BREAKING: Autonomy Of Local Govt Is A Subversion Of Federalism As Governance Template – Prof. Akin Onigbinde

In a federal system of government, the one we pretend to be running, whose operation is heavily skewed against a section of the country, to the extent that successive military leaders of Nigeria from a section of the country (mis) used their power to create local government areas in every hamlet of their section of Nigeria, to the demographics and fiscal advantage of their section of Nigeria, and to the disadvantage of the section which really provide the fiscal resources from where every tier of government goes, cap in hand, to receive, the autonomy of local government areas is a subversion....Read The Full Story Here ▶

And lovers of democracy under a federal system of government should reject it. It is loaded with mischief in political correctness by the federal government.

Under the principle of a federal system of government, whereever it is practised, Regions, Provinces or States are the federating units-the creators of a central authority for the realisation of specific objectives for the mutual benefits of the federating units.
No where are local government areas, the prerogative of their creations, based on administrative convenience, and for assigned roles in governance template of the creating region, province, or state, belongs to a federating unit. Not being a federating unit, a local government area should not be drawing its administrative cost from a federation account of a federal government because, in principle, it is unknown to the central authority as created by the federating units.

It is unfortunate that, whilst we should be putting efforts to repair our battered and bastardised over-extended feudalistic unitary system, in the name of federalism, we are busy dismantling the political architecture of the remnants of a federal system- the authority of the states over the affairs of the local government areas within their respective geopolitical areas, because we know or perceive the governors of stealing funds belonging to local government authorities from the federation accounts.
Thus the governors are accused of sitting on funds allocated to local government authorities under what is known as Joint Accounts System, or something like that, by which arrangement the governors are said to be short-changing the local government areas.The social implication is that our inner roads, and other areas of administration that are deem the responsibility of local government areas continue to suffer from neglect.

Let us, for the sake argument, but without necessarily conceding, agree that in spite of this situation of aberation, of drawing funds from a federation account, when it is not a federating unit, the governors are hindering the development of the local government areas, therefore, getting their funds directly from the distribution source would ensure the realisation of such denied development.The question is, if the governors, as politicians, embezzle local government fund put in their care, what guarantee do we have that chairmen of the local government areas would not do like their fellow politicians, governors, in the states are accused of doing. Should we experience this, are we now to begin another round of agitation that every delineated political Ward/Town/ Vllage in every local government areas should be granted their entitled allocations directly from Nigeria common patrimony- the federation accounts.

Meanwhile, the issue of non- development of our geographical spaces in the local government areas of the state is not so much because state governors are in charge of funds.It is so much the proclivity of politicians across board to care less of the welfare of the people, and care more of their primitive accumulation tendency to steal from the common purse.And chairmen of local government areas are more likely to walk the same lane, so long as their constituents are not self-mobilized to hold them accountable, irrespective of political party affiliation which motivates members and supporters of the ruling party in the state to hold brief for a non-performing governor or local government chairmen- all in the name of loyalty to the party.Thus, the peoples whose funds are being stolen by the governors are no victims of development- deficit, but accomplices in the progression of underdevelopment as we currently experience it in our various local government areas. I speak specifically of my area, where I live, less I am accused of over generalisation. Otherwise, why are we not concerned with the huge funds accruing to the federal government, the custodian of our federation accounts, from where the funds are distributed to states.What is the state of our infrastructures, especially the federal roads, and all other infrastructures, specifically within the sphere of the federal authority, especially the policing and police system that is greatly underfunded, to the extent of impacting negatively on its performance.The reality of our experience is that,in spite of heavy yearly budgetary allocations to the police, the police command in every state is being provisioned for essential service needs by the hosting state.I guess the federal government only pay its staff their monthly salary, as all essential logistics to secure the command are extracted from the state governor.

I would rather suggest, as part of our journey to a restructured system needed to produce for us a federal arrangement, under which every state or geographical zone, assuming we can no longer return to the independence regional arrangement, can flourish to its optimal attainable socio-economic level, we dissolve the existing local government areas, and each state may wish to delineate its self- governing political space into local-governing areas within the context of its demographics, administrative, and available financial resources to fund what number of local government areas it may choose to create.As it is, local government areas have been created by successive military rulers of Northern extraction for the sole objective of receiving funds from federation accounts, made possible from proceeds of oil revenue, and taxes from VAT being derived from the Southern parts of the country. No thought was accorded the viability of the local government areas created.And, because of this indiscriminate creations, area known as Kano state which had 20 local government areas, as Lagos state at inception in 1967, now has 77 local government areas because it has been split into Kano and Taraba states, with the accompanying increased in monthly allocations from the federation accounts of a federal government of which they are no federating units.

The so-called autonomy of local government areas being funded directly from the central purse has serious implications for rural lands in the states over which local government chairmen has authority.I do not see how a local government chairman in our country side, with no means of survival other than federal allocations, can resist any pressure of request for a parcel of land in his/ her domain, for whatever project that may catch the political or personal fancy of a sitting president. I shiver anytime I think of what would have happened to the adjoining parcels of land to communities ancestral rivers in the mad days of RUGA-Buhari pet project to resettle his kinsmen in the guise of resolving the farmers/ herdsmen clashes in the North, if this so-called Local Government autonomy was in place.

The South-West of Yoruba people are not yet out of subjugation of their lands, and this is in spite of the fact that it is their preferred son that is in power.Again, we warn against bigotry of supporting anything being done by anyone, just on account of ‘being one of you’.Today, the president pushing, through the court, what has been resisted severally everytime it has come up as an item on National Assembly legislative agenda may be of Yoruba extraction, and he may mean well for the wellbeing of local government administration.But we should remember what any president from a different geopolitical zone is capable of doing with rural lands. Rural lands were spared of what is possible because there was no legally-justifiable ground to take lands from communities by Mohammadu Buhari.The RUGA is an idea that is much alive in the consciousness of herdsmen in Northern Nigeria.

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