Senate Laments Over Misappropriation of LG Funds

The Senate has accused state governors of misappropriating cash allotted to local government councils in Nigeria, stating that the country’s branch of government was dead.

It also stated that the hope of accomplishing the goals of the local government system has run into hard realities, as successive governments have frequently weakened local autonomy, limiting their financial resources and decision-making power.

As a result, the Red Chamber requested that the federal government halt additional funding allocations to caretaker committee-led local government areas (LGAs) and urged President Bola Tinubu to urgently advocate the cause of full autonomy for local governments in the country. Senator Suleiman Kawu, NNPP, Kano South, sponsored a motion that resulted in Senate resolutions. 

The Senate agreed that President Tinubu should support the cause of full autonomy for local governmentsx across the country.

Presenting the motion, Senator Kawu said, among others: “The Senate notes that in the tapestry of Nigeria’s governance system, local governments are meant to be threads weaving development close to the ground.

“Envisioned as the closest tier of administration to the people, they hold the potential to address local needs directly and shape communities from inside out. But the story of Nigeria’s local government system is one of promise and paradox, woven with threads of hope and frustration;

“Also notes that the journey began in 1976 with local government reform, aiming to decentralize power and empower communities.

“Envisioned as self-governing entities with elected officials, local governments handled critical aspects of community life – primary education, healthcare, sanitation, local infrastructure and community security. It was a dream of grassroots democracy, where decisions were made closer to the people they impacted.

“Aware that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, when he served as governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007, demonstrated sincere passion for the autonomy of the local governments in Lagos State. This can be grasped when he purportedly established 37 LCDAs within LGAs in Lagos State and introduced reforms to strengthen them.

“Also aware that the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, when he served as the governor of Akwa-Ibom Stated from 2007 to 2015, implemented various initiatives to improve service delivery at the local level, such as rehabilitating infrastructure, investing in healthcare and education, and launching poverty alleviation programmes, as well as deducting 10% of the IGR to LGAs which informed ground breaking achievements by LGA in Akwa-Ibom State local government administration.’

“Also worried that some governors play a crucial role in frustrating local government autonomy in Nigeria via constitutional alteration processes.’’

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, APC, Abia North, a former governor of Abia State, admitted that councillors had the capacity to give minor contracts in the past but lamented the current lack of local government. 

He stated that local government monies must be restored 100% to local councils, together with improvements in the capacity of those operating the councils.

Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North, who highlighted that local governments must be effective and guaranteed by the constitution, stated: “I urge that we find a way of improving the capacity of those who run the local government system, because I believe this requires devolution of powers.”

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