This Day (Lagos)

24 December 2012

Nigeria: Adeyemi - Govs Bent On Derailing Constitution Review

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Senator Smart Adeyemi, at the weekend, hinted that some state governors had concluded plans to derail the ongoing constitutional review process because of the autonomy of local governments.

Adeyemi warned that denying local governments from administering their revenue allocation from the Federal Government because of their parochial and primordial interests was unconstitutional.

According to him, most state governors sit on local government allocation, adding that they sit on resources meant for grassroots development.

He said: "They siphon these monies to the point that local governments today cannot even pay salaries. Some local governments cannot even construct a culvert and if we ask the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the governors and I wish President Goodluck Jonathan, can do that, to investigate all the governors that are tempering with local government allocations, I bet you two-third of these governors will go to jail."

Addressing National Assembly Correspondents, Adeyemi said the issue was that some state governors were only interested in the budget allocation and resources of the local government.

He said: "The issue is when they collect the allocation the governors preside over the allocation, they just give the local government some small monies to keep them. Some local government cannot pay salaries but because the state is indebted that they divert money from local government.

"And you want to amend the constitution they say no and the only way you improve the standard of living of an average Nigerian first and foremost is start from the local government, because that is the closest governance to the people, but the governors are saying no," he said.

The Senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, averred that most of the governors were more or less emperors of modern Nigeria, adding that they were only interested in building their empires.

He said: "Until when in Nigeria, the people and Civil Societies Organisations (CSOs), rise against the kind of governors that we have, then standard of living will not improve. These governors are not performing, majority of them are tired, some of them are worse than Hitler. How can a governor say local government should not be autonomous? I mean how anyone can be against the autonomy of an arm of government that the constitution recognises."

Adeyemi stressed that it would be difficult to amend the constitution that would guarantee more powers and autonomy to local governments because state Houses of Assembly were under the whims and caprices of the governors.

The lawmaker added: "If you have governors who are progressives, the constitution amendment will be successful and I can tell you that the governors will not allow the constitution amendment to be successful, they will derail it. The fundamental aspect of the constitutional amendment is the autonomy of the local government, if you cannot get the autonomy of the local government to be autonomy of the state then you can rest assured that there wouldn't be development.

"The standard of living of the people will be static, but the governors are already saying that they don't want it, how can one individual determine the freedom of a whole state. It is for the media and the CSOs to rise against the governors to allow the people to have their freedom."

On why true federalism will be difficult to achieve, he said: "And that is why we cannot have true federalism will l system of here in Nigeria because the states were created on the basis of ensuring true federalism.

"In a federal system, when you are creating states you take into considerations, norms values history cultures and that is why in the United States of America, the states are not equal, but in Nigeria, were these states created in consideration of the fundamental requirement of the creation of the creation in a federal system of government, it is not true."

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