The battle line between Nigerian Governors and the National Assembly appears to have been drawn over the autonomy granted local governments by the federal lawmakers as they have concluded plans to mobilise members of their state Houses of Assembly to reject the autonomy.
The action of the National Assembly members, if agreed to by two-thirds of the state Houses of Assembly in the 36 states of the federation, would grant financial and administrative autonomy to the third tier of government.
It would be recalled that the two chambers of the National Assembly had during the amendment to the 1999 Constitution, granted 774 Local Government Councils in Nigeria financial and administrative autonomy through amendment of section 7.
But a faction of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum led by the Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Jonah Jang, condemned the action of the National Assembly members, saying it was not in tune with the yearnings of the people.
Details of the autonomy granted the local councils in the federation include strengthening their administration by providing for their funding, tenure, elections and to clearly delineate their powers and responsibilities to ensure effective service delivery and insulate them from undue and counter-productive interference from state governments.
The Jang-led NGF in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, however, vowed to mobilise members of their state houses of assembly against the amendment.
The NGF’s faction’s position was contained in a statement issued on its behalf by the Secretary of the Forum, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu.
It said, “The Nigeria Governors’ Forum under the leadership of Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State has differed with the National Assembly over the move to amend the constitution and grant local governments full administrative and financial autonomy”.
The governors, according to the statement, also accused some unnamed members of the National Assembly of “using the conference committee to force through an amendment that was clearly rejected by the Senate during the constitution amendment debates and votes”.
The governors described the push for local government autonomy by the National Assembly as hasty as it did not take into cognizance the problems of executive recklessness and ineffective administration at the local level.