Why I sponsored financial autonomy for LG councils bill….Senator Babba Kaita


By Saminu Ibrahim

Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North) has said if local government councils in Nigeria can be financially autonomous, it will accelerate economic and social development in the country.

The lawmaker expressed concern about the development of the local government system in Nigeria, saying if the local governments were able to perform their function, the Nigerian society will be better for it. 

The bill titled “A bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provision for the financial autonomy of local government councils and for other matter, 2020 passed second reading on Wednesday at the Senate.

Speaking to newsmen shortly after plenary on Wednesday, he expressed happiness that the bill was generating good enthusiasm from lawmakers across all political parties.

According to Senator Babba Kaita, the current security challenges being witnessed in the country was in some ways traceable to the inability of the local governments to perform their constitutional roles being the closest government to the people at the grassroots.

He said “I have been pursuing this bill from when I was a member of the House of Representatives in 2015. I have always been passionate about the development of the local government and you and I know that under the current circumstances, the local government will never develop.

“Under the current arrangement when you have the finances of the local government controlled by the state governors. And the implication is that we will continue to go round in circles, we are supposed to be developing our rural areas, but with the current situation we cannot develop.

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“The local governments are so starved of funds to the extent that they are only able to pay salaries,” Kaita said.

He explained that some state governors were manipulating the lacuna in the constitution to keep the local government in perpetual servitude to the detriment of people at the grassroots. 

He added that some governors divert funds meant for the local governments to other uses, even as he bemoaned that this practice was being perpetrated by governors in the ruling All Progress Congress (APC) even when they know that President Muhammadu Buhari has made it clear that he wants the dividends of democracy to trickle down to the grassroots through the local governments.

“Some Governors divert the funds (LGA funds) for other uses. And this situation is a misnomer and I am very sad to say this, especially because my party, the All Progressive congress (APC) promised to implement a new dispensation, but I am sad to say that at this point we are not different from what the PDP has been doing, at least in this aspect.

“And this is coming after the President has made it abundantly clear that he wants the local government funds to be released by the state governments. And some governors are hanging on legal lacuna to ensure that the local governments do not go ahead with its functions.

“Some governors are manipulating the tenure of Chairmen of LGAs for  two years simply for their own interests, so that they can have control of the local government funds through the control of their handpicked chairmen”.

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He however expressed optimism that financial autonomy for the local government councils will be achieved this time around.


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