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Published On: Wed, Mar 18th, 2020

Constitutional amendment: AAC backs LG autonomy

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By Ikechukwu Okaforadi

The African Action Congress (AAC) has commended the Senate bill seeking to make provision for the Financial Autonomy of Local Government Councils, which has passed second reading and referred to the Committee on Constitution Review.
In a statement, the chairman of the party, AAC said it is a welcome development that will fast track advancement of the third tier of government that has been neglected by past administrations since 1999.
“As the Government closer to the people, the need to give Local Government Councils direct control of their finances and other matters cannot be overemphasized. It is the only way to accelerate development of towns and communities in Nigeria and raise the standards of living of our impoverished compatriots as it happened in the First Republic.
“It will also stop the brazen looting of Councils’ funds and termination of their tenures in office by Governors who see them as mere Departments in Government Houses.
“Starved of funds and constant threat to terminate elected and appointed Council leaders’ tenures, the nation’s third tier government has suffered irreparable damage. Social amenities. Infrastructures and dividends of democracy could not be provided to the masses who bear the brunt of clueless, inept leadership”, the party said in the statement.
AAC further urged the National Assembly to expedite action on the Council bill and ensure the Constitution is amended to reflect the financial autonomy and endorsed by at least two-thirds of the 36 State Houses of Assembly, saying the era of impurity is over.
“AAC is alarmed by the bill for an Act to prohibit/ban the importation of generating sets to curb the menace of environmental (air) pollution and to facilitate the development of the power sector, which has passed first reading on Wednesday 11th March 2020.
“The bill prescribes at least 10 years imprisonment for any person who knowingly sells generating sets except for medical purpose, airport, railway services, elevators, escalators, research institutions and facilities that require 24 hours electricity which will be approved by the minister in charge of power.
“The bill further directs “all persons to stop the use of electricity generating sets which runs on diesel/petrol/kerosene of all capacities with immediate effect, in the country”.
“While we agree on the need to control air pollution in the country as it is hazardous to health and affects climate change, we reject the bill on ground that it woefully failed to proffer alternative to power supply in Nigeria as the power sector has long collapsed despite trillions of naira invested in it by past and present governments.
“It is obvious that Nigerians live more in darkness (power outage) and have to resort to generating sets for domestic, office and business use including our distinguished Senators.
“There is need to overhaul the power sector, ascertain why trillions of naira has been invested in it without commensurate results and prosecute those whose actions and inaction led to the failure of the sector.
“Once Nigerians begins to receive regular power supply, there will be no need for generating sets as obtainable in advanced countries. Fortunately, Nigeria has abundant oil, gas etc. to generate and supply 24-hour power in the country like Ghana.
“Government at all levels needs the political will to execute people-oriented projects and deliver dividends of democracy to the citizenry. Nigerians expect good governance not carnage”, the statement said.

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