Dogara: Effective Local Government System Panacea for Rising Public Discontent

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• Reiterates support for financial autonomy for state legislatures, area councils
James Emejo in Abuja


The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday said the increasing level of public discontent and disenchantment could only be addressed with an effective local government system.
Speaking at a consultative meeting for building consensus among the conference of Speakers, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and leaders of thought on local government and state Houses of Assembly autonomy, he also called for financial autonomy for state legislatures and local councils.
He said: “Indeed, financial autonomy for the state legislatures is one of the most important ingredients for good governance at the state level.”

According to him: “The amendment exercise could not have come at a better time than now that there is a loud and deafening call across the nation for restructuring and deepening our democratic systems and processes.
“As leaders, we must use every opportunity to find ways of strengthening Nigeria’s unity through effective governance and delivery of public goods and services that will lead to an improvement in the livelihoods of the average Nigerian. If we can make the local government system work effectively, most of the discontentment and disenchantment among the rural population and the generality of Nigerians will be greatly reduced.

“The Constitution amendment process provides an opportunity for the National Assembly in collaboration with the state legislatures to enhance our governance architecture, strengthen our democratic institutions, entrench equity and social justice in our polity and most importantly put Nigeria on the part of greatness that Nigerians crave for.”

The Speaker said in the last aborted constitution alteration exercise in the 7th assembly, all the state Houses of Assembly had voted to support autonomy for the state assemblies, having learnt from the bitter experience of the second alteration bill where the state Houses of Assembly on their own turned down autonomy for state assemblies.
He said there was need for continuous dialogue and consensus building in democratic governance as it offers a platform for thorny and divergent views to be discussed, harmonised and addressed amicably.
He said: “Democracy in practice, is a process through which government actors and citizens’ representatives continuously dialogue constructively in order to build harmony and consensus on critical and competing issues and interests,” he said, adding that “consultation is a very critical element of any democracy because it provides a platform for thorny and divergent views to be discussed, harmonised and addressed amicably.