By Joshua Egbodo Abuja
Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has stated that the growing level of disenchantment in Nigerians will be greatly reduced with eff ective local government systems in place. Dogara also said “there is a chance to meet up with the expectations of Nigerians as the ongoing Constitution amendment exercise aff ords lawmakers the opportunity to improve on governance from the grassroots to the top.” He stated this yesterday at a consultative meeting for building consensus among the conference of Speakers, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and leaders of thought on local government and state Houses of Assembly autonomy, by leveraging on the ongoing constitution review exercise. He said the “amendment exercise could not have come at a better time than now that there is a loud and deafening call across the nation for restructuring and deepening our democratic systems and processes.”
“As leaders, we must use every opportunity to fi nd ways of strengthening Nigeria’s unity through eff ective governance and delivery of public goods and services that will lead to an improvement in the livelihoods of the average Nigerian. If we can make the local government system work eff ectively, most of the discontentment and disenchantment among the rural population and the generality of Nigerians will be greatly reduced.
“Th e Constitution amendment process provides an opportunity for the National Assembly in collaboration with the State legislatures, to enhance our governance architecture, strengthen our democratic institutions, entrench equity and social justice in our polity and most importantly, put Nigeria on the part of greatness that Nigerians crave for.”
Th e Speaker also recalled that in the last aborted Constitution alteration exercise in the 7th Assembly, all the Houses of Assembly voted to support autonomy for the Houses of Assembly, having learnt from the bitter experience of the 2nd Alteration Bill where the Houses of Assembly on their own, turned down autonomy for State Houses of Assembly. Justifying his repeated call for fi nancial autonomy for local governments and Houses of Assembly, Dogara said it would bring good governance and dividends of democracy to the states and rural areas. “Indeed, fi nancial autonomy for the state legislatures is one of the most important ingredients for good governance at the state level.