Senate Urges Immediate Reforms, Accuses Governors of Misusing LG Funds

By Olaide Ajibola, JKNMedia Reporter

NIGERIA’S SENATE has leveled serious accusations against state governors, alleging widespread misappropriation of funds allocated to local government councils.

The Senate claims that the local government system, once envisioned as a pillar of grassroots democracy, is effectively dead in the country due to these financial abuses.

The Senate’s resolutions, which emerged from a motion sponsored by Senator Suleiman Kawu (NNPP, Kano South), call for an immediate cessation of fund allocations to caretaker committee-led local government areas (LGAs).

The Senate also urged President Bola Tinubu to spearhead efforts to secure full autonomy for local governments, a move seen as critical to restoring their intended role in the nation’s governance.

Senator Kawu, in presenting the motion, highlighted the original purpose of local governments as vital instruments for addressing local needs directly. Established through reforms in 1976, local governments were designed to handle primary education, healthcare, sanitation, infrastructure, and community security.

However, Kawu lamented that the promise of these self-governing entities has been undermined by successive administrations, eroding their autonomy and financial resources.

The Senate’s debate on the motion saw contributions from several senators who underscored the urgent need for reform. Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia North), a former governor of Abia State, emphasized the importance of returning funds to local councils and enhancing the capabilities of those managing them. Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North) echoed these sentiments, calling for constitutional guarantees to ensure local governments are effective.

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (APC, Anambra South) stressed the necessity of amending Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution to foster good governance and restore democratic values at the state level. He pointed out that states like Anambra have not conducted local government elections for nearly two decades, highlighting a critical lapse in democratic processes.

Deputy Senate President Jibrin Barau, who presided over the plenary, delivered a stark assessment of the situation. He criticized governors for misappropriating local government funds, forcing local government chairmen to sign off on cheques and leaving them with minimal operating budgets. Barau commended the few governors who uphold proper practices, but noted that they are exceptions rather than the rule.

The Senate’s resolutions mark a significant step in addressing the long-standing issues plaguing Nigeria’s local government system. The call for full autonomy, if realized, could reinvigorate local governance and ensure that funds intended for community development are used effectively.

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