Oshiomhole Promises To Make Local Governments Relevent

The Edo state government has promised increased local government participation to make it more active and relevant.

The state governor, Adams Oshiomhole made this known at a meeting with traditional rulers from Edo north senatorial district where he also appealed for their support in tackling challenges of local governments, especially in the area of security.

Governors’ forum signifies interest in the devolution of powers

The thirteenth edition of Nigerian governors’ forum focused on constitutional issues as the governors are considering a review of the devolution of power in the amendment of the constitution.

The meeting which was held in Abuja during the day as the governors walked into the River state governors’ lodge for the closed door session.This further showed the urgency and importance of the issues to be discussed ranging from devolution of powers, revenue allocation, local government autonomy, land use act, national youth service act and security (state police) as we were informed after the meeting by the Chairman of the forum; Governor Chibuike Amaechi, he also read the agreement reached by the forum and added that the forum considered the growing clamour for revenue allocation and autonomy of local government administration.

He however stated that the forum is yet to reach a consensus on the issues.

Some of the state governors renewed the call for the establishment of state police amidst disagreement from their colleagues.

Speaking with newsmen after the meeting, Governor Rochas Okorocha, stated that the Federal Government is carrying a heavy burden on itself, which is affecting the pace of development in the country.

Specifically on state police he said, “On the issue of state police, we have divided opinion. We have some people who believe that we should have state police and some believe that state police in the hands of politicians might be abused.

“Some of us, we believe that state police, community police, village police is the best way to go. Police should be decentralised to enable them really function at the grass root level.

On devolution of powers he said “there should be a distinction between federal police, state police. Whether we like it or not, we have community police, we have local government police and we have family police and you have police everywhere. Police is ability to check crime.

The position of the state governors is indeed a sensitive one which could have its consequences on the review of the 1999 constitution.

Reps threaten to withhold fund from undemocratic Local council administrators

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal on Wednesday cautioned the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha and other state governors on their handling of the country’s local government system.

The speaker warned that the National Assembly will move to discourage illegal local government councils by stopping their funding.

Mr Tambuwal sounded this warning against the background of the recent incidence in Imo State.

The Imo State governor had in August sacked the 27 reinstated Local government chairmen from office summarily dissolving the third-tier administration in Imo State and replacing the chairmen with Directors of Administration and General Services (DAGS).

The Speaker while in a meeting with the leaders and members of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALCON) at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, said most of the states in the country have been paying lip service to the section of the constitution that guarantee the autonomy of the Local government council.

“What we are thinking of doing in the House of Representatives and I’m sure, by and large the National Assembly is to tie that particular provision with the release of funds to undemocratically installed caretaker committee,” the speaker said.

“I will use this medium to call on the governor of Imo State to please respect the rule of law. If it is about might and power, I’m sure he is not the strongest personality, in terms of physique, that is in Imo state. But God in His infinite wisdom has made him to be the governor of Imo State, through an electoral process put in place by law. He should therefore also respect the law and do the right thing.

“What is happening there in Imo State is actually unacceptable and please; I am pleading; I am joining other Nigerians to plead with him to respect the laws of the land and do the right thing,” Mr Tambuwal said.

The National President of ALGON, Nwabueze Okafor, had appealed to the lawmakers to save the local government so that it can work for the country.

“The time has come for us to decide whether we want the Local government system to operate or whether we want to remove it entirely,” he said.

Mr Okafor said the ready vehicle through which the government can convey the dividend of democracy to all Nigerians is the local government councils. He therefore pleaded with the National Assembly to intervene in saving the councils from the powers of the state governors.

State governments are crippling Local councils – Babatunde Rotinwa

Former Head of Service in Lagos State, Babatunde Rotinwa on Monday accused the State governments in Nigeria for usurping the powers and responsibilities of the local government councils.

Mr Rotinwa disclosed this while responding to questions on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He said the structure of the local government council according to the first schedule of the Nigeria constitution consists of elected officials whose primary responsibilities is to bring government closer to the grassroot communities.

“Rather than allow them perform these functions, the state governments come under the excuse of so many things to corner the resources of the local governments and make the delivery of services at the grassroot almost impossible,” he said.

House of Rep adopts motion against appointment of LG caretaker committee

The House of Representatives on Thursday received and adopted a motion which kicked against the illegal constitution of caretaker committees by state governors in local government areas in the country.

About 25 states in the country do not have elected officials in the local government administration.

The motion noted that this system of government as practiced by many state governments was not provided for in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic as amended.

Friday Itulah, who sponsored the motion, pointed out the implication of the practice by 25 state governments if not checked.

“The practice by those states if not checked could bring the country into a lawless state”.

Though the motion was adopted, members expressed contrary views on the theme of illegality in the constitution of caretaker committees for local government councils.

A member from Akwa Ibom state, Emmanuel Okete spoke against the motion.

“I want to speak in total condemnation of the motion. Believing that this motion will not lead this honourable House anywhere except a collision with the very provision of the constitution we are wanting to protect”.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) had during his screening as a ministerial nominee by the Senate denounced the system of appointing caretaker committees for local government councils as being against the tenets and letters of the 1999 Constitution.

The Minister had chided some governors of violating Section 7 of the Nigerian Constitution by dissolving elected officials and appointing caretaker committees to run the affairs of local government council areas, he had said: “There is no gainsaying that section 7 of our constitution wants a situation where our local government area councils are manned by democratically-elected personnel. Let me also state clearly that the appointment of caretaker committees is illegal and unknown to law, but regrettably, nobody has challenged this constitutional lapses.

“We will wait and if I am reappointed as Attorney-General, we will look at it and try to redress the situation. Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that: “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the government of every state shall subject to Section 8 of this constitution, ensure their existence under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.”

The constitution further places the power to provide the legal framework for the administration of local councils on states; however, it never conferred on the state such powers as substituting “democratically elected” leaders at that tier of government with “appointed” ones.
Mr Adoke described the development as illegal and assured that if he was re-appointed Justice Minister, he would litigate such acts.

Meanwhile, a State High Court in Ekpoma on Thursday declared illegal and unconstitutional the Caretaker Committee Councils constituted by the Edo State Government.
The Court presided over by the Justice Akomolafe Wilson in a suit filed by Tony Okonigene versus Edo State Government and Attorney General of Edo State pronounced dissolved the local Councils and ordered the State Governor to conduct local Government election immediately.
Edo Government sources however said the State Government will appeal the decision of the Court.