June 15, 2024

Constitutional Ambiguities May Mar Proposed Financial Autonomy For Local Governments – Ade Dosumu

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Dr.Ade Dosumu, former NIMASA DG and Public policy Expert

Constitutional Ambiguities May Mar Proposed Financial Autonomy For Local Governments – Ade Dosumu

By Jerry Aguigbo

The proposed financial and administrative autonomy for Local Governments in Nigeria has been received with accolades, some of the proponents see it as long overdue, others say it is the best thing to happen to Local Government administration in the country.

A staunch supporter of the financial autonomy is the former Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency, (NIMASA) and Public policy Expert, Dr. Ade Dosumu. He however believes that for this to fully materialize and the positive effect felt at the Local Government level, the ambiguity a Section a some sections of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which also assigned roles to the State government and the State Assemblies and other ambiguities in some clauses must be removed.

In his view, the proposal by the Federal Government to grant full Autonomy to the local governments in Nigeria is a welcome development and long overdue. His words: I commend the Federal government whose Attorney General Of The Federation, Lateef Fagbemi SAN has approached the Supreme Court to pursue this landmark initiative. There is no doubt that our Democratic journey has been very slow due to lack of Autonomy for the third tier of government as practised in other Democratic climes.”

Dosumu however prodded, “The office of the Attorney General of the Federation should however, bear in mind the ambiguity in the 4th schedule and section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which recognised local governments as the third tier of government but also in a contradictory manner gives some functions to State Government and Houses of Assembly with regards to Local Government Administration. This and other contradictory clauses need to be amended to reflect the complete financial and Administrative autonomy as it’s been operated in other federal system.”

He commended the leadership of president Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR for this bold step and urge him to go all out to break this jinx by removing the clog in the wheel of our development and progress. According to him, “You can imagine the impact that will be created if 774 local governments are independent and free from the apron spring of the state governments. Nigerians will immediately start enjoying the dividends of democracy directly across the country in all the 774 Local Governments and also have a say in determining the Political leadership at their Local Governments. The fact that every Nigerian lives in a local Government underscores the strategic importance of granting full autonomy to the Local Governments. The benefit of this initiative is huge and should be supported by all well-meaning Nigerians,” he enthused.

He added,”The important benefit of this initiative is that it will attract more quality personalities to take part in the running of Local Governments and reduce the emphasis on the State and Federal Governments thereby widening the space for political inclusiveness. This will invariably reduce the burden on Federal and State Governments allowing them to focus on broader policy issues.

Other benefits of Local Governments autonomy includes the power to govern and make decisions independently which can lead to efficient service delivery, it will also foster transparency and accountability as Local Governments will be responsible for their decisions, finances and actions leading to better governance. It will strengthen our democratic institutions by ensuring a more equitable distribution of power and resources. Finally, Local Governments being the closest to the people are in a better position to understand the needs of their community and provide same.”

In summary, Dosumu says, “granting full autonomy to local governments in Nigeria will lead to better governance, increased citizens participation, improved service delivery, and accelerate development at the grassroots level. This is no doubt the way to go in our determination to achieve good governance and development.”

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