Rep. Benson To LG Chairs: With Autonomy, It is Now Your Duty To Construct Link Roads

-As Aderibigbe, former Assembly candidate supports FG on LG financial autonomy, elections

Kunle Adelabu

Rep. Babajimi Benson

The Chairman, Federal House of Representatives Committee on Defense, representing the Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Rep. Babajimi Benson, at the weekend told council chairmen that they would be responsible for the construction of inner roads within their localities once the local government autonomy is granted.

The federal government had last month filed a suit at the Supreme Court against the 36 state governments, seeking the enforcement of full autonomy of the local governments in Nigeria.

There are 774 local government areas in the country, which have not been properly funded and managed due to the control of their funding, especially allocations from the Federation Account, by the state governors.

The governors in various states usually retain allocation collected on behalf of the LGs in joint accounts and only release monies to them based on their own discretion. In Lagos State for instance, the state government also go as far as collecting some of the Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) meant for the councils.

Rep. Benson, speaking at the commissioning of roads that he facilitated there construction at Ori Okuta community in lkorodu West Local Council Development Area (LCDA), said that the council bosses will, henceforth, be responsible for the construction of roads in their domains once President Bola Tinubu succeeds in granting them autonomy.

He made the remarks following a request by Baale of Ori Okuta, Chief Murisiku Alowonle Jaiyesinmi, that the lawmaker should assist in the construction of the road on which his house is situated, which he said is in a deplorable state.

“That road that you mentioned will be done by the Chairman, Ikorodu West LCDA, Hon. Sulaimon Kazeem Olanrewaju and not me. This is because our President (President Bola Tinubu) is planning to give local government councils autonomy and on this, the FG has taking states to court”, Rep. Benson said.

“The Local Government Authorities have autonomy and full powers as the third tier of government”, he added.

Meanwhile, Hon. Razaq Aderibigbe (ARA), former NNPP candidate for the lkorodu Constituency l seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly in the last general elections, and a public analyst, in a chat with THE IMPACT recently, described the FG’s step against the state governments as a means of correcting the anomalies in the 1999 Constitution and encourage developments in the grassroots governance.

“The Federal Government’s recent decision to sue the 36 State Governors, underscores a critical and longstanding issue in Nigeria’s federal structure – the autonomy of Local Government Areas (LGAs). This move acknowledges the inherent shortcomings of the 1999 Constitution in providing clear and effective autonomy for LGAs, which is a necessary step toward fostering good governance and effective service delivery at the grassroots level”, he said.

“The current constitutional framework, particularly Sections 7 and 162, has allowed state governments to exercise disproportionate control over local governments. This control often manifests in the arbitrary dissolution of elected councils, imposition of caretaker committees, and misuse of the State Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA). These practices undermine the intended independence of local governments, leading to inefficiencies, corruption, and a lack of accountability and transparency.

“I commend the Federal Government for taking decisive action to address these issues. This lawsuit represents a bold step towards restructuring our federal system to ensure that LGAs can function as truly autonomous entities, capable of delivering essential services to the citizens they are meant to serve. It also reflects a commitment to upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and accountability within our governance structures”, he said.

The public analyst also said that his expectation is that the suit against the state government would bring about reforms in the constitution and make the LGs more financially buoyant and responsible.

He also threw his weight behind the scraping of the state electoral commissions, stating that this would bring about improvement in democratic system in the local government administration.

“Moving forward, I expect that this legal action will lead to meaningful constitutional reforms. These reforms should aim to: Increase Fiscal and Administrative Autonomy: Ensure that LGAs have control over their finances and administrative functions to enhance their effectiveness and efficiency with strengthened Financial Management, Inclusiveness and Citizen Participation, Capacity building while ensuring transparency and integrity”, he said.

“Furthermore, I support the proposal to transfer the functions and powers of the State Independent Electoral Commission to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This would help eliminate the undue influence of state governors over local government elections, thereby, promote more democratic and fair electoral processes at the local level”, he added.

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