We’ll Strengthen LGAs To Tackle Insecurity – Tinubu

Emery

President Bola Tinubu has reiterated his administration‘s commitment to strengthening the country’s 774 local government areas to give the ongoing war against insecurity more impetus.

Tinubu made the commitment at the “National Dialogue on Nigeria‘s Security Challenges and Good Governance at the Local Government Level”, organised by the House of Representatives in Abuja, yesterday.

Represented by the minister of defence, Mohammed Abubakar, the president said the challenges of insecurity which have persisted for a long time, posed a threat to safety and welfare of the country.

He lamented the scourge of insurgency, terrorism, banditry, and other forms of criminality which have inflicted untold suffering on the people and undermined collective peace as well as prosperity of the country.

Tinubu said local governments were the frontline defenders against insecurity, as they are closest to the people and repository of intimate knowledge of their communities needs and challenges.

„It is imperative that we confront those challenges head on, if we are to move forward in our journey towards development. „It is in light of the foregoing that our administration is committed to implementing measures aimed at bolstering the local government system.

“This commitment is deeply rooted in our bottom up development approach; recognising that sustainable development, national security and prosperity can only be achieved when every level of government functions effectively and accountably.

“We must realise that the local government system is not just a matter of administrative convenience. It is a cornerstone of our national security architecture by empowering local governments to fulfill their mandate if efficiently and ethically we create a solid foundation for ensuring safety, stability and well being of Nigerians.

“The local governments being the closest government to the people are strategically positioned in promoting human security by delivering essential services like health, education, sanitation and social welfare programs directly to communities where they are most needed.

“They are important in ensuring that our communities are safe, prosperous and resilient. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to strengthen our local government system to effectively address those challenges. By empowering local government authority with the necessary resources and capacities to implement sustainable development initiative,“ he noted.

On his part, the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), attributed the failure of the local government areas in the country to weak constitutional provisions and hamstringing of state governors.

According to Fagbemi, the 1999 Nigerian constitution made the local governments more dependent on the state governments by the virtue of section 7 (1) which has seriously affected the level of performance of local government.

The legal luminary said the dependence on state governments, guaranteed under the Constitution, has been a significant factor, leading to the general failure of local government as well as an excuse for suspending representative institution.

He said, in spite of the constitutional provisions that were meant to safeguard local governments’ autonomy, there have been cases of arbitrary dissolution, abolition or fragmentation of local governments by the higher tiers of government, particularly the state governments.

Fagbemi noted that the provision of the constitution under section 162 (5-8) on State Joint Local Government Account, which empowered the state Assemblies to decide the revenue to their local government facilitated state encroachment on local revenues, saying cases of state hijacking of local government revenues abound from 1999 to date.

He said the failure of the constitution to articulate a clear line of authorities to both the state and local authorities and the continuing debate over the involvement of state governments in distributing local government allocation from the Federation Account has affected the capacity of LGAs to provide essential services at the grassroots.

The attorney-general said, constitutional amendment was imperative before a new system of local government administration can be instituted while there should be increased fiscal and administrative autonomy of local government system to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency, amongst others.

Similarly, speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Abbas Tajudeen lamented the failure of the 9th Assembly‘s Alteration Bill, which, among other things, proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution to grant financial independence to local governments due to the inability to meet the required two-thirds as most states voted against it.

Abbas said the 10th National Assembly was determined and committed to ensuring local governments are recognised and sufficiently empowered to perform their constitutionally assigned roles.

 

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