Senate accuses state governors of misappropriating funds

Sharon EboesomiMay 15, 20244 min

The Senate called on President Tinubu to immediately halt the allocation of funds to caretaker committee-led Local Government Areas.

Senate accuses state governors of misappropriating funds

The Senate has accused State governors of misappropriating funds allocated to Local Government Councils in Nigeria. 

This is as it claimed that Area Council chairmen are usually compelled to sign off cheques by State governors, who in turn allocate peanuts to them.

This was a sequel to the adoption of a motion during Wednesday’s plenary, to call on the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to resuscitate the local government system in Nigeria.

Presenting the motion, Senator Suleiman Kawu (NNPP, Kano South), stressed that in the tapestry of Nigeria’s governance system, local governments are meant to be threads weaving development close to the ground. 

He said “Envisioned as the closest tier of administration to the people, they hold the potential to address local needs directly and shape communities from the inside out. But the story of Nigeria’s local government system is one of promise and paradox, woven with threads of hope and frustration.”

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According to him, the dream of achieving the objectives of the Local Government system encountered harsh realities. 

He noted that successive governments often eroded local autonomy, limiting their financial resources and control over decision-making. 

He said, “Corruption scandals and mismanagement tarnished the image of some local governments, fueling public cynicism. Uneven development across the country also meant limited resources were only sometimes distributed fairly, leaving some communities feeling neglected.

“Some governors play in crucial role in frustrating local government autonomy in Nigeria via constitutional alteration process. With limited financial and operational autonomy, local governments might struggle to effectively address local security concerns like community policing initiatives, intelligence gathering, and infrastructure maintenance.”

In their contributions, lawmakers argued that if key national challenges must be addressed, the Local Government institution must be revived.

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, acknowledged that councillors had the authority to grant modest contracts in the past but bemoaned the absence of local government in the present.

On his part, the Deputy President of the Senate, Jibrin Barau who presided during Wednesday’s plenary said, “Local Governments are dead in Nigeria. Governors misappropriate local government funds. They force these local government chairmen to sign off cheques and they give them meagre amounts as running costs. There are some governors who are different and we thank them for doing that,” 

In the resolutions reached by the Senate, President Tinubu was urged to “Champion the cause of full autonomy for local governments in our nation. The challenges we face – persistent security threats, Rural-Urban Migration, decaying infrastructure, and widespread unemployment – demand bold action, and we believe that empowering local governments holds the key to unlocking a brighter future for all Nigerians.

“Convene a national dialogue involving governors, state legislators, local government officials, civil society organizations, and community leaders to discuss the roadmap towards achieving full local government autonomy.

“Use his leadership and influence to persuade the federating units and all critical stakeholders in the constitutional alteration processes and administrative bottlenecks to embrace the vision of full local government autonomy.

“Also champion changes to the Constitution that enshrine and guarantee genuine independence for local governments, granting them control over their resources, decision-making authority, and the power to chart their development paths

“Urge Federal agencies to fully comply with existing legal provisions that empower local Governments, ensuring timely release of allocated funds directly to their bank accounts and streamlining administrative processes.

“Call on the President, Commander–in–Chief of the Armed Forces to resuscitate Local Government System in Nigeria.”

Sharon Eboesomi

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