Scrapping States, LGs Accounts’ll Hinder Devt, Federalism —ACN

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Aug 17, 2011 No Comments ›› ACN (ji)

The Action Congress of Nigeria has advised President Goodluck Jonathan to jettison his proposed constitutional amendment aimed at scrapping the existing States/Local Government Joint Accounts.

The party argued in a statement on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that scrapping the accounts and allocating the LGs’ share of the Federation Account directly to them would amount to making the councils federating units.

It warned that allowing the councils to wear the toga of federating units could stifle development and deal a further blow to the nation’s wobbling federalism.

The ACN said the argument that deductions from the council funds by the states had led to a lack of development at the grass roots did not warrant an amendment to the constitution that would fundamentally alter the nation’s federalism in the negative sense.

The answer for the lack of development at the grass roots, according to the ACN, is not to allocate funds directly to the LGs but to publish, as it is being done already, whatever is allocated to them.

It added that relevant government agencies should also be made to be on the alert in order to monitor the disbursement of funds from the States/LG.

The party said allocating money directly to council chairmen would not translate into more development, as they (chairmen) would be subjected to pressure from local or grass roots leaders, who don’t have such access to state governors.

Commenting further on the amendment being proposed by the President, the ACN said under the 1999 constitution, the federal and state governments were the federating units, while LGs were mere administrative units of the states.

It said, “Making LGs federating units (as being proposed by the constitution amendment) will further strengthen the Federal Government and weaken all other units, thereby pushing Nigeria towards centralisation or unitary governance.

“Nigeria’s inability to develop at the desired pace is due to over-centralisation brought about by the extended era of military rule.’’

ACN also warned that the proposed constitutional amendment would defeat the essence of federalism, which assumes relative autonomy and coordinate status among federating units.

“‘With almost 80 states and LGs associating with one federal government, the characteristics of federalism will be lost,’’ the party added.

Listing other problems that could manifest in the proposed constitution amendment, it said, “Power sharing among three tiers of government (instead of two) would introduce unnecessary confusion in the legislative, executive and judicial arms of government, and precipitate jurisdictional conflicts, especially at the state and councils levels, leading to poor service delivery.

It said, “while it is easy to distinguish functions that are usually left for states from those that should be implemented in common with the center (like defence, international relations, currency, citizenship, aviation, customs, immigration), it would be very difficult to neatly sub-divide existing state functions between states on the one hand and local governments on the other.”

The Punch

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