22 January 2013

Nigeria: Govs Opposing LG Autonomy to Divert More Funds - Reps

Chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon Zakari Mohammed has said that there was no going back on amending the constitution to grant local government autonomy as part of efforts to free it from the grip of state governors who divert local government allocation for personal use.

This comes as the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) accused the governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, of diverting state funds to finance his political ambition in 2015.

Zakari made the statement in a press statement reacting to a recent media interview granted by the governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso describing certain actions of the lawmakers as a waste of time and resources, among other issues.

"Our attention has been drawn to a recent media interview where the governor of Kano State,Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso gave a lot of misleading conceptions about the 7th House of Representatives' stand on local government autonomy, independence of the state legislature and constituency projects, among so many other issues".

"Mr Kwankwaso should realise that the current unitary federalism that is being propagated by him and his colleagues is responsible for the high number of anti graft cases against governors on corruption. Why is he afraid of the legislature being independent in the state? The recent outburst is seriously calling to question the integrity of a lot of men who masquerade themselves as state chief executives. A lot of state assemblies are an extension of the state executive council,where speakers and the house leadership permanently go cap in hand to the governors for their needs. If the state legislature is independent as it is being proposed, it would give our teeming electorates a voice, not the situation that keeps the governors as emperors of their various enclave."

He stated that the governors do not support the amendment because it will put a stop to their siphoning of resources meant for the development of local government areas. He stressed that their action as lawmakers was based on the request of the majority of their constituents during the recent public sessions held across the country.

"The issue of local government autonomy as far as Nigerians are concerned is long overdue. Arising from our people public session as true representatives of the people, our constituents do not agree with the current status where local government funds are being pilfered by governors, including Governor Kwankwaso, at the expense of the people and chairmen who are seen as mere boys for the job. I challenge the Kano State governor to tell people of his state and Nigerians how these funds are managed in Kano since he came to office."

"We would certainly not accept a situation where governors turn themselves to demi gods in the name of joint account. It is only in Nigeria that an elected governor of a state would speak to the media frontally eroding democratic ideals of which he is a beneficiary. It is saddening to note that local government elections have not been held in some states since 1999,wondering what sort of government states are running".

"Just recently, a governor's wife, who has no constitutional powers, via a memo from her office sacked an elected councillor. Although this has since been reversed, it shows how Mr Kwankwaso and his cohorts play with our collective common wealth".

The spokesman of the green chamber also clarified the issue of constituency projects mentioned by the governor, saying that they are enshrined in the budget and only their location is suggested by honourable members while the projects execution, funding and all other biding processes are done by the various MDAs.

"We don't handle contracts, nor cash, but in the said interview the Kano State governor erroneously referred to the projects as drain pipes. These monies being spent to improve the lives of our teeming populace is not up to the ones he and his co-travelers squander in the name of security votes, or where do governors get funds to massage their flamboyant lifestyles of flying private jets for themselves and their family members? As a former NASS member, minister and governor, Kwankwaso should realise that a man who lives in glass should not throw stones."

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