Local government councils dead in Nigeria – Senate 

The Senate Wednesday declared that local government councils in Nigeria that symbolise the third tier of government are dead. This was attributed to the usurpation of their functions and the financial starvation slammed on them by many of

state governors.

THE Senate said governors starve councils through abuse of the joint account as contained in section 7 of the 1999 constitution.

The red chamber consequently made a clarion call on President Bola Tinubu to collaborate with the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders for resuscitation of the dead local government councils.

These were fallouts from a motion sponsored by Senator Suleiman Kawu (NNPP Kano south)  on the urgent need for President Tinubu to resuscitate local government system in Nigeria.

Senator Kawu in his lead debate on the motion  lamented  that  in the tapestry of Nigeria’s governance system, local governments are meant to be threads that weave development close to the grasstoots.

“Envisioned as the closest tier of administration to the people, they hold the potential to address local needs directly and shape communities from inside out. 

“But the story of Nigeria’s local government system is one of promise and paradox, woven with threads of hope and frustration.”

He said: “The journey began in 1976 with a local government reform, aiming to decentralise power and empower communities.

“Envisioned as self-governing entities with elected officials, local governments handled critical aspects of community life – primary education, healthcare, sanitation, local infrastructure and community security. 

“t was a dream of grassroots democracy, where decisions were made closer to the people.”

He noted that the dream of achieving the objectives of the local government system encountered harsh realities. 

“Successive governments often eroded local autonomy, limiting their financial resources and control over decision-making. 

“Corruption scandals and mismanagement tarnished the image of some local governments, fueling public cynicism.

“Some governors play a crucial role in frustrating local government autonomy in Nigeria via constitutional alteration processes and with limited financial and operational autonomy, local governments might struggle to effectively address local security concerns like community policing initiatives, intelligence gathering, and infrastructure maintenance.

“Local governments, once major employers, are financially constrained and unable to hire the necessary staff. 

“This surge in unemployment creates a pool of vulnerable individuals susceptible to criminal recruitment, further exacerbating the nation’s security issues.”

During contributions from senators across party lines to the debate, it was lamentation galore.  Senators said the local government system  has been crippled by the governors and thus  the need for constitution amendment to give it autonomy administratively and financially.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Jibrin Barau, who presided over the session said ” the local government system is dead in Nigeria and can only be resuscitated through far reaching constitution amendments which should guarantee their administrative and financial autonomy as well as making the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ), their  electoral umpire.”

The Senate also resolved that unified electoral system and tenure of office of the chairmen and councilors of the local governments in Nigeria should be put in place and that the federal government should stop releasing monthly allocation  of fund to caretaker committee-led local government areas across the country.

Anambra state where caretaker committees have been in saddle for 18 years  was cited as example as alleged by Senator Ifeanyi Uba (APC Anambra South).