Senate President Bukola Saraki regretted yesterday that only 9 states have so far passed the local government autonomy bill.
Saraki who spoke at the 40th anniversary of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees ((NULGE) noted however that while it may be true that the Bill is still under consideration in the remaining 26 states, there is still hope because in this instance, delay does not constitute denial.
He said, “We in the National Assembly fully appreciate the importance of governance at local government level. Yes, it strengthens local government administration, but more importantly it provides for governance that is accountable, which is a prerequisite for sustainable development.
“One therefore reasons with the idea of local councils having better proximity to the people, as their autonomy will in turn better serve the grassroots and avail Nigerians of the much-desired dividends of democracy.“
The Senate president further observed that the struggle towards freedom of the third-tier of government is not one which NULGE or indeed the local governments themselves should see as theirs alone.
He said, “If we are to curb insecurity, provide jobs for our teeming youth and boost economic activity through diversification, we must enable local governments operate independent of the state and with their own budget and levels of accountability.
“As I have stated on several occasions, it is our joint responsibility to ensure that there is a symbiotic relationship between the states and local governments if we are to prevent unwarranted disadvantage to the third-tier government in Nigeria.
“In addition, a cordial and symbiotic relationship between second and third-tier government will make possible the necessary checks and balances that should further serve to deepen the fabric of our democracy”.