The President of Chartered Institute of Local Government and Public Administration of Nigeria , Prof Kunle Awotokun said local governments must be ready for accountability, if granted autonomy.
Speaking during their 12th Annual Conference themed : “Local government autonomy as the bedrock of rural development.” Prof. Awotokun said State Governments have abused the joint account with the local governments by hijacking money meant for the local governments.
According to him, states have abused the joint account with the local governments by hijacking money meant for the local governments.
“The state governments have embarrassed the whole nation by hijacking money meant for local governments through the instrumentality of states, local government, joint accounts. They have abused it, there is no doubt about it.
If they had not abused it, the previous arrangement would have been okay as a matter of protocol, decency and courtesy, that you don’t reach a local government directly from the federal, when are not running a unitary system of government.
Since 1999 almost the state governments have abused the state, local government joint account and that is why, Mr President is trying to look at it from other perspectives,” he said.
The Registrar, Dr Uche Okereke, said they were about creating value to local government and public administration in Nigeria.
“Over the years, the local government system and public administration system has not been properly professionalized, but we thank the President of the Federal Republic last year, he assented to the Bill establishing this Institute making it the only professional body exclusively for local government employees and public administration.
“Without the local government system in Nigeria, the country would not move forward as expected.
Most of the problems being faced today in Nigeria is as a result of problems we have in the local government. With an effective local government system, politically, security wise, financially, we would have a strong government.
“So government at the grassroot is the bedrock for rural development and that is why are championing local government autonomy.
They should have independence from the state and federal and get their allocation straight from the federation account and manage it.
Also there has to be political freedom. The election at the local government has to be conducted by INEC so that we would have a general election, not a governor waking up and dismissing local government chairmen for one thing or another. We want a situation where local governments would have full autonomy,” he said.