The National Auditor NULGE Comrade Shamdung Ayuba Jepla JP has canvassed for local government autonomy by saying that” the country must accept the reality that local governments need to be allowed to operate outside the strangulation of states.
Auditor NULGE, Shamdung who represented the national secretariat made this statement in Niger State while presenting a paper before the Senate Committee on constitution review on the position of Local Government Autonomy in Nigeria.
He pointed out issues of importance as to why the third tier of Government should have autonomy,saying this would help in bringing meaningful development at the grassroots level and also better the working condition of local Government workers.
According to him ,”It’s no longer news that Local Government workers are not adequately paid their wages as at went due but with Local Government autonomy, there is hope for a better working condition for Local Government staff and also development at the grass root level “.
He gave recommendations to support the local Government autonomy in Nigeria.
Ayuba emphasized that the federal Structure and Power Devolution is an important matter and many look forward to a radical amendment in order for the country to return to a proper federation.
He added that “While it is our considered opinion, that some of the current functions and powers of the Federal Government can easily be transferred to states, it must be gradual.
We are also equally aware of the demands for additional states creation, but we are strongly of the view that, such move for now would not be in the overall interest of our country and the citizenry”.
When the Federal Government cedes certain functions/powers, states can begin to re-strategize and plan for self sustenance rather than using 90% of federal allocation to pay salaries and leaving behind virtually very little for capital works, especially in a situation where IGR is very low.
“In addressing the issue of power devolution to states, LG we must be
willing and ready to go at it all the way. Just as pressure is put on the Federal Government to cede certain functions/powers to states.
“It has been advocated at various fora that at least 35% allotment be set aside for women in all state matters and activities.
“It is important to underscore the point that any nation that ignores almost 50% of its population by leaving them out of its governance structure and affairs is doomed to stagnation and will remain undeveloped , he explained .
There must be Local Government autonomy in the full sense of its meaning .”
Other issues they raised was that Traditional Institutions must be revered, accorded very specific constitutional roles as they constitute a very important segment of the society because they play a significant role in the maintenance of peace and security.
“Any provision that limits their role to simply advisory, must be made away with, and have them clearly perform specific roles that will complement the state in the maintenance of peace, harmony,security and peaceful co-existence within their various domains and in the nation at large.
He raised the issue of Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security Architecture, which they said the provision of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended regarding this, need to be reviewed in order to enhance professionalism, efficiency and optimal performance.
According to them:”Towards this end, the Constitution Review Committee should initiate a dialogue with very many prominent retired security/intelligence experts in the country, and surely their experience and worldwide expertise would very much add value.
“Judicial reforms are essential in ensuring an enduring, united and prosperous nation. This must be carried out urgently in view of the rapidly changing environment not only in the country but globally and technology wise.
Again, like Police and Security reforms, your committee should initiate a dialogue with key critical stakeholders both serving and retired on how best to go about this. Of course, it is absolutely essential for the Constitution Review Committee to emphatically insist on full autonomy of the Judiciary at all levels, such that it operates as truly an independent arm of the government with clear constitutional mandate.
“In order to promote unity in our diverse country, the provisions of the constitution should be such that, Nigerians should be entitled to live happily and peacefully in any part of the Country as they may so wish and desire. Furthermore, provisions should be made such that any Nigerian living in any part of the Country after some specified period of time can opt to become an indigene of any particular state that he resides in and should be so accepted. Failing this, he can seek redress in a court of law.