28 February 2013

Nigeria: 'No Law Empowers Govs to Divert LG Funds'

Issues of abrogation of State joint Local Government account so that allocation due to the local government would be paid to them directly, creation of additional state, amendment to make the immunity provision for the president, vice president, governor and deputy governor to cover only civil proceeding while in office and other issues dominated the debate by Nigerians in UK yesterday as parts of their contribution to the ongoing constitution amendment process.

During the heat debate that characterised the discussion, there was near agreement by most contributors that there is no law in Nigeria that empowers governors to steal or divert funds met for local government administration.

They said that there was the urgent need for financial independence and transparency for LGA funds to encourage responsible women and men to participate in the affairs of the LGA.

The forum was organised by the Royal Institute of International Affairs otherwise known as CHATHAM HOUSE with financial support from British High Commission, Nigeria, to enable Nigerians in UK to make their input to the constitution amendment in Nigeria.

The forum moderated by Dr. Robin Niblett, the chair of CHATHAM HOUSE, was attended by the deputy speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Senate Committee Chairman on Public Account, Senator Ahmed Lawan, Deputy House Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, Chairman of House Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Debiri - Erewa, Hon. Garba Datti and representatives of different professional groups in UK.

The debate at the forum held at the CHATHAM HOUSE, central London, was robust and at the end the participants voted overwhelmingly for financial independence for local government council administration, true independent electoral commission to guarantee credible elections, financial autonomy for state houses of assembly, more involvement of women in elective positions and right by Nigerians living outside Nigeria to vote during elections.

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