SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has decried a situation whereby governors constitute themselves as intermediaries so as to continue to hijack funds meant for the councils in the name of joint account. While describing such act as evil, Dogara reiterated the resolve of the National Assembly to grant financial autonomy to the 774 local government councils in the country. Speaking in an interview with reporters in Abuja, the Speaker noted that lack of elections at the local government level was crippling democracy and denying the much needed development at the third tier of government. Dogara assured that the House under
his leadership was also in the process of granting financial autonomy to the 36 state Houses of Assembly. He stressed that it was an aberration and illegal for the continuous existence of caretaker committees in the affairs of local government councils, revealing that clauses might be introduced in the constitution amendment bill that would not only outlaw caretaker committees, but would also stop allocation of funds from the federation account to local governments. The Speaker also hinted that in order to end the illegality perpetrated by state governments, the parliament would consider abolishing States Independent Electoral Commissions, SIECs, thereby empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to take over
their functions. “As a matter of fact, joint account is one of the biggest evils because it gives the authority to local government ministries in the state. In most states, especially in the north where we don’t have oil, the Ministry of Local Government in the state is regarded as the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. “We all know when funds are allocated to the councils but instead of getting to the councils, they are hijacked at that level and appropriated according to the whims of the powers that be,” Dogara stated. He also called on the media, civil society organisations and well meaning Nigerians to be vigilant and ensure that the proposed amendments were endorsed by at least 24 out of the 36 state assemblies by mounting pressure on them and the governors.

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