Local Government elections in Nigeria a mockery of democracy – Dogara

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has described the conduct of local government elections in Nigeria as a shame and mockery of democracy. Dogara, in a meeting with senior journalists in Abuja said the current system is not working. “If we keep sticking to it and expecting it to work someday, I don’t know who termed it as the very definition of foolishness.”

He said the local government elections have benefitted only those who constituted themselves into middlemen to grab the resources meant for the development of the grassroots.

The speaker accused the state electoral commissions of promoting a mockery of democracy by organizing elections where only one political party wins by sweeping all the votes.

He posited that as long as the resources appropriated to local government are mismanaged by a powerful few, so long would it remain the bane of development in Nigeria. If local governments are able to achieve autonomy, Dogara believes it will improve the pool of quality leadership that will manage the resources at that level more efficiently and at the end of the day, “we can have an oasis of prosperity in the desert of nothingness and instead of all our people migrating to the cities, they will be able to find some kind of prosperity at the local level that can sustain them.’’

He disclosed that repeated efforts to grant autonomy to local governments through constitutional reviews have remained a mirage because of vested interests. Reacting to the fresh constitutional effort to free the third tier government, he said, “If care is not taken, it will still not scale through. It will take a general resolve from Nigerians, the media, civil society organisations, local government staff to insist on their state assemblies that when the bill is submitted to them, they must pass it.”

He cited the example of value added tax (VAT), where the Federal Government benefits only 15 per cent while 85 per cent go to the states and local governments where the bulk of this fund is believed to be diverted and misappropriated.

Meanwhile, Dogara has assured pensioners that the House of Representatives will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to work out a definite plan to offset outstanding pension liabilities which currently stands at over N200 billion.

He also disclosed that the House will today consider a motion to invite key players in charge of pension matters to appear in plenary next week Thursday and speak on how they plan to clear the pension liabilities.

He spoke when he received a delegation from the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, led by its national president, Dr. Abel Afolayan. The Speaker emphasised that all pensions due to retired public service workers must be paid because it is a constitutionally provided right.

 

Source: The Guardian

Supreme Court Strips Governors of Power to Sack Local Government Officials

A ruling by the Supreme Court has made it impossible for State Governors to ever sack or dissolve democratically-elected local government councils.

 

The Supreme Court on Friday stripped Governors of the power to sack local government chairmen. It described it as “executive recklessness” to rampantly dissolve democratically-elected local government councils in their states and replacing them with caretaker committees.

 

The apex court ruled that the provisions of the laws enacted by the states’ Houses of Assembly empowering governors to carry out such dissolution and replace them with caretaker committees was null and void.

 

This was the decision reached by a five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour on Friday.

 

The appeal in which the Supreme Court made the pronouncements arose from the dissolution of 16 local government councils in Ekiti State by the then Governor Kayode Fayemi.

 

Fayemi, who is now the Minister of Mineral Resources, was said to have announced the dissolution of the councils in a radio announcement on October 29, 2010, when the chairmen still had up till December 19, 2011, to complete their three-year tenure.

 

But in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Chima Nweze, the apex court condemned the decision of the then governor.

 

The apex court adopted an earlier order made by the Court of Appeal on the case in its judgment delivered on January 23, 2013, directing the Ekiti State Government to compute and pay all the allowances and salaries accruable to members of the dissolved councils between October 29, 2010 and December 19, 2011, both dates inclusive.

Deputy Speaker Decries Lack of Activity In Plateau LGs

The Deputy Speaker, Plateau House of Assembly, Mr Yusuf Gagdi, has decried what he called “lack of activity” in the state’s 17 local government areas.

This, he said, had worsened the plight of people in the rural areas.

“The House of Assembly makes laws for the local governments and approves funds for their activities, but we have not seen any improvement in the areas,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Wednesday.

He said that the situation was telling on the welfare of the rural poor because the local government councils were statutorily expected to provide most of the basic needs of the poor.

“It is the business of the local governments to promote hygiene and primary health care; they are also supposed to provide markets, feeder roads and culverts.

“But if you get to any local government now, you are going to find that even common medicine in the rural clinics must have been supplied by the state government.

“You will also find that potholes are being fixed by the state, which also provide refuse bins.

“ So, you keep wondering what the local governments are doing as the tier that is supposed to be the closest to the grassroots,” he said.

He said that the House had resolved to send its committee to all local governments to verify what was going on.

Gagdi wondered why the management committee chairmen of the local governments had not been able to deliver and vowed to tackle those found wanting.

NAN reports that three months into his administration, Gov. Simon Lalong had dissolved the elected council executives and appointed management committees to steer their affairs.

Gagdi, in his assessment, alleged that none had executed any meaningful projects and programmes that would impact on the people at the grassroots.

According to him, between 80 and 90 per cent of on-going projects at the local government tier were being carried out by the state government.

He said that many local governments secretariats were eyesores, having been taken over by weeds, while structures and vehicles were dilapidated.

The deputy speaker wondered what the management committees were doing with the “ huge monies , especially the Value Added Tax (VAT) released to them over time.’’

“The VAT monies should particularly be accounted for because it is solely for development,” he said.

 

 

(NAN)

Wife, Daughter Of Local Government Chairman Kidnapped

Gunmen believed to be kidnappers allegedly adopted the wife and daughter of the chairman of Aniocha South Local Government Area in Delta State.

Confirming the report, the acting state police command spokesman, Mr Charles Muka, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), said that the victims were whisked away after the criminals stormed the Agidisei Ogwashi-Uku residence of the local council chairman, Mr Isaac Anwuzia at about 7.30 am on Monday.

Muka, who gave the name of the wife of the council boss as 32-year old Favour Ifeoma and her daughter, Goodness Anwuzia aged three years, said that the invaders took the victims away in “a Toyota Corolla car parked in the compound and drove to an unknown destination.”

The police spokesman, however, said that the police on receiving the distress call gave the criminals a hot chase, forcing them to abandon the victims.

Two of the suspected kidnappers were eventually arrested after fleeing into the bush, he disclosed.

Credit: ThisDay