The House of Representatives on Thursday passed for second reading, a bill seeking to give local government full financial and administrative autonomy.
The bill also seeks to make local councils have a uniform tenure across the states.
The legislation is titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Further Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for the Financial and Administrative Autonomy of Local Government Councils and Uniformity of Tenure Across the Country; and for Related Matters.’
The sponsor of the bill, Mr Munsur Soro, while leading debate on the bill, said the proposal was necessary at a time when there is “monumental development” at the grassroots. He stated that crafters of the Constitution, in their wisdom, guaranteed the independence of the third their of government.
Soro said, “However, the present reality is a great contrast with the original provisions of the Constitution. Politically, the local governments lack autonomy as the state governments interfere in their elections. Administratively, the local governments lack independence as the state governments determine their staff recruitment and discipline. Financially, the local government councils are not independent as their funds are often withheld by the state governments through the state joints account.”
The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the plenary, however, noted that not all states had not conducted local government elections, while some governors did not interfere in the affairs of the councils.
Wase said, “This is a bill that has passed through this House…this is the third time it is being brought on the floor of the House. I want to appeal that we need to put some caution. It is not all governors that are involved in those activities. So, we should not use sweeping words on all of them. My appeal is also that it is a constitutional matter. It will still require the state assemblies. It is very important. So, I want to appeal to all of us that the intention of the bill is to bring good governance across the country.”
Wase, then, put adoption of the motion for second reading and it was unanimously approved.