The House of Representatives on Monday accused state governors of pilfering local government funds for their selfish interest, a reason some of them opposed moves to grant financial autonomy to the third tier of government.
The House took particular exception to recent comments by Kano State Governor, Mr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, on the issue.
The governor had opposed the ongoing constitution amendment by the National Assembly, autonomy for local governments and state legislatures as well the constituency projects of members of the National Assembly.
The governor accused the National Assembly of embarking on the exercise because of the money members would make from it.
He said, “We don’t need constitution amendment in this time; what we need is constitution enforcement.
“So, as far as we are concerned, constitution amendment is just a diversion, wastage of time and money and the National Assembly should be blamed for this because there is a lot of benefit for them in the exercise.”
But, on Monday, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said Kwankwaso and other governors were “misleading” Nigerians and acting as demi-gods in their opposition to the constitution amendment.
Mohammed said, “On the issue of local government autonomy, as far as Nigerians are concerned, it is long overdue.
“Arising from our peoples public sessions as true representatives of the people, our constituents do not agree with the current status where local government funds are being pilfered by governors, including Kwankwaso, at the expense of the people and chairmen, who are seen as mere boys for the job.
“I challenge the Kano State governor to tell the people of his state and Nigerians how these funds are managed in Kano since he came to office.
“We will certainly not accept a situation where governors have turned themselves to demi-gods in the name of joint account.
“It is saddening to note that LG elections have not been held in some states since 1999,wondering what sort of government states are running.”
Mohammed explained that the aim of the National Assembly was to pursue the principles of true federalism “where the federal, state and local governments will function as federating units for the benefits of the Nigerian people.”
The House also accused state governors of encouraging graft by opposing the independence of states legislature.
He said, “A lot of state assemblies are an extension of the state executive council,where speakers and the House leadership permanently go cap in hand to the governors for their needs.”
On the constituency projects built into each annual budget for lawmakers, Mohammed said the role of legislators in the projects was limited to selecting the sites, but denied that they were involved in actual execution.
Meanwhile, the Ad-Hoc Committee Constitution Review said on Monday that the results of the Peoples Public Sessions organised by the House in November last year would be presented to the public on January 31.