James Emejo in Abuja
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, has said the federal government will use constitutional means to terminate the controversial State/Local Government Joint Accounts (SLGJA) because it has been widely being abused.
Speaking at a national summit on local government administration organised by SEGNIP Promotions Limited and the Department of State and Local Government Affairs, Office of the SGF, he said some state governments used their control of the SLGJA to starve local government areas of their statutory allocations, leading to calls for fiscal autonomy for the councils.
According to him, local government areas need to have full access to their funds in order to provide basic services to the populace at the grassroots.
Mustapha said: “After so many ruinous years of our recent past, we certainly cannot live with the continued mismanagement of public funds (joint account) any longer.
“Most of us know too well the dangers and consequences of this sustained degradation of our local government system, which manifest in increased wave of crimes and social maladies like terrorism, kidnapping, cultism, neighbourhood gangs, human trafficking, baby factories, dilapidated primary schools and primary health facilities, influx of youths to urban centres and pernicious rural poverty, which have dovetailed into various dimensions, agitations, and unrests.
“More so, it is uncanny that most of us fail to see the connection between moribund local governments and Boko Haram insurgency, for instance.
“Suffice to say that no ‘baby factory’ or incidence of kidnapping would find space where local government councilors are fully involved in governance and work with landlords associations and town unions.”
Represented by the Director Special, Duties, OSGF, Mr. David Attah, the SGF said no state showed example by devising a system that made the local governments work or gave proper account of the local government funds.
“All of us, directly, or tangentially, are exposed to the impact of local government administration daily,” he said, adding that mismanagement and maladministration at this level of governance would connote impacting negatively on the people with direct implication for banishing a large number of the population to abject poverty and penury.
He added that with the recent enactment of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Act and the new local government administration account reporting system, President Buhari’s administration has shown the willingness of the government to improve the level of enforcement of anti graft regulations in the country.