NASS, govs set to clash over LGs BARRING

Showdown: NASS, govs set to clash over LGsBARRING any last-minute intervention, the National Assembly and the governors under the aegis of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) are heading for a showdown over the administration of local governments councils in the country.  Indications of the likely clash of interests emerged last week, following a widely publicised report in whichthe Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, condemned the governors’ mishandling of local governments, especially by illegally appropriating their allocations from the federation account.  Dogara had, in the report, flayed the governors, hinting that they were flouting constitutional provisions and committing an offence for which they could have been impeached if the Houses of Assembly were independent.  Piqued by the speaker’s position, some governors have begun a secret move to mobilise against what they perceived as gang-up by the Federal Government to whittle down their influence.  The secret plot, Sunday Tribune gathered, involves mounting pressure on House of Representatives’ members loyal to their state governors to work against “any plot to circumscribe the state governors’ powers.”  It was also reliably gathered that the plot involves drafting several ranking members of the House with governorship aspiration to “champion the cause” of the state governors, with the governors set to entice them with the promise of backing any of them.  The third leg of the plot, it was gathered,  involves laying ambush to the state Houses of Assembly for whatever amendments “that do not favour the governors,” as 24 state Houses of Assembly need to endorse any amendment to the constitution.  This last leg, it will be recalled, had always proved a potent weapon for state governors who wield influence on the Houses of Assembly due to their financial incapacitation.  Though Dogara pointed out the situation whereby past efforts to free local governments were halted at the level of state Houses of Assembly, noting that efforts were also afoot to ensure financial autonomy for the state lawmakers, Sunday Tribune learnt that the governors might still deploy this weapon on the current effort.  In a veiled response to Dogara’s comments, Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, said that local government councils were absolutely under the control of the states, adding that the only organ of the state empowered by the constitution to make laws for them is the state parliament.  The governor, who described the view that local government councils should be independent as totally strange and anti-federalism, said there were two tiers of government in a federal system of government.  An aide of a South-West governor, who claimed to be speaking for his boss, said as desirable as Dogara’s proposal is, no governor would willingly cede the control of the local governments, which, he said, had been a source of revenue for them.  “It is just a newspaper propaganda. It will not fly because the national lawmakers too know they will also become beneficiaries of the arrangement some day. Do you think they will agree to it?” he asked rhetorically.  One of the governors, who spoke to Sunday Tribune on a condition of anonymity because he didn’t want to be in the ‘president’s bad books,’ given the president’s body language on the local government issue, said many of the governors were prepared to test their strength in fighting for democracy.  “We have read the body language of the National Assembly and the interview by Speaker Dogara and I can tell you that we will be waiting for them. It will be a battle to save democracy and federalism, because states and not the Federal Government should have business with local governments. How can they seek to strip the states naked and without powers by taking the local governments, which are constitutionally supposed to be under the states?” he asked.  Dogara had said that the local government system was not working because the governors did not allow democracy at the third tier of government to thrive, highlighting efforts by the National Assembly to review the constitution so as to free the local governments from the states and ensure that elections into the councils were conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).BARRING any last-minute intervention, the National Assembly and the governors under the aegis of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) are heading for a showdown over the administration of local governments councils in the country.

 

Indications of the likely clash of interests emerged last week, following a widely publicised report in whichthe Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, condemned the governors’ mishandling of local governments, especially by illegally appropriating their allocations from the federation account.

 

Dogara had, in the report, flayed the governors, hinting that they were flouting constitutional provisions and committing an offence for which they could have been impeached if the Houses of Assembly were independent.

 

Piqued by the speaker’s position, some governors have begun a secret move to mobilise against what they perceived as gang-up by the Federal Government to whittle down their influence.

The secret plot, Sunday Tribune gathered, involves mounting pressure on House of Representatives’ members loyal to their state governors to work against “any plot to circumscribe the state governors’ powers.”

It was also reliably gathered that the plot involves drafting several ranking members of the House with governorship aspiration to “champion the cause” of the state governors, with the governors set to entice them with the promise of backing any of them.

The third leg of the plot, it was gathered,  involves laying ambush to the state Houses of Assembly for whatever amendments “that do not favour the governors,” as 24 state Houses of Assembly need to endorse any amendment to the constitution.

This last leg, it will be recalled, had always proved a potent weapon for state governors who wield influence on the Houses of Assembly due to their financial incapacitation.

Though Dogara pointed out the situation whereby past efforts to free local governments were halted at the level of state Houses of Assembly, noting that efforts were also afoot to ensure financial autonomy for the state lawmakers, Sunday Tribune learnt that the governors might still deploy this weapon on the current effort.

In a veiled response to Dogara’s comments, Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, said that local government councils were absolutely under the control of the states, adding that the only organ of the state empowered by the constitution to make laws for them is the state parliament.

The governor, who described the view that local government councils should be independent as totally strange and anti-federalism, said there were two tiers of government in a federal system of government.

An aide of a South-West governor, who claimed to be speaking for his boss, said as desirable as Dogara’s proposal is, no governor would willingly cede the control of the local governments, which, he said, had been a source of revenue for them.

“It is just a newspaper propaganda. It will not fly because the national lawmakers too know they will also become beneficiaries of the arrangement some day. Do you think they will agree to it?” he asked rhetorically.

One of the governors, who spoke to Sunday Tribune on a condition of anonymity because he didn’t want to be in the ‘president’s bad books,’ given the president’s body language on the local government issue, said many of the governors were prepared to test their strength in fighting for democracy.

“We have read the body language of the National Assembly and the interview by Speaker Dogara and I can tell you that we will be waiting for them. It will be a battle to save democracy and federalism, because states and not the Federal Government should have business with local governments. How can they seek to strip the states naked and without powers by taking the local governments, which are constitutionally supposed to be under the states?” he asked.

Dogara had said that the local government system was not working because the governors did not allow democracy at the third tier of government to thrive, highlighting efforts by the National Assembly to review the constitution so as to free the local governments from the states and ensure that elections into the councils were conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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