Friday, 16 September 2016

BUHARI BACKS LG AUTONOMY


President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said his administration would support constitutional amendment to free local governments from the stranglehold of states and better the lot of Nigerians at the community level.

Receiving the leadership of the Association of Local Governments in Nigeria, ALGON, at the Presidential Villa, Buhari said constitutional amendment was urgently required to clearly define the relationship among the three tiers of government.

A statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Buhari described the frosty relationship between states and local government as a serious constitutional problem.

“The relationship between the three tiers of government is not a very nice one, especially that between the local governments and the states.

“The states feel like they own the local governments, if they are of the same party. It is worse if they are not.

“This is a very serious constitutional problem and unless there is absolute clarity and transparency, the relationship will continue to be exploited against the interest of the ordinary people of the country,” the President said.

He advised ALGON executives to hold consultations with their people and lawyers with a view to presenting a bill that would seek constitutional amendment to free the councils from the stranglehold of the states.

“This will limit the damage they can do to you. The quicker you do this the better, so that you can help your people much more,” the President said.

Buhari acknowledged the request by ALGON for the release of $3.2bn wrongfully deducted by the Federal Government for the final settlement of foreign debts in 2005.

Supported by Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, the President said the government recognised the judgment debt, but the timing of the request for its repayment was wrong, given the current economic situation in the country.

In his remarks, acting ALGON National President, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Karaye, presented a six-point demand to the President which included the repayment of the $3.2bn debt and the need to ensure the sovereignty of local government administration in the country.

The ALGON leaders expressed their full support for the President’s programmes on improving security, anti-corruption campaign and economic revival.

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