by Rachel Ogbu
Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo has called for the review of local council laws to check what he described as “excesses of state governments.”
Obasanjo lamented that the essence and ideals of the creating the councils has been defeated.
He advocated for the review at the weekend when members of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), led by their National President, Nwabueze Okafor, paid him a visit in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Obasanjo, whose military regime promulgated the Local Government Administration Laws in 1976, also expressed regret that the essence of creating the third tier of government had been defeated with recent events.
“When we brought the reform nationally, we then said it was the third tier of government in Nigeria. In other words, what we were saying was that the local government is the closest government to the people.
“Unfortunately, the adjustments followed, people started asking for local governments in their backyards. The military succumbed and what we had was that they could not be able to deliver.
“If the local governments are to perform, they must be ready to endure and be sustained. I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the state governments to garnish the local government money. And that is what is happening in most of the states and that is not the intention of creating the local governments.
“If the Federal Government does not tamper with the state governments’ funds, why should the states be the ones that will be sitting on the local governments’ money without recourse to their legislature and appropriation process?”
“Since the National Assembly is talking about constitution amendments, may be it is also important to talk about amending the local government laws so that there will be no means the states will ambush the local governments’ money and there will also be means to call the local governments to give account of their activities.”
In his speech, ALGON President, Okafor described Obasanjo as the father of local council administration, having spearheaded the 1976 local council reforms.
Speaking further, he said “This was again manifested in the creation of ALGON in 1999 when Obasanjo was elected as a civilian president.”
“Sir, under you, much happened and since you handed over, we have been slaves in the hands of the state governments. We have come to you to lend voice to the problems of local governments in the country.”