Lagos assembly mulls extending tenure of council chairmen

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EROMOSELE EBHOMELE

The Lagos State House may soon begin the debate on a bill seeking to extend the tenure of council chairmen in the state from three to four years if the current agitation by politicians and stakeholders metamorphoses into reality.

Sources within the House told P.M. NEWS last night that the lawmakers were currently considering a “proposal” that may eventually become a bill if things work out well in favour of tenure elongation for the council chairmen most of whom had complained that three years is not enough to meet their targeted contributions to development.

“Yes, we have the proposal before us. It is just a proposal yet but may become a bill after looking at it critically,” a lawmaker confided in P.M. NEWS.

Four of the council chairmen in the state also confirmed to P.M. NEWS last night that they had made the presentation to the House and that they were optimistic that a bill on tenure elongation would soon be considered by the House.

Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Lagos Speaker
Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Lagos Speaker

According to one of them, “the 57 council chairmen have seen the need to support tenure extension. This is a legitimate pursuit and you know we are in a state that believes in doing things right and leading other states.

“For now, we are keeping the move low because of the opposition parties in the state which takes advantage of every situation to attack us.”

One of the council chairmen agreed that in most cases, after their mandatory three years, the same chairmen are appointed to manage the council till another election holds, but said what they want now is for the extra one year to be added so as not to make them appointees anymore.

As it is in Nigeria, the 774 local council areas do not have a uniform tenure system and the number of years the council chairmen spend depends on the state electoral laws. Therefore while some states have a two-year tenure system for council chairmen, some have three.

In some cases, the state governors usurp the laws by refusing to conduct council elections and instead appointing caretaker chairmen who they could fire at any time.

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Lagos state operates a three-year renewable tenure system, but the challenge, according to some of the lawmakers who spoke with P.M. NEWS on the issue, is that after the three years, caretaker chairmen are appointed to manage the councils pending when new chairmen are elected.

“This is where the problem sets in. Many of us who are in support of tenure elongation feel it is illegal to appoint people to political seats which are supposed to be occupied through election,” one of the lawmakers told our correspondent.

Another lawmaker explained that the consideration by those who support the move within the House is for the law to establish a four-year renewable term as it is with the position of the governor and the president.

“You know that just as the governor and presidents are heads in the capacities, the council chairman is also a head and a part of what makes the three tiers of government.

“Therefore, if the other two could be given four years, nothing stops us from making the council chairmen enjoy same number of years,” the lawmaker and chairman of a committee of the House explained.

He said the House may begin to discuss the bill very soon so as to get it passed before the expiration of the tenure of the current council chairmen in the state.

Chairman, House Committee on Information, Security and Strategy, Olusegun Olulade, also confirmed that there was agitation in some quarters for tenure elongation for the council chairmen.

“There is no official information as to a ready bill at the House now as against speculations, but for sometime now, there had been agitation for tenure extension in favour of the council chairmen.

“If there is a bill to that effect, it must be made public by the House and debated thoroughly before it becomes law,” he said.