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States Should Decide Fate Of LGAs, List Should Be Deleted From Constitution — Afenifere Faults FG’s Autonomy Suit

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, has called for the deletion of Local Government Areas (LGAs) from the Nigerian constitution, as a solution to the controversies surrounding the LG autonomy.

In a communiqué released after a special meeting of its national caucus on Tuesday, Afenifere faulted the suit initiated by the Federal Government seeking full autonomy for the country’s 774 LGAs.

At the meeting held at the Lagos residence of Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of the group, organisation said the LGA autonomy suit is a “clear demonstration of lack of political will to restructure” the country by the Federal Government.

The socio-cultural group said the reliefs sought by the Federal Government will amount to nothing if section 162(6) of the 1999 constitution is not amended.

Section 162(6) of the 1999 constitution states: “Each state shall maintain a special account to be called the State Joint Local Government Account, into which shall be paid all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State.”

The group said it believes that the business of LGAs should be for federating units, noting that listing LGAs in the constitution is “antithetical to the principles of federalism.”

The communique read: “That the federal government also knows that its prayer for ‘an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary, and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected LG leaders’ is neither recondite nor without precedent as the apex court will only be blowing familiar mute trumpet, having so ordered for the umpteenth time at the suits of council chairmen and councillors to no avail.

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“That as true as the payer of the piper dictates the tune, council officials know that they hold their offices only at the pleasure of governors and party leaders in a selection through the so-called State Independent Electoral Commissions and thus are bereft of legitimacy to defend nonexistent mandate to resist dissolution.

“The prayer of the federal government for a declaration ‘that the constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, states and local governments as three tiers of government and that the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution’ is against established tenet of federalism which recognises the central government and federating units as the only two tiers and indeed inconsistent with Section 2(2) of the same constitution which provides that ‘Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory’.

“Afenifere believes that local government is the business of the federating units and thus the listing and enshrinement in the constitution of the 744 local councils arbitrarily created by the military is antithetical to the principles of federalism which is the negotiated founding covenants of the Nigerian state.

“Afenifere recognises several irreconcilable sections in the Nigerian constitution which are antithetical to the principles of federalism as the foundational covenant of the nation and democratic practices.

“Afenifere insists that the only solution to this staggering injustice is to delete the list of local governments in the constitution and allow states to have their local governments as recommended by the 2014 National Conference and the 2018 el-Rufai Committee on Federalism as part of the holistic restructuring of the Nigerian Federation.”

In May, the federal government filed a suit at the supreme court against the governors of 36 states.

In the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, the federal government is seeking full autonomy for the country’s 774 LGAs.

The Federal Government is also asking for an order preventing the Governors from arbitrarily dissolving democratically elected councils.

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via: Information Nigeria

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