Govs should determine how local councils run –Fayemi

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Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, has stated that there is no part of the constitution that says the local governments are the third tier of the federal system of government that the country operates.

Fayemi argued that the current federal structure only recognises the federal and state governments.

He also denied that governors frustrate the local governments by spending their statutory allocations.

He noted that the state government, headed by a governor, should be at liberty to determine how local councils in the state are operated.

The governor stated this on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

When asked why state governments and governors are stifling the local governments, Fayemi said, “I am a student of Political Science, so allow me to always return to the basic principles. Today in Nigeria, the local government is not a tier of government; it is an administrative vehicle for delivering on what the citizens within those jurisdictions would like to see.

“Federalism is a two-tier system: you have the Federal Government and you have the state government. The state government should be at liberty, in my view, to determine the number of administrative units they want to have within their geographic space in order to know how effective they would be. You have some states where what is most effective is the town’s union.”

He added, “If you go to the south-eastern part of this country, people discover that towns’ unions are much more accountable. People will not steal money belonging to a town’s union because the penalties are severe if it happens. But they don’t have a problem stealing money that comes from an unknown government known as federal, state or local government.

“So, if the government of Anambra State, for example, feels that it wants to have 200 autonomous community governments, because that is what would be more accountable to them, then so be it. That is what this principle should be about. However, this notion of force-feeding the local government…”

When asked if he was sure that federalism is two-tier according to the Constitution, Fayemi insisted, “That is what is represented in the Constitution. Local governments actually make their resources via the states. It is in our Constitution.”

When reminded that local government had always been known as the third tier of government, the governor stated, “You can check this out, whether what I am telling you is correct or not. In the current Constitution amendment process going on, one of the clauses that the National Assembly has just passed, that they want to go into the Constitution, is the recognition of the local government as a third tier of government.”

Fayemi added, “If it is the existing provision, there would be no need for that amendment to be put forward by the National Assembly. But it has been put forward now and it will go through the process in the 36 state (Houses of) Assemblies, we would see whether it passes that test of constitutional scrutiny or not.

“I do not know of any governor – and I stand to be corrected; I am the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum; I talk to my colleagues and I look at the books – I am not aware of any governor that dips his hands into local governments’ treasury and takes their money. I have been governor…this is my eight year as Governor of Ekiti State; I have never done anything to illegally remove or take any money that does not belong to the state.”

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