VON-DG tackles governors over local government councils

By Myke Uzendu, Abuja

The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has moved against state governors over what he termed the hijacking of local government councils, manipulation of local government elections and unconstitutional management of local government resources.

Okechukwu in a statement on Friday, came hard on state governors, including those elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), claiming they were “pocketing the third tier of government and frustrating efforts of the federal government by ensuring that local governments financial autonomy does not see the light of the day”.

Okechukwu emphasised that local government legislative arm has the capacity to appropriate its resources, but lamented that what have become of the LGAs are mere shadow of governance at that level.
He noted that real restructuring starts when the governors allow leaders at the grassroots freely manage their resources and take decisions as it affects the lives of the rural dwellers, and not according to the will of the state governors.

He questioned the overbearing influence of the governors on the local councils, saying that “is it not unconstitutional that against the letters and spirit of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which unequivocally states that our local councils shall be democratically elected, that at each local election, the election is warped?”
He maintained that “the manipulation of local councils election is embarrassingly across party lines – APC, PDP, et al.

“Paradoxically, the governors who attempt local council elections at all, at the same time regrettably, subvert the people’s mandate.
“Some of you are witnesses of how in each local council election, the governors muscle the growth of democracy at the grassroots.

“How can our democracy mature if there is no democracy at the grassroots? Can there be meaningful restructuring without free and fair elections at the local government area?

“Remember that even when President Buhari issued Executive Order 10, to remit first line charge of funding accruing to local councils from the Federation Account, the governors in a partisan manner opposed it.

“What is wrong in Councillors managing the funds meant for the development of their local government areas?
“True restructuring is when the Chairmen and Councillors are accountable and transparent”.

Mr. Okechukwu called on all patriotic Nigerians to join in the mission to recover the local councils from the governors, insisting that the move will advance the frontiers of democracy.

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