Bauchi State Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mohammed Alhassan, has decried calls by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, for the scrapping of local government councils from the Nigerian Constitution, saying that such a development would increase the level of poverty in the country.
Alhassan spoke against the backdrop of calls by the governors on the National Assembly not to grant autonomy to the councils while amending the 1999 Constitution.
However, the NBA Chairman, yesterday, in Bauchi, faulted the position of the NGF, insisting that the 774 councils in the country should be granted autonomy to ensure grassroots development.
He said: “The state governors are kicking against the autonomy of the local government councils in their respective states because they are serving their interests. If the local government councils in the country are scrapped, what would now be left would be the governors and the central power, which is the Federal Government.”
’’From the trend of events in the country, you will observe that the governors have been competing with Mr President on issues that affect them personally in their respective states. It has come to a stage where, if the governors do not approve of anything in the country, they will oppose and definitely succeed in frustrating such things because all the powers of the constitution have been taken over by them.
“The source of the power of the governors lies in the finances of the state. The Governors consider the finances of their states as their own personal estate or empire and that is why they can do whatever they want. They can give the local government council s whatever allocations they feel like because they determine the directions of capital projects. The local governments do not have budgets; it is what the Governors decide that will be done.”
He then maintained that the local government structure as envisaged in the constitution including direct allocation of resources to the local councils; the way the framers of the constitution intended it to be, should be implemented 100 per cent.