Former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has said granting local governments autonomy would bring governance closer to the people, thereby reducing spate of agitation in the country.
Atiku who was speaking at a workshop on Building Consensus amongst the Conference of Speakers, NULGE, NASS and ALGON on Local Government and State Houses of Assembly autonomy, also said there should be a fixed tenure for local government chairmen, condemning the practice where a governor can decide to dissolve them at will.
Represented by a professor of Constitutional Law, Maxwell Gidado, the former VP said the system of local government should be constituted in such a way that would reflect a truly tripartite level of government in the constitution.
According to him, section 162(6) of the constitution should be amended to abolish state joint local government account to attain full financial autonomy.
Atiku said that revenue from the federation account should not be allocated to the unelected local government councils in Nigeria so as to serve as deterrent to others.
"In respect of unelected local government councils, it is illegal and unconstitutional to allocate revenue to them. The constitution should make specific provisions in respect to tenure of local government councils and the process of their election, removal, dissolution commensurate with what is obtainable for office of president and the governors.
"Section 7 of the constitution be amended to give local governments the full status of a third tier of government. The local government budget process should be strictly vested in the executive and legislative arms of the local government as is the case with other tiers," he said.
The representative of Department for International Development (DFID), Mr. Chris Okeke, said the UK government is also supporting reforms and service delivery at the local government level through the Mobilisation for Development (M4F) programme as well as engaging the National Assembly through the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).