Obasanjo Blames States For Local Governments’ Plights | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Obasanjo Blames States For Local Governments’ Plights

Posted: Jun 23, 2016 at 6:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Laide Raheem

Abeokuta – Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday condemned what he termed encroachment by the state governments on the local governments thereby preventing them from performing their responsibilities as enshrined in the constitution.

Obasanjo who also dubbed the state governments as ‘usurpers and hijackers’, noted that local government that was supposed to be the third tier of government and the nearest to the grassroots, has been rendered impotent by the state governments.

The former president stated this when he spoke when the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) led by Comrade Ibraheem Khaleel,  its national president, paid him a courtesy call at his Presidential Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital.

Obasanjo said prior to the Local Government Reform of 1977 when he was the Head of State, local government system lacked structure and was not drawing money from the federation account, hence the need for a restructure and constitutional ground to enable local government system function maximally.

He, however, expressed his disappointment in the state governments, which have taken over the duties and functions of local councils in the country.

“In 1976, we carried out local government reform because local governments had no structure as well as allocation from the national purse.

“Sadly, the state authorities, without any exception, have bastardised, usurped and hijacked the duties of local governments. Local governments are supposed to be a functional third tier of government; they are supposed to be run by democratically elected executive and legislative members, but the states have usurped that functions by putting in place caretaker committees.

“How will the states feel if the Federal Government is doing the same thing they are doing to the local governments? Because it is unconstitutional, Federal Government will never do that and I wonder why the states are making the local governments non-functional,” the ex-president said.

Obasanjo, who said he lacked the executive power to correct the anomaly, however, urged  lawmakers both at the federal and state levels to observe the sanctity and constitutionality of local governments in the country.

He added, “We should continue to call on Nigerians and relevant authorities to cajole the state governments to allow LGs to perform their duties as stipulated by the constitution”.

Earlier, NULGE national president pleaded with the former president to intervene in the parlous situation if local governments in the country.

Comrade Khaleel who described the current condition of LGs in Nigeria as pathetic due to the erosion of local council functions by the state governments added “local governments are totally impotent today in Nigeria.”

He said, “We are here to seek the intervention of former President Obasanjo on the issues beleaguering local governments in Nigeria today. You know Baba is the architect of local government system in Nigeria.

“State governments have encroached on what is exclusive to local governments and this had defeated the main purpose they were established for. State governments conduct elections into LGs at will while fund meant for local councils is being diverted to state coffers.

“Though President Muhammadu Buhari promised to ensure the autonomy for local governments but up till now, nothing has been done to address the anomaly. This is why we seek for Baba’s help in this regard.”