Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has said the National Assembly decided in favour of full administrative and financial autonomy for local government areas in the Constitution amendment Bill to shield them from abuses by state governments and to enhance devolution of powers in the federation.
Speaking while addressing a delegation of parliamentarians from the National Assembly of Kenya on a courtesy visit to the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker said developments in the polity have shown that local governments were subject to abuse and usurpation of their roles and entitlements by state governments and that this practice needs to be corrected.
Ihedioha cited the example of Imo state, where the state governor dissolved duly elected local councils and replaced them with unconstitutional structures, noting that with the proposed amendment, such incident would no longer be allowed. “The House carried out extensive alterations of the Constitution with respect to local governments,” he told the guests, adding that “the House made it a full third-tier of government complete with the structure, finance and its operations imbedded in the Constitution itself”.
He regretted a situation where more powers are concentrated on the centre at the detriment of the states, noting that “a favourable balance therefore needs to be struck in such a way that the centre will not be too weak to the point of the unity of the country being threatened or remaining too strong to the point of emasculating the component units.”
On the issue of oversight functions, the deputy speaker said the National Assembly has been discharging that constitutional responsibility creditably and will continue to do so in the general interest of the country.
Speaking earlier, leader of the Kenyan delegation, Hon. Njoroge Baiya said they were on the visit to learn from Nigeria’s experiences with respect to constitution amendment and how the National Assembly performs its oversight functions with respect to federal bodies, agencies and departments.