NULGE lauds FG on LG’s autonomy
… it’s unconstitutional- Titiloye
By Mary Agidi
The decision of the federal government to grant financial autonomy to the local government areas without the interference of the state government has been described as a good development.
The President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Comrade Bola Taiwo said this in an interview with The Hope.
According to him, the decision of the Federal government will make LG revenue not to be tampered with by state governments.
The NULGE President however commended the current administration in Ondo state for giving the local government administrations 100% liberty to operate.
He therefore suggested that a technical committee be set up by the local government employees to be supervised by the Federal Allocation Committee for the operation of the new development in order to solve some challenges that would arise as a result of the decision.
According to him, if JAAC is scrapped and local government authorities now received fund directly from the federation account, the payment of primary school teachers’ salary and pension deduction will be affected.
He explained that payment of primary school teachers is being paid by both the state and local government authorities, and expressed concern that if adequate measure is not put in place to sort this out, there may be a problem.
In his reaction, a constitutional lawyer in Akure, Mr. Charles Titiloye described the development as unconstitutional
According to him, unless the Nigerian constitution is amended, Federal government cannot legally fund Local Government directly without the state government involvement.
He justified his position because Local Government is under the supervision of the state in the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
His words: “Section 7(1) of the Constitution provides as follows: ” the state government shall by law provide for establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of Local Government Councils in the State.
“The Constitution recognised two federating Units: Federal and state Government.
Interference by Federal Government in the constitutional power of the state to regulate and fund its local government will further compound the problem of over centralization of power and fund at the centre, Abuja at the expense of federating units, the state.
Titiloye stated that in order to check the interference of states Governors as alleged by FG, the proper step is to insist on democratic Local Government structures indissoluble by the states save by order of Courts of competent Jurisdiction.
In addition, he said local government should be run transparently with monthly publication of appropriation of received allocation, if FG insists on granting local government financial autonomy.
“To replace the supervisory rights of state over local government with Federal Government is to change the country from Federal system to UNITARY SYSTEM of direct orders from the centre alone.
“Local Government can be strengthened and made independent but should not be subjected to direct supervision by FG. The only two items where states have exclusive rights in our constitution are matters relating to the Local Government and Chieftaincy.
“To take this items from states under the Constitution will further weaken the state as a federating unit and increase the desperate scramble and struggle to control the centre (FG). This will ultimately concentrate more fund in the hands of FG.
“We cannot replace an alleged state tyranny on LG(s) with a total Federal Government domination of the Politics and economy of the nation. Component Units like states should be allowed to continue to determine the structures and finances of LG under it and grow at its own pace.
Listing of LG in the Constitution should be removed to allow states to create LGs. FG has more than enough function under 1999 Constitution”, he said.