In a rare show of solidarity, the two factions of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, temporarily put aside their year-long differences, yesterday, to fight against the National Assembly proposal granting autonomy to the country’s local governments.
The two factions, led by Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Jonah Jang of Plateau State, in separate reactions said the autonomy proposal for the local government system was out of sync with the operation of a federal system.
The two houses of the National Assembly had adopted the proposal for autonomy for the local governments as the third tier of government in the federation. The move which has been received with joy among some stakeholders in the local government system was, however, opposed by the two factions of the NGF.
The Jang-led faction of the NGF walked out from the mainstream faction led by Governor Amaechi after supporters of Jang disputed the outcome of the election which returned Amaechi as chairman of the governors’ association last year.
Reacting to the decision of the National Assembly to grant autonomy to the local governments, the Amaechi-led faction speaking through its Director-General, Asishana Okauru, affirmed that the body would not change its opposition on the issue of autonomy for local governments.
Speaking in a telephone interview he said: ‘The NGF does not support autonomy for local governments. The governors are against it, they have said it and still maintain that they will not support autonomy for local governments.
‘There is no country in the world that there are three federating units; there are only two all over the world. Why should you say that there must be a third federating unit in Nigeria?’
According to him, chairman of the forum, Governor Amaechi aside making a similar call last year, had at a session with journalists recently said that the governors would continue to push against granting autonomy for the 774 local governments in the country.
In an unusual concord with the Amaechi-led forum, the Jang-led NGF in a statement by its secretary, Earl Osaro Onaiwu, said: ‘The NGF under the leadership of Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State has differed with the NASS over the move to amend the constitution and grant local governments full administrative and financial autonomy.’
The governors in the statement accused some members of the National Assembly of using the conference committee to force through an amendment that was clearly rejected by the Senate during the constitution amendment debates and votes.
Onaiwu in the statement quoted the governors as saying that ‘it was improper in an issue of this magnitude for the conference committee to overturn the position of a majority in the upper house.
‘The push for local government autonomy by the National Assembly was hasty without first considering the problems of executive recklessness and ineffective administration at the local level.’
The governors thus warned that ‘the amendment will lead to the hijack of some local government administrative structures by a few powerful individuals without the oversight the state government currently provides.’
The forum, however, expressed confidence that the amendment will be rejected by a majority of the states houses of assembly. - Vanguard.
By Edos News