AUTONOMY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILS AND STATE LEGISLATURE IS IMPERATIVE FOR DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION
A Press Release
It pis unfortunate that the current efforts to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has een stalled by the delay by some State Houses of Assembly to assent to the Constitutional bills sent by the National Assembly on Autonomy for Local Governments and State Legislature. There are concerns that this constitutional amendment gridlock is at the instance of some State Governors.
Currently, Jigawa, Kebbi, Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Gombe, Plateau. Kwara, Imo, Ebonyi, Oyo, Sokoto and Ondo State Houses of Assembly are yet to assent to the very crucial bills on autonomy for local governments and state legislatures. Interestingly, one of the bills which is on financial and administrative independence for the legislature is of utmost benefit to the State Houses of Assembly which are delaying assent. This suggests an attitude of institutional hostage-taking as it appeals to common logic that the concerned State Houses of Assembly would have since willingly and gladly assented to that piece of progressive legislation. The fact that it has not happened proves that there are very strong forces pulling some backward strings from behind the scene. This is most unfortunate!
As the Speaker of the House of Representatives meet with State Governors this week, Nigerian workers who bear the brunt of poor allocation of public resources and scant welfare for workers at the lower echelon of government in Nigeria demand that the constitutional bills on financial and administrative autonomy for local governments and state houses of assembly should be assented to without further delay by State Houses of Assembly yet to do so. This progressive step is very crucial to exempt affected state legislatures and their Governors from the harsh judgement of history.
Besides severe excoriation by posterity, the State Houses of Assembly still dragging their feet on the revolutionary constitutional bills for local government autonomy should understand that millions of Nigerians are watching with keen interest how they treat these bills which translate to huge developmental gains for the mass of our workers and people who live in rural places. This caution is critical given that 2023 general election is just weeks away. The Nigerian masses will not forget political office holders who took their side.
This is the time to consolidate on Nigeria’s democratic growth. The two bills on autonomy for local governments and state houses of assembly holds the key to this shared democratic expectation. The two bills in focus also have the potential of accelerating the unveiling of accountable governance and realization of developmental goals including the Sustainable Development Goals as it would direct public expenditures to where they are needed the most – the grassroots. This will go a long way in dealing a mortal blow on rural unemployment, multi-dimensional rural poverty currently at about 73%, high rural-urban migration and upsurge in crimes and vices.
Finally, on autonomy for State Legislatures, state lawmakers being goaded by their State Governors to delay assent to a bill that would strengthen the institution they represent must remember that no condition is permanent. A time would come in their political future when the only available refuge from political vicissitudes would be their State House of Assembly. Most of the Governors opposing autonomy for local governments and State Legislature have very active aspiration to be elected to the National Assembly.
It is on the strength of the foregoing counsel that we appeal to State Governors and lawmakers to quickly assent to the constitutional bills on autonomy for local governments and state legislatures. Nigerian workers and people are waiting with their votes in 2023 to dispense in rations pressed down, shaken together, and running over for State lawmakers and Governors who take sides against the people.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
20th December 2022