By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
A civil rights organization, United Action for Change, UAC has called for the conduct of elections into elective positions at the 774 local government councils across the country with immediate effect.
They are also calling for the disbandment of caretaker committee and sole administrators in states where elections had not held.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Monday, Coordinator of the Group, Ademola Adewale frowned at the fragrance violations of the provisions of the constitution by state governments as regard the conduct of local elections.
Adewale said the group would not hesitate to embark on mass action if the errant state governments failed to sack ‘illegal’ caretaker governments and conduct elections into various elective offices in the local Government adding that the affected Governors had committed an impeachable offence.
He said, “The dictatorial tendencies and dispositions of State Governors who insist on democratic tenets only to protect their personal interests but launch concerted attacks on democracy at the grassroots call for serious concern from all and sundry”
He continued, “The system of local government by democratically elected local government is constitutionally guaranteed by Section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered).
“It is, therefore, mandatory for every State to ensure the existence of local government councils under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils in accordance with the stipulations of Section 8 of the Constitution.
“Thus, elections must be periodically and mandatorily conducted into Local Government Councils. So there is no place for the dissolution of Local Government Councils by State Governments or replacement of such by the appointments of Caretaker Committees or Sole Administrators as has become the norm in most states of the Federation”.
The group also demanded a full financial autonomy for the Local Governments arguing that funds that should had been deployed to the development of infrastructure and provision of critical basic social amenities at the Council level were being illegally cornered under guises of various spurious deductions.
Explaining further, Adewale, said, “The implication of the above is that the various Local Government Councils are entitled to various amounts from the Federation Account which must be protected in line with the prescription of the National Assembly.
“The State Governments do not have power to make deductions from such allocations and neither can they purloin such funds to the detriment of the Local Government Councils.
“In addition to the allocation coming from the Federation Account, the Constitution, by Section 162(7) further prescribes that ‘Each State shall pay to local government councils in its area of jurisdiction such proportion of its total revenue on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.’
“The provision above has rather been observed in the breach by the various State Governments. It is unconstitutional for a State Government to make deductions from the allocations to the Local Government Councils under any guise.