(Participants during the reflection session facilitated by PERL-ECP in Kaduna)
Local government autonomy was put at the front burner as critical stakeholders in democracy met in Kaduna to brainstorm on the way forward after several denial by lawmakers at states level.
A non-governmental organisation, Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL-ECP) had facilitated a one-day reflection session on governance and service delivery held at a hotel in Kaduna on Wednesday, August 28, targeted at media executives, publishers and reporters as key information drivers.
The objective of the reflection session was to remind and update the knowledge of the media practitioners so that they can set agenda for the public ahead of 2019 general elections.
Following the extensive deliberation by a coalition of civil society organizations, professional bodies, media, government and donor partners, it was agreed that, the campaign on local government autonomy should be intensified until it happens.
In a remark, Representative of Friends of Democracy in Kaduna State, Mallam Suleiman Gora expressed worry over refusal by many States Houses of Assembly to vote in favour of the autonomy saying, despite the huge amount of money the country has sunk in constitution amendment since 1999, the section that treat local government autonomy has been difficult to scale through due to interest of the governors.
Overtime, many political analysts believed that, many of the governors see the local government as their cash cow, hence attempt to influence their lawmakers to drop or vote against the autonomy.
According to Gora, the State/LG joint account too was a big mistake as it pave way for governors to dip their hands into LGs monies thereby rendering the third tier of government useless especially after sharing the federal allocation and little IGR they have.
The local government remains the surest tier through which an average Nigerian can feel the impact of democracy because it is the closest. This however, has been taken away from the people by governors and some of the lawmakers who are mere toothless bull dogs .
To this end, it is high time, electorate set agenda for anybody that may want to represent them in 2019. Constituents for example, can ask their prospective representatives to sign an undertaking before the election and use same to engage them thenafter.