By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has called on members of the state houses of assembly to impeach any governor who fail to conduct council election.
This is coming just as the Speaker described state/local government joint accounts as “evil”, as it has become an avenue for the governors to emasculate councils and turned them to cash cows.
According to him, it was unfortunate that most governors have “pocketed” state Houses of Assembly, making them toothless, hence their inability to impeach governors who violate the constitution.
To Dogara, failure to conduct council elections amounts to “serious violation of the provisions of the constitution”, which is he said was “one of the biggest grounds for impeachment.”
He said: “How many governors have been impeached in practical terms, when they appear – I’m not saying they do – they appear to have the state assemblies in their pockets? So that is where the challenge is.”
As a way out of the problem, the Speaker said any state whose councils are run by caretaker committees should not get federal allocations.
“What we are trying to say is, okay, if your local government administration is caretaker, you cannot draw funds from the federation account. That should be a provision of the constitution itself,” he said.
Dogara wants state Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) abolished. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should conduct council elections, he said.
In an interview, Dogara said the constitution provides the local government officials must be democratically election, but very few of them have elected executives running their affairs.
“It is a system that is in crisis. Since 1999 when we had this latest advent of politics, I don’t want to go back to the days of military regime, you will attest to the fact that there is hardly any local government that has lived up to its constitutional mandate and the reasons are quite obvious,” he said.
According to him, in other democracies such as Brazil, India and the United States, there are democratically elected leaders for the councils’ executive, legislature, courts and police.
“But in Nigeria, the governor will sit in the state executive meeting and they will come up with a resolution that they have sacked an elected council executive and then they appoint council caretaker committees. And to be candid, that is a gross violation of the constitution.
“I don’t know if the framers were able to anticipate that that may likely be the situation that most of the state governors will violate the powers that were assigned to the states with respect to local governments under the constitution.
“That has become the norm rather than the exception, where majority of the councils in Nigeria, even as we speak in this era of change and the promise All Progressives Congress (APC) made, you will be surprised that majority of the area councils are run by caretaker councils and there is no where in the constitution where caretaker is mentioned,” Dogara said.
The speaker said the joint account is “one of the biggest evils” bedeviling local government areas.
His words: “In most states, especially in the North where we don’t have oil and co, the ministry of local government is regarded as the ministry of petroleum resources.