Editorial: Buhari should go beyond accusing state government of looting LGA fund
President Muhammadu Buhari, last December at an event hosted for members of the Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, accused the state government of misappropriating funds meant for local government councils in their states. He described the governors’ treatment of the administration at the local government level as unfair.
He wondered how some state governors would collect money on behalf of council areas in their states, only to remit just half of such allocation to the local government council chairman, who would have little to operate with and then resolve to embezzle the remaining funds meant to effect the dividends of democracy to the grassroots. He, however, related the development to the question of lack of integrity in the character of many of those holding such offices like governorship and council chairmanship.
“Speaking from personal experience, a chief executive of a state, a qualified lawyer used to do, this is my personal experience. If the monies from the federal government to state governments is N100 million, N50 million will be sent to the chairman with a letter that he will sign that he received N100 million.
“The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to and then the chairman of the local government will see how much he must pay in salaries, to hell goes development.
“Money for salaries will be given and the balance will put in his pocket. This is what is happening.
“This is Nigeria, it’s a terrible thing. You cannot say the person who was doing these was not educated, he was a qualified lawyer, he was experienced, yet he participated in this type of corruption.
“So it’s a matter of conscience, whichever level we find ourselves. As a leader, you sit here, with all the sacrifices the country is making by putting you through institutions and getting you ready to lead. The fundamental thing is personal integrity. May God help us.”
This is not the first time the president has come out to hit the nail on the head on matters like this, however, what is most important is what measure has he put in place as the President and Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. We had expected that the President would make public what his government has done to ensure that there is accountability with local government funds but he was silent on that, a testament that he is helpless and can only lament about the situation.
We are not unaware that the president, as a sign of commitment to institutional autonomy as stipulated in the constitution, in May 2022 signed Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the country. The order also mandates the Accountant-General of the federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.
We challenge the president to go beyond lamentation and work towards signing an Executive Order that would put into operation true federalism that would ensure that local government administration are free from the preying eyes of the state governors. This would ensure those at the base enjoy the dividends of democracy since politics itself is local.
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