LG FUNDS: OBJ Slams State Govts

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Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has called for the review of the local government laws to check among others, the excesses of the states against the third tier of government.

He declared that such step would stop the alleged claim that some states “ambushing” the council funds, pointing out that it was unconstitutional for states to deduct council funds.

Obasanjo made this submission when the National Executives of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) led by its National President, Mr. Nwabueze Okafor, paid him a courtesy visit at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital, southwest Nigeria, during the weekend.

Obasanjo, whose tenure as Head of State brought about the promulgation of local government administration in 1976, lamented that the essence of creating the crucial third tier of government has been defeated.

According to him, “when we made the reform nationally, we said the local government is the third tier of government in Nigeria. This is because the local government is the closest government to the people. Unfortunately, more states were created and people started asking for local governments in their back yards. The military succumbed and what we have now is that the councils could not deliver,” he lamented.

According to him, “if the local governments are to perform, they must be ready to endure and be sustained. I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the state governments  to withhold the local government funds  or even ask them to pay as you all know. And that is what is happening in most of the states and that is not the reason  local government areas were created.”

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Baba Iyabo, as the former president is fondly called, wondered why the Federal Government could not tamper with the state governments’ fund, “ while they withhold the money allocated to  their local government areas without recourse to the legislature and appropriation process. The local government should be given their money,” Obasanjo asserted.

He, therefore, suggested that “Since the National Assembly is considering constitution amendment, it is also important to amend the local government laws so that there would be no means the states will ‘ambush’ the local government money and there will also be ways we can call the local government to order or make them accountable.”

The National President of ALGON had earlier said that Obasanjo remains the father of local government administration having spearheaded the 1976 Local Government reforms.

He also said that, “this was again manifested in the creation of ALGON in 1999 when you were democratically elected as a civilian president. During your tenure, a lot happened and since you handed over, we have been slaves in the hands of the state governments. We have come to you to lend voice to the problem of the local governments in the country.”

—Abiodun Onafuye/Abeokuta