The All Progressives Congress has said its governors are not against autonomy for local governments, as reported in a section of the media on Thursday, describing such reports as a gross misrepresentation of the governors’ position on the issue.
In a statement issued in Oro, Kwara State on Thursday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the governors are only asking that such autonomy must be determined by the State Houses of Assembly, rather than the National Assembly.
The statement by Mohammed said: “For those who may have been misled by the media reports, we want to state our stand clearly. In the first instance, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives the State Houses of Assembly the power to create local governments. Therefore, autonomy for local governments should be debated at the Houses of Assembly, not at the National Assembly.
“Secondly, giving control of the local governments to the federal government, one of the two federating units in a federalist system of government, will only result in the creation of a unitary government.
“And thirdly, all local government administration must be democratically elected in a free and fair election, while Chairmen and Councillors must be accountable to those who elected them.
“We are a welfarist party and we believe in accountability and abhor any system where any local government administration is not elected freely and fairly. The appointment of caretaker committees to run local governments is an aberration. This is our stand and it definitely does not represent an opposition to autonomy for local governments.”
The party said instead of creating more problems by giving the National Assembly the power to regulate local governments, ways must be found to resolve existing problems for the smooth running of local governments.
The party added: “Let us ensure that local government elections are free, fair and credible; let us ensure that Chairmen and Councillors are accountable. Let us stop the appointment of caretaker committees to run local governments because this is undemocratic. Let the State Houses of Assembly which have the powers to create local governments also be able to determine the issue of autonomy
“Also to be looked into are the areas of responsibility of the local governments. Currently, they have the same list of responsibilities, even though their areas of priority differ. But the truth is that local governments should have different areas of responsibility. While some may want to place emphasis on agriculture, some may prefer environment by virtue of their topography.
“On the belief that some state governments appropriate funds meant for local governments, the cure is not for the federal government to give money directly to the local governments, but for states and local governments to agree on how to ensure a judicious expenditure of local government funds. The partnership between states and local governments is very important for the overall welfare of the common man.”