state that Owerri and indeed all parts of Imo state are safe for business and leisure.
“States in Nigeria are run like fiefdoms by the governors who do all within their means to pocket all segments of the society in their states and the state legislature usually is the first victim of the fief lords”