Progressive govs never opposed LG autonomy - APC

THE All Progressives Congress (APC) has said the communiqué issued by its governors in Lafia, Nasarawa State was misrepresented as the APC governors, according to it, never opposed autonomy for local governments.

APC, in a statement issued in Lagos State by its interim national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the governors only asked that the issue of local government autonomy must be determined by the state Houses of Assembly, rather than the National Assembly.

“For those who may have been misled by the media reports, we want to state our stand clearly. In the first instance, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives the state Houses of Assembly the power to create local governments. Therefore, autonomy for local governments should be debated at the Houses of Assembly, not at the National Assembly,” he stated.

“Secondly, giving control of the local governments to the Federal Government, one of the two federating units in a federalist system of government will only result in the creation of a unitary government.

“And thirdly, all local government administration must be democratically elected in a free and fair election, while chairmen and councillors must be accountable to those who elected them.

“We are after the welfare of our party and we believe in accountability and abhor any system where any local government administration is not elected freely and fairly. The appointment of caretaker committees to run local governments is an aberration. This is our stand and it definitely does not represent an opposition to autonomy for local governments,’’ it stated.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State chapter of the APC has also thrown its weight behind the position of its governors that the country needs true federalism and  proper adjustment in the current lopsided revenue allocation over and above local government autonomy.

The party said it found true credence in the position of the APC governors that the much hyped local government autonomy in the face of the unjust federal structure and a revenue formular that allowed the Federal Government so much resources with little to do was another effort to smuggle unitarism in what is supposed to be a federation.

 In a release signed by the Lagos State interim publicity secretary of the APC, Joe Igbokwe, the party said the veiled attempt to annex the local councils by the federal level in the guise of local government autonomy would deepen the woes of the country, rather than ameliorate it.

It, therefore, called for the urgent application of principles of true federalism and just and proper fiscal allocation that may allow the local governments to function as a true federating unit when its is granted proper autonomy.

 “For us, the demand for local government autonomy in the inchoate and unitary structure we have now is a ruse. It is just a clever way through which the federal level wants to add more power to its already bloated power and weaken the states. We deem this as improper in a country that pretends to run a federation where the federal government  keeps acquiring powers and resources and using it to intimidate and lord over all other levels of government. We believe that the demand and the attendant hype that had been built into it are not patriotic and is aimed at furthering the ends of unitarism and irresponsible acquisition of power which have marred our claim to a federal structure.

 “We dare ask, which power structure and revenue structure will sustain the local government autonomy with what we have at present?  How can local governments be autonomous in a situation where the federal government sits on over 52 per cent of the commonwealth and doles out pittance to the other levels? How can local governments be autonomous when the PDP federal government desires to place them under its thumbprints, dictate who leads them and what it dishes out to them?  Is this in consonant with a truly federal structure? It is not and that is why we salute the clarity the APC governors brought to the issue to show that demanding for local government autonomy in such a chaotic application of federalism as as flawed as putting the cart before the horse.

 “For the avoidance of doubt, the APC is not against local government autonomy but we are insisting that it should not be for the purpose of arming an already bloating federal level with added powers to control the local councils and use it to further the ends of unitary dictatorship which has clearly besmirched our present democratic space and whittled down the benefits Nigerians anticipate to get from democracy. We share the position of the APC governors that for Nigeria to make any significant progress in the present, true federalism and a redistribution of resources through the adjustment of the present unjust revenue allocation formula that allows the federal government control over 52 per cent of our national wealth with no commensurate responsibility to the people, must be carried out. We believe that it is when these have been assured that these in place that local government autonomy will have meaning.

 “Lagos APC therefore congratulates the APC governors on their maiden meeting as a registered party, their forthrightness, candor and clarity in locating and pointing out the problems inherent in the present structure and their desire to lead the quest for amendment. We believe that theirs is a notable course for the recovery of Nigeria from fourteen years of mediocre and corrupt leadership. We urge them to remain firm and steadfast in offering the needed alternative to the present shambolic  state we are saddled with”.

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