As the National Assembly moves to amend the 1999 Constitution, the nation has been advised to jettison the idea of granting autonomy that makes the local government a federating unit but instead, in the context of their relationship with the states where they are domicile.
The view, expressed by the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, in his keynote address Tuesday, at a national discourse with the theme: ‘Local Government Authority: How Autonomous?’ organised by CMC Connect and O’Ken Ventures at the MUSON Centre, Lagos.
Aregbesola, who was also supported by other prominent discussants, drew inference from the federal systems in the United States, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
He said: “Autonomy only makes sense in the relationship between the states and the centre.”
The governor maintained that in a true federal system, there is no provision for local government as a federating partner.
“To talk of one is to engage in peddling federalism fallacy.” Aregbesola added.
He maintained that the urgent need was to change the current federal structure in Nigeria which had been described as a creation of the military.
The governor also lampooned the federal government for arrogating so much power to itself, especially the 51 per cent of the federal allocation it receives without corresponding development across the country.
Similarly, a constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, described the current federal structure as it pertains to the local government as an aberration.
“The question of having autonomous local governments is out of it. Listing of local governments in the constitution is peculiarly a Nigerian problem. The involvement of the National Assembly in a local government creation is wrong,” he said.
While making reference to section (7) of the Nigeria’s constitution, Sagay maintained that issues of local government creation and maintenance is a responsibility of the state and that where this is altered, it is no longer a federal system.
“Every state should decide how many local governments it wants to create and fund them. The idea of a federation account is a problem. Why do we have to share from one account and still say we are a federation?
He also blamed the anomalies in the system on the people making laws for the country whom he said have some form of “insecurity in their thinking,” arguing that in a true federal system, the states are free to create and use the local government as it wishes.
“In a true federal system, the state can adopt parliamentary system; the local government can even have sub-local government within the system. The straight jacket system is not the best,” he bemoaned.