Sen. Olalekan Mustapha, the Chairman, Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration, said this at the second edition of the Local Government Economic Summit in Abuja on Monday.
Mustapha, who said that the local government system in the country was in a mess and subservient situation, called on the electorate to vote for only candidates that would ensure local government autonomy.
“As the general election draws closer, Nigerians should vote only politicians that have a clear agenda to liberate our local government system by granting them the full political and financial autonomy.
“What we are seeing today in the various states is no political and financial autonomy.
“It is so ironic for a local government not to have authority to fund development in their various localities without the approval of their supervising ministry,” he said.
He said that if all the state governments pass the Bill on Financial Autonomy as approved by the National Assembly, rural areas would develop and insecurity tackled.
” This year’s summit witnessed the inauguration of Rural Credit Guarantee Scheme working group for local governments.
“We are therefore poised to take practical steps on the scheme this time around to ensure that the dream of the proposed Rural Credit Guarantee Scheme comes to reality,” he said.
In his goodwill message, Vice-Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Bishop Isaac Idahosa, described local governments as managers of community governance structure.
“Although, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is explicitly clear on its mandates, mischief makers and merchants of under development continue to negatively mismanage the resources meant for the people,” he said.
Idahosa said that the constitutional powers of local governments as federating units to implement laws and contribute meaningfully to development at the grassroots have been eroded in Nigeria.
He, however, said that the implementation of the mandates of the third tier of government would definitely bring forth genuine economic development in the system.
On NNPP’s economic development action, Idahosa said that the party plans to ensure fiscal autonomy for local governments in Nigeria.
“We will also encourage timely, transparent, free and fair elections as required by the Constitution of Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking, Director-General, Local Government Summit Group, Muhammed Tijjani , said that the local government was the closest and most accessible government to most of the citizens.
“However, the demands on the local government in Nigeria are however enormous and does not have the capacity to process and absorb those demands,” he said.
He said that there was the need for the local government to be considered in whatever economic scheme by both the state and the federal governments
The summit was organised by the Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration in collaboration with Civi-Pact Nigeria and Local Government Summit Group with the theme “Investing in Rural Poor for shared prosperity through the Local Government System”.