Home Uncategorized Tinubu’s push for LG autonomy will foster grassroots development – TSF

Tinubu’s push for LG autonomy will foster grassroots development – TSF

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The Tinubu Stakeholders Forum (TSF) is drumming support for the Federal Government’s decision to take its advocacy for local government autonomy to the Supreme Court.

 

In a statement jointly signed by its Chairman Ahmad Sajoh and Secretary Josiah Afolabi, the group was emphatic that full autonomy for local governments will pave the way for proper grassroot development.

 

TSF said: “We firmly believe that granting full autonomy to local government areas (LGAs) is not just necessary but urgent for sustainable grassroots development.

 

“Such autonomy will enable local governments to directly access and utilize their resources for the advancement of their communities, ensuring they are accountable to the local populace.

 

“Currently, funds designated for local governments are channelled through state governments, severely hindering effective administration. It is a matter of fact that the Governors, through the joint accounts, retain control over these funds and disbursed only a fraction as they deem fit.

 

“This practice undermines the constitutional provisions designed to empower LGAs, resulting in stagnation and underdevelopment at the grassroots level which is why we believe that the lawsuit filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi is a significant step towards addressing this issue.

 

“As we all know by now, the suit seeks to enforce the independence of local governments by prohibiting state governors from arbitrarily dissolving democratically elected LGA leaders and by ensuring that funds from the Federation Account are directly allocated to local governments.

 

“This legal action is crucial in safeguarding the constitutional rights of local governments, which have been persistently violated by state governors.

 

“The Nigerian Constitution recognizes three tiers of government—federal, state, and local—and mandates a democratically elected local government system. Many state governors, however, have disregarded this constitutional requirement, opting instead to appoint caretaker committees that serve their interests rather than those of the local populace.

 

“This subversion of democratic principles not only contravenes the constitution but also significantly hampers local development and governance. The persistent failure to establish democratically elected local government systems has led to widespread inefficiency and a breakdown of essential services at the grassroots level.

 

“In supporting the decision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu with respect to the existence of Local Governments under democratically elected officials as opposed to Caretaker Committees or unelected Civil Servants, we are relying on Section 7 subsection (1) of the Constitution which states that “The system of local government by democratically elected local government Councils is under this Constitution guaranteed”

We wonder how many Governors and State Houses of Assembly will agree that their states be under a caretaker committee pending elections.

 

The group also argued that governance at the local government level has been paralyzed by the overbearing influence of state governors.

 

It said: “By withholding the Finances of the local governments and dispensing it through a “Joint Account Committee (JAC)” or any such contraptions, the state governments are denying the local governments opportunities to comply with Section 7 subsection (3) of the Constitution which states that ‘It shall be the duty of a local government council within the state to participate in economic planning and development of the area…’

 

“How can a governing entity participate in its economic planning and development if it does not control its resources? Moreover, the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution listed 25 items as the functions of local governments presupposing their autonomy to perform these functions without let or hindrance.

 

“Like many Nigerians, we are aware that funds meant for local communities which are crucial for grassroots development have often been withheld or mismanaged due to the control exerted by state authorities.

 

“This situation has led to inefficiencies, corruption, and a significant disconnect between local governments and the citizens they are meant to serve.

 

“We also know that any local government chairman who attempts to speak against the overbearing influence of state governors end up losing their jobs like the recent case of a council chairman in Ogun state who was impeached after kicking against his governor’s excesses.

 

“We commend the Federal Government for taking this bold step to uphold the Constitution and support local governance.

 

“For us, the legal action aligns with the Senate’s December 2023 resolution, calling for the enforcement of financial autonomy for local governments.

 

“it also demonstrates a commitment to restoring the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution and ensuring that local governments can operate independently and effectively.”

 

Tinubu Stakeholders Forum also explained what local government autonomy means for governance at the grassroots, which is: “Ensuring that local governments have full autonomy thar will lead to numerous benefits. Local government officials will be directly answerable to the people they serve, fostering a culture of accountability and transparency.

 

“Direct access to funds will enable LGAs to address local needs promptly and effectively, improving the quality of life for residents. Furthermore, autonomous LGAs can drive local economic development by investing in critical sectors such as infrastructure, education, and healthcare, thereby creating a more prosperous and self-sustaining community.

 

“We call on all stakeholders, including civil society organizations, community leaders, and citizens, to support this crucial initiative. The autonomy of local governments is not just a matter of constitutional compliance; it is a prerequisite for the genuine development of Nigeria’s grassroots communities, the group added.

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