Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said it has become imperative to review the laws establishing the local government with the aim of checking the excesses of state governments regarding the running of the councils.
Obasanjo argued that reviewing the council laws would put an end to the current situation whereby the state governments are usually accused of “ambushing” funds allocated to the councils.
The former president said this when the National Executive members of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria led by its National President, Nwabueze Okafor, visited him in Abeokuta on Friday.
He added that state governments lacked the legal backing to carry out such unconstitutional process of deducting funds from the councils’ allocation.
He said, “It is the states that will be sitting on the local government money without recourse to their legislature and appropriation process. Therefore, they have to get their money too.
“Since the National Assembly is talking about constitution amendments, may be it is also important to talk about amending the local government laws so that there is no means or way the states will ambush the local government money and there will be also how we can call the local government to order; how they can be called to account, to be held responsible.”
Obasanjo, whose military regime promulgated the Local Government Administration Laws in 1976, also expressed regret that the essence of creating the third tier of government had been defeated with recent events.
He added, “When we brought the reform nationally, we then said it is the third tier of government in Nigeria. What we are saying in other word is that the local government is the closest government to the people.
“Unfortunately, the adjustments followed, people started asking for local government in their backyards. The military succumbed and what we have is that they could not be able to deliver.”
The ALGON president stated that Obasanjo remained the father of local government administration in the country having spearheaded the 1976 local government reforms.
Okafor said, “This was again manifested in the creation of ALGON in 1999 when you were democratically elected as a civilian President.”
Meanwhile, Forum of State Chairmen of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, South-South Zone, has called on the National Assembly to make proper legislation that would grant the autonomy to local government administration in the country.
In a communiqué issued in Port Harcourt shortly after a meeting of the CNPP chairmen on Saturday, the forum explained that such legislation would encourage development at the local government level.
The communiqué signed by signed by the Rivers State CNPP Chairman, Dr. Manaidi Dagogo-Jack, his counterpart from Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Linus Udofia, and four others took exception to the state/local government joint allocation account supervised by state governments.