THE issue of local government autonomy has been a controversial topic in Nigeria since the commencement of the process of amending the 1999 constitution by the National Assembly. The governors’ forum is stoutly opposed to any move to grant autonomy to local governments insisting that they are an integral part of state governments. Beyond that Nigerians are divided on the issue. While some say it is going to speed up development in the country, others believe it will worsen the corruption in the country. Below are the views of some Nigerians on the issue.
Grace Ali, Teacher: The issue of autonomy is not the problem. Corruption is our biggest challenge. Giving local governments autonomy without eliminating corruption will not bring about the desired development. So let us leave the issue of autonomy and fight corruption.
Austine Okechukwu, Pastor: Yes. It is better for them to have autonomy in order to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people. I strongly believe that their autonomy will bring about even development in the country. It will bring government nearer to the people in the rural areas.
Idris Abdul, Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Lokoja, Kogi State: Local government autonomy is not negotiable. The autonomy will end the illegality perpetuated by state governors. For example, in Kogi state, the tenure of local government chairmen expired since 2010 but the governor has postponed elections into local government councils for three consecutive times. He has appointed liaison officer 1 and 2 for each of the 21 local government councils contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution.
Ayodele Olorunfemi, Travel Consultant: I don’t support it. The people we have at the local government level are crooks and uneducated. These people don’t even know what local government is all about. If they are not monitored, they will do worse.
Christopher Okoro, Politician: No. First of all, we have to ask ourselves this question. Do we need local government autonomy in this country? The answer is no because those in authorities in the local governments are products of the state governors. If you give them autonomy, it will be a continuation of the corruption going on in the local government system. They will misuse it as they are doing to the allocations given to them by state governments.
Basil Okagu, Teacher: Yes. Our local governments need autonomy. To me, if giving local governments autonomy will be the only thing this administration can achieve, I believe people will be happy with it.
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu
— Feb. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT