Chief Rochas Okorocha
The chairmen of local government areas in the country yesterday said they have resolved to canvass for financial autonomy for the third tier of government in the on-going constitution amendment process.
The chairmen at end of the meeting held in Abuja under the auspices of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), called on the Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okoroacha, to abide by the judgment of the Appeal Court and ensure that the 27 local council chairmen are restored to office with all the outstanding statutory allocations due to them.
In a communique read out by the National President of ALGON, Ozo Nwabueze Okafor, the chairmen resolved to fight on for the financial and administrative autonomy of the local councils.
“ALGON NEC came up with resolutions that the issues relating to the autonomy of local government administration should not be subject of negotiation.
“We believe that local councils are about the most viable platforms to relate to the grassroots and bring development to the people of Nigeria.
“We have resolved to continue to pursue the financial and administrative autonomy of the local government system in Nigeria,” he said.
In the communique, ALGON said it will also fight to ensure that elections are conducted in those local government areas where there are no elected executives.
He listed states that have so far compiled with constitutional provision by conducting local government elections to include, Enugu, Lagos, Akwa Ibom.
While insisting that ALGON will fight to see to the implementation section 7 on the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which provided for a democratically-elected council executives.
He appealed to governors to make haste and conduct elections for their local councils.
According to Okafor, anything other than a democratically-elected authorities in the local councils will amount to an infraction of the country’s constitution.
He said the body will encourage states to continue to support local governments authorities in their areas as it is through this avenue that development can reach the grassroots.
Okafor also expressed concern of ALGON over the face-off btw Imo state Government and the chairmen of the 27 LGAs.
He said the association is urging the Imo State government to urgent steps arrest the near anarchy looming in the state by releasing accumulated funds belonging to these local councils so that they can be used for development purposes which has been stagnated since the conflict started.
“NEC also expressed concern that the issues relating the face-off between the government of Imo State and the local council chairmen has become a festering one and one that is casting a serious flaw on democracy in Nigeria.”