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Reps promise to pass LG autonomy bill

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The Chairman, House Committee on Special Duties, Tukuru  Ibrahim, on Tuesday assured Nigerians that the House of Representatives would pass the local government autonomy bill.

He, however,  expressed concern if the state Houses of Assembly would allow the bill to see the light of the day.

Speaking at the annual conference of functionaries and key actors in local government administration in Abuja,  Ibrahim said the local government was too important to be neglected.

He noted that in public administration, the local government is the most important being the closest to the people.

Ibrahim said, “The local government, in my opinion, is the most important in public administration and because it is the closest to the grassroots of the people.

“But unfortunately, that arm of government has been starved and it has been left for dead, which in my opinion is the  cause of almost all the problems we have in this country.

“If the local government cannot service the people, then it is hard for states and federal government to reach the people.

“There are a lot of challenges– political interference. The local government cannot function without the interference of state government which is very discouraging.

“Also, we have a lack of funding. The opinion of the House of Representatives is that local government should be free.

“We want to abolish over dependence of local government on state government.

“I bring the message of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.

“He has asked me to assure you that the 10th Assembly is going to make sure that the local government autonomy bill is passed. The main issue is if it is going to be passed by the State Houses of Assembly. It is a collective task.”

Speaking,  the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Zaphaniah Jisalo, who presented the ministry’s strategic roadmap noted that the local government would be given a pride of place to reduce poverty and entrench good governance.

He said, “In Nigeria, local government administration has undergone a long and complex journey which includes: Pre-Independence, Colonial Era, Post-Independence but it was in1976 that Local Government Reforms introduced elected local councils, emphasizing the importance of grassroots governance.

“However, subsequent military regimes and constitutional changes led to various setbacks.

“These setbacks include but are not limited to financial autonomy, corruption, political interference, and lack of capacity among local officials.

“The resultant effect is a disconnect between the government and the governed at the grassroots level, hindering development and service delivery.

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