Delegates at the National Conference yesterday overwhelmingly called for the abrogation of the states and local government’s Joint Account because of what they termed excessive abuse by state governments.
Accordingly to the delegates, the local government council is the cradle of development because the administration at that level is not closer to the people but should have a direct bearing to the people and ensures grassroots governance.
The delegates, who cut across the different political callings, argued that because of excessive abuses by respective state governments, local governments have been subsumed, thereby rendering them mere appendages and ineffectual.
Former Governor Adamu Aliero said he was uncomfortable in 2004 when the Federal Government introduced the joint account policy, noting that it gave birth to the prevailing situation today where funds meant for the local councils are siphoned by the states with impunity.
“It was okay when we started in 1999, because then the local government drew funds directly from the federal account. It meant funds went directly to the local councils for them to carry out development projects.
“But the moment the joint account was introduced things went asunder. I was uncomfortable because I knew that some governors would abuse the provisions and I have been proved right,” he said noting that the joint account has simply been used to fleece the councils of needed funds for development.
Another delegate, a former deputy governor of Benue state in Second Republic, Alhaji Iyaji Sule, said local government autonomy is inevitable if the governance must be brought closer to the grassroots and indeed access to the essential developmental projects given to the people.
“Yes, autonomy to the local council can’t be toyed with. It must be a constitutional matter. We must stop the present abuse of the local government councils by state governments which through the joint account have diverted funds meant for the councils to purposes far removed from the objectives that the funds in the first instance were provided,” he said noting though that the quality of personnel at the local councils may also have constituted a problem.
A delegate, retired Gen. A.B. Mamman, had, during his contribution to the President’s inaugural speech, said one of the greatest hindrances to development in the country is the abuse of the local government autonomy and therefore, called on the conference to make recommendation that will strengthen the local government’s legal authority and control of their allotted funds.