The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) will on Thursday September 28, 2017 play host to a multi-stakeholder' roundtable to be attended by delegates from across the country on the local government autonomy bill passed by the National Assembly but awaiting concurrence from the 36 States Assemblies. The roundtable which is part of activities in the implementation of the Voice to the people project in partnership with Christian Aid with funding from UKAID is organized as part of advocacy strategy on the ongoing constitutional review process in the country.
A statement by Ms. Victoria Udoh, Programme Co-ordinator of the Centre said the importance of local government to the development of the Nigerian nation cannot be overemphasized. Local government as a third tier of government provides administrative and political leadership at the grassroots as well as providing socio-economic development within the bounds of their jurisdiction.
As it stands today, local governments in Nigeria have been inundated by multifarious issues ranging from the limitations existent in the ground norm of the country-the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that the lower levels of governments have or maintain a joint state-local government account- which directly removes the financial autonomy of LGs.
The numerous problems bedevilling the local government in Nigeria particularly that which relates to their autonomy has been a burning issue amongst critical stakeholders including CSOs, and well-meaning Nigerians.
The current constitutional review process at the National Assembly has made the issue even more attractive to the attention of the general public who have queued behind this LG autonomy issue. Bill 5 and Bill 6 of the National Assembly focused on autonomy for LG have been passed by both chambers awaiting concurrence by the state houses of Assemblies.
This means the hurdle facing the passage into law of the local government autonomy has moved from the NASS to the State Assemblies where at least two third of the state legislatures must pass the bills.
The NASS has resumed from its recess and the transmission of the bills to the State Assemblies is expected shortly. There is the need to commence a process of engaging the relevant stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians whose influence on this issue can hold sway. Apart from these critical stakeholder, the Centre believes that the media is a dependable ally in the process of ensuring that the bills relating to local government autonomy sails through at the State Assemblies review.
The media can queue behind the call for LG autonomy, provide and disseminate information that will not only educate Nigerians on this issue but also those that are saddled with the responsibility of reviewing the constitution at the State level.
She called on CSOs and major stakeholders to massively engage the state Assembly processes, inundate the legislature with relevant information/memoranda, and use formal and informal advocacy strategies to get the bills on local government autonomy passed by two third of State Assemblies in Nigeria