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Re-federalisation of Nigeria for local administration

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IT is unfortunate that the federal government has unleashed a statutory body, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit [NFIU] on the state governments to prevent them from overseeing monthly statutory allocations to the local government councils through the instrumentality of State/Local Government Joint Account.

The latest shenanigan is in line with the illusion of enthroning the so-called “local government financial autonomy”. Fact remains that there is nothing like local government autonomy in a federal system of government the world over.

It is high time the purveyors of local government autonomy namely the phony and unnecessary club called “Association of Local Government of Nigeria [ALGON] and NULGE. The much-trumpeted local government autonomy got the backing of the members of the National Assembly who know next to nothing about the principles undergirding federal system of government the world over.

One searing fact which these ignoramuses on federalism have not bordered to accept is that the practice of federalism cannot be different from what is obtained in other democracies. The principle of federalism is not strange in Nigeria because the founding fathers of Nigeria Independence recognized the fact that it is only federalism that was suited in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. The principles of federalism were spelt out in the independent and republican constitutions but the forces of ultra-conservatism which the military regime represented brazenly dumped them in preference to the “federal-unitary contraption” in practice backed by the undemocratic [military-imposed] 1999 Constitution being panel-beating by the lopsided National Assembly.

Like every other principle in science, when the principles of federal system of government are violated, the outcome spawns problems; and that has been at the roots of socio-economic and political challenges dogging the growth and development of the country.

The pith and marrow of restructuring the federation and governance is to reinvent the principles of federalism to get the country on the right tract and move forward to join advance nations of the world.

In the first republic, the issue of “local administration” now called “local government councils”, was not in the Exclusive Legislative List because it is within the purview of the federating unit called Regional Government as there were only two legislative lists viz: Exclusive Legislative List and Residual Legislative List. It was the military regime that dumped the realistic principles of federalism for what federalists cynically dubbed “federal-unitary contraption” being used to muddle up governance in Nigeria, hence the clarion calls for restructuring the federation and governance or Re-federalization of Nigeria for “True Fiscal Federalism”.

During the aberrant military regimes teleguided by the “Northern Establishment”, it witout caring about the feelings of the southerners  brazenly violated the federal principles by (1) making local administration a tier of government to be partakers of revenue allocations which is antithetical to federal principles and a democratic fraud, (2) it made statutory allocations to be three levels viz: federal, state, and local government which is also not in tune with federal practice as was in the first republic, another brazen democratic fraud ostensibly to benefit only the states in the north, (3) it enthroned gross marginalization through inequity and injustice by creating surplus local government councils in the north at the expense of the south.

For instance, Lagos and Kano previously had equal number of [20] local government councils but the military autocrats created additional 20 making it 40. Not satisfied yet, it created Jigawa State out of Kano and created more local government councils, but Lagos still has 20. (4) Being acutely aware that civilian government would come,  the military made sure that the National Assembly is lopsided in favour of the north by making local government councils basis for Federal Constituencies so that in the National Assembly, the north would always be in the majority for any voting for laws and policies affecting the country.

It was expected that the south would naturally make proposals to balance the number of local government councils in the north with the south. In that instance, it would not receive majority approval because the majority members are from the north. That is why it has not been possible to create any more local government councils since the civilian government came on board.

So the shenanigans of  ‘local government financial autonomy” is outright rubbish because the basis for governance in Nigeria today is an undemocratic constitution, a military imposition without democratic credentials; hence the calls for a people-oriented democratic grundnorm. In other words, it is naïve to agitate for the supposed financial autonomy of local government council when the supreme law of the land-the constitution remains a monumental democratic fraud.

Governors should be at liberty to organize their local administration they way they fancy. In Anambra State for instance, Governor Willie Obiano has bankrolled all the needs of the 179 communities in the populist developmental agenda and the impact is reverberating.

The “Community Choose Your Projects” could be described as “a paradigm shift in rural development”. The state government has expended N40 millions in the two phases and has called the third phase of N20 million. The projects have transformed the landscape of the communities. If it were the elected local government councils that have been in place, these monumental projects would have been a mirage.

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