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Governors Diverting Local Govt Funds – Senate

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The Senate has asked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to stop the allocation of funds to caretaker committee-led local government areas (LGAs) and urged to take the lead in advocating for full autonomy for local governments in Nigeria as a matter of urgency.

This Red Chamber accused state governors of misappropriating funds allocated to local government councils in Nigeria, stating that the local government system is practically non-existent in the country.

It highlighted the challenges faced in achieving the objectives of the local government system due to limited financial resources and control over decision-making.

Naija News reports that the Senate’s resolutions were made following a motion put forward by Senator Suleiman Kawu from NNPP, representing Kano South.

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While presenting the motion, Senator Kawu said, “The Senate notes that in the tapestry of Nigeria’s governance system, local governments are meant to be threads weaving development close to the ground.

‘’Envisioned as the closest tier of administration to the people, they hold the potential to address local needs directly and shape communities from inside out. But the story of Nigeria’s local government system is one of promise and paradox, woven with threads of hope and frustration;

“Also notes that the journey began in 1976 with local government reform, aiming to decentralize power and empower communities.

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‘’Envisioned as self-governing entities with elected officials, local governments handled critical aspects of community life – primary education, healthcare, sanitation, local infrastructure and community security. It was a dream of grassroots democracy, where decisions were made closer to the people they impacted.

‘’Aware that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, when he served as governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007, demonstrated sincere passion for the autonomy of the local governments in Lagos State. This can be grasped when he purportedly established 37 LCDAs within LGAs in Lagos State and introduced reforms to strengthen them.

“Also aware that the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, when he served as the governor of Akwa-Ibom Stated from 2007 to 2015, implemented various initiatives to improve service delivery at the local level, such as rehabilitating infrastructure, investing in healthcare and education, and launching poverty alleviation programmes, as well as deducting 10% of the IGR to LGAs which informed groundbreaking achievements by LGA in Akwa-Ibom State local government administration.’

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“Also worried that some governors play a crucial role in frustrating local government autonomy in Nigeria via constitutional alteration processes.’’

In his remarks during the debate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, representing APC, Abia North and a former governor of Abia State, recognized that councillors previously had the authority to approve small contracts, but expressed concern over the current absence of local government.

He emphasized the necessity of returning local government funds entirely to the local councils and enhancing the capabilities of those managing them.

Senator Ahmad Lawan, representing APC, Yobe North, contributed by highlighting the importance of effective local governments guaranteed by the constitution. He stressed the need to enhance the skills of individuals overseeing the local government system and advocated for the devolution of powers to achieve this goal.

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, representing APC-Anambra South, stressed the significance of examining Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution to promote good governance in the country.

‘’We need to amend it, so we can start having values for democracy in our states. A state like Anambra has not conducted local government election in the last 18 years,” Ubah said.

During the plenary session, the Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, expressed his viewpoint by stating that local governments in Nigeria have become non-functional.

He further highlighted the issue of governors misusing the funds allocated to local governments.

‘’They force local government chairmen to sign off cheques and give them meagre amounts as running costs. Some governors are different and we thank them for doing the right thing,” Barau noted.

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