President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has restated his support for local government autonomy in Nigeria.
He said the National Assembly appreciated the importance of autonomous governance at the third tier of government and would continue to work towards its realisation.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sanni Onogu, in Abuja on Saturday, stated that the National Union of Local Government Employees, led by its National President, Mr. Ibrahim Khalil, visited him in Abuja.
The Senate President expressed regret that only nine states voted for local government autonomy in the ongoing constitutional review being done by the National Assembly.
Saraki said, “If we consider the last constitution review, we would realise that we have a lot to do. I don’t think we had up to nine states that were in support of local government autonomy. I will ensure that we do more to rectify this issue. I am proud to say that my home state, Kwara, is one of those nine states that supported local government autonomy.
“I assure you it will happen. We are all in a hurry to see that it happens. The question though, is how soon? I always say that this kind of things, like the constitutional amendment process, you cannot bully anybody. You must ensure that there is cooperation and collaboration.”
Saraki said the National Assembly appreciated the importance of governance by the local government.
He stated, “As such, it is very important that we strengthen local government administration,” he stated.
“Part of strengthening local government administration is ensuring that there is autonomy. I also believe that strengthening local government administration means that we all do our best to increase the capacity at the local government.
“It is important that we see how local governments can be independent, how local governments can have more autonomy, so that governors cannot interfere with what is due to local governments. We must also look at how we can ensure that local governments have funding of their own without any interference.”
Earlier, Khalil stated that the local government administration in the country had been rendered impotent over the years as a result of undue interference.
He said, “Our visit is to rekindle efforts and bring all hands on deck to ensure that local government administration becomes autonomous in this country. We recognise the critical roles that the leadership of the National Assembly has played in this regard.”