By Abdullahi Gambo
United Nations Democracy Fund, (UNDEF) in partnership with Social Action have called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the 36 State Governors and the houses of Assemblies to as a matter of urgency retransmit and pass the local government autonomy bill into law.
Borno State Coordinator of Budget Monitoring and Advocacy Committee (CBAC) Barrister Ali made the call at a press briefing in Maiduguri to advocate for local government autonomy across the Federation.
Barrister Ali explained that their campaign was necessitated to take governance to grassroot for infrastructural development and empowerment of the people at the grassroot level.
He added that attempt to secure 2/3 votes from the States Houses of Assembly to amend the Constitution could not be achieved during the 9th Assembly as a result of delay by State Governors who prefer to have the third tier of government tied to their apron string for their personal selfish benefit.
Borno State Coordinator Social Action noted that earlier this month, Senior Programs Officer Social Action, Prince Ekpere Edegbuo and other critical Stakeholders convene a virtual town hall meeting themed ” Demanding local government Autonomy: Legal Requirements and Advocacy Strategies, as well as as Citizens and Local Government Consultative Dialogue on Inclusive Budgeting for Effective Service Delivery.
Compelling revelations were made at the meeting as between 2001 and 2018, 14.7 trillion naira was disbursed to the 774 local government in Nigeria, but much of these funds were mismanaged by the State governments, while communities wallow in a total lack of infrastructure and human capital development, and that 1999 Constitution mandate Governors to share 10 percent of their Internally generated funds with local governments which all in futile.
Citing an example in Borno State, Barrister Ali noted that Jere and Konduga local government have between September to November 2022, received the sum of 676.5 and 743.5 millions respectively, where Community Budget Advocate Committee (CBAC) have requested for the budget documents of Jere and Konduga and other LGAs, no response was gotten after several attempts.
It is against this backdrop that they demanded certain actions which includes that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to transmit the local Government Autonomy bill to National Assembly for passage into law, and prevail on the 36 State Governors to allow passage of the bill in the State Houses of Assemblies.
The Borno State Local Government Budget Advocate Committee demands that the local government be granted full autonomy to truly function as a tier of government and that LGAs in Borno State operate an open, inclusive and participatory budget process and to lead in transparency and accountability in the utilization of public resources.
That the Borno State house of Assembly should as a matter of necessity proceed to enact law directing all local government in the State to have functional websites and a clear communication channels where Community People and others can easily access LGAs fiscal documents to engage Council leadership and to advocate for development projects for their Communities.
The abolishment of the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) across Nigeria and that local government elections be conducted by INEC, as well as the abolishment of the joint allocation committee between the State and local government to enable LGAs receive their allocations directly and be held accountable by the people who elected them into office.