FG wants state electoral bodies scrapped — Nigeria — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

The Federal Government on Monday called for the scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commissions, accusing governors of using the electoral bodies to impose leaders at the local government levels through sham elections.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, made the call at a one-day ‘Discourse on National Nigeria’s Security Challenges and Good Governance At the Local Government Levels” organised by the House of Representatives in Abuja on Monday.

He said governors have latched on to the inadequacies and lacunas in some sections of the 1999 Constitution to undermine and render local governments redundant.

According to him, rather than function as a tier of government, LGAs have been operating as an appendage of the State governments in Nigeria.

The minister said due to the flaws in the electoral process in the country, “what is obtained is a virtual selection and not election of local government functionaries, stressing that local government chairmen are always imposed on the people by the State Governors.-

He argued that the imposed chairman would be accountable only to the governor rather than the people often resulting to lack of transparency and non-involvement of the citizens.

He also called for a robust constitutional amendment that will remove all encumbrances hindering the development of local governments and their ability to fulfill their constitutionally recognized functions.

He said, “To achieve this, many experts have proposed that there is need for the scrapping of the state independent electoral commission.

“Their functions and powers should be transferred to the independent national electoral commission because the state independent electoral commission remain an appendage to every incumbent governor. This is perceived as the root cause of the problem of local government administration in Nigeria.”

Fagbemi observed that the constitutional provisions on State Joint Local Government Account (section 162 (5-8)) have placed the local government councils in a political bondage.

This, according to him, erodes the three elements of good governance at the local government level, which are citizens’ participation, transparency and accountability.

The minister said: “In all these unwholesome abuses, Sections 7 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution among others have been an escape route for many State Governments to manipulate the Local government and reduce same to a mere department in the Governors’ office. State joint local government account (SJLGA) has been the anti-development instrument used to frustrate every progressive and patriotic action to make the Local Government work since the return of the Country to democracy in 1999

“In spite of the constitutional provisions that were meant to safeguard local governments’ autonomy, there have been cases of arbitrary dissolution, abolition or fragmentation of local governments by the higher tiers of government, particularly the State Govts.

“The provision of the constitution under section 162 (5-8) on State Joint Local Government Account, which empowered the state Assemblies to decide the revenue to their local government facilitated state encroachment on local revenues. Cases of State hijacking of local government revenues abound from 1999 to date.

“In consequence of these weak constitutional provisions, the lifespan of the local government councils is at the mercy of the State governments. There is no consistent pattern of local government elections. Some State Governors dissolved their Councils and appoint Caretaker Committees.

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