In his inaugural speech, on May 29, 2015, President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) did not hide his displeasure with the way and manner local governments funds are being mismanaged by some state governors in Nigeria.
Here is the excerpt of the speech with respect to local government administration in Nigeria: “Elsewhere, relations between Abuja and the States have to be clarified if we are to serve the country better.
Constitutionally, there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments. Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. While the Federal Government cannot interfere in the details of its operations it will ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked.
“As far as the Constitution allows me, I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch”, President Buhari said.
While canvassing for vote as he attempted to become the president of Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON, in the last quarter of 2014, Hon. Micah Jiba, who doubles as the chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, made the issue of ensuring the financial autonomy of local government areas in Nigeria, among other issues, the cardinal objective of his manifesto. Since his election as ALGON President in November 2014, he has not hidden his intention to see through to this his campaign promise.
He has practically thrown the entire arsenal at his disposal to the struggle of actualizing the much desired local government autonomy which all Nigerians are yearning for. Without sounding hyperbolic, Micah Jiba led ALGON effort at ensuring local government autonomy appears to have occupied the centre stage in Nigeria today.
There is no doubt that PMB’s puritanical stance on local government allocation and the issue of corruption in his inaugural speech, which is constitutional, has emboldened the ALGON President in his struggle to ensure that what is due to each and every local government area in Nigeria, including the area councils in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, are given to them, as and when due.
PMB’s position on LGAs funds has also placed a lot of responsibilities on the shoulders of ALGON president as he attempts to rally his colleagues in the 36 states of Nigeria and the FCT to actualize this laudable autonomy that will ensure total development and transformation of the third tier of government in Nigeria.
Already, PMB and Hon. Micah Jiba positions on LGs autonomy have started yielding result. Just recently, the action governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, abolished the state Joint Allocation Committee (JAC), he also promised to make available 10% of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to the local government areas in Kaduna State for grass-root development.
ALGON through its president and secretary welcomed this development in Kaduna State. In a statement jointly signed by Hon. Micah Y. Jiba and Alhaji Shuaibu Yakmut, ALGON describes the action of the Governor as courageous, progressive and exemplary.
In the same vein, ALGON used the opportunity to condemn in strong terms, the unilateral dissolution of some local government councils by some governors in the face of court orders against such decisions.
ALGON however, directs the affected local governments to pursue their legal right to logical conclusion as the Supreme Court had ruled against the unilateral removal of elected officers when their tenure had not expired.
What is expected of ALGON under the Hon. Micah Jiba’s presidency is to come out more vigorously by involving the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in partnership, in an effort at ensuring that local government areas in the country are not willfully dissolved by some governors.
To this end, periodic sensitization of Nigerians on the illegal actions of some governors will be most beneficial. Micah Jiba led ALGON should as a matter of urgency impressed it on the National Assembly, particularly its leadership in both chambers, on the need for a powerful resolution against some illegal action of some governors against local government areas in the country. Since resolutions have the power of law, it will put pressure on our State executives to do what is right on LGA finances.
Jiba’s ALGON should also employ legal instrument to compel some of the state governors that are in the habit of using the excuse that local government areas are under them, to institute kangaroo probe of the management the finances of some LGAs so as to remove them from office; to desist from that act.
ALGON should involve intellectuals in Nigeria as ambassadors in the struggle. There is no doubt that Hon. Micah Jiba led ALGON has done well in the area of local government autonomy advocacy. With more zeal, ALGON can do more in ensuring that the much sought after and cherished development at the local levels in Nigeria becomes a reality. The good aspect of ALGON’s struggle is that it is on the same page with PMB.
Oraetoka writes from Garki-Abuja

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