APC Committee on Restructuring Wants LGAs Scrapped
The committee on true federalism set up by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to collate the views of Nigerians has recommended the abolition of local government as a third tier of government from the country’s constitution.
Confirming the submission of the report , APC national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said yesterday that the public presentation is part of the process that will lead to its validation by other organs of the APC before the party’s final position would be announced.
On the scrapping of local government from the constitution, the committee report noted that “ In conformity with conventional principles of federalism, LGAs should be no more than administrative units and in line with empirical findings during consultations”.
The committee recommended that the LGA should be removed from the federal constitution and states be allowed to develop a local administrative system that is relevant and peculiar to each respective states”.
The special panel also endorsed the establishment of state police, including a recommendation that the Petroleum and Land Use Acts be amended to allow all the states to control their mineral resources, except as it affects offshore oil.
While submitting the committee report to the National Working Committee (NWC) at the APC secretariat last Thursday, Governor el-rufai had hammered on the subject, saying the committee was surprised at the outcome of the submissions it received on the matter.
“Local government autonomy is a very interesting subject in which we were surprised at the outcome. There were divergent opinions on this issue. We recommend that the current system of local government administration provided for by the constitution should be amended and that states should be allowed to develop and enact laws to have local government administration system that is peculiar to each of them.
“What we heard from Nigerians is that as far as local government is concerned, there is no one size fits for all. We all come from different histories, different cultures, different administrative systems and we believe that the constitution should ensure that there is a democratic local government system in every state. But considering the details of and the nature of that local government system, the number of local governments should be left to the states and state houses of assembly.
“We proposed amendments to Sections 7, 8, 162, the first schedule, part one and the first schedule of the constitution to give effect to our recommendations. The section that lists the local governments and their Headquarters should be removed so that local governments are no longer named in the constitution.
“States can create their local governments and determine the structure of their local governments. We are by this, recognizing that in a federal system, you cannot have more than two tiers of government. Having three tiers of government is an aberration. There is nowhere in the world where our research has shown us that you have more than two federating units.”
On resources control, the committee in the report noted the “the growing agitations for states to exercise control over natural resources within their respective territories and pay taxes or royalties therefrom to the Federal Government”.
El-Rufai argued during his presentation that, while there will be amendment to legislations governing this, the “Petroleum Act will be amended to show that states can now issue oil mining licences; the Land Use Act, Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act, the Petroleum Profit Tax Act 2007 would all need to be amended.
“So, we have proposed amendment that will ensure that minerals, mining and oil are vested in the states except offshore minerals”, he added.
The APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, promised that the report will be considered and decided upon by mid-February by the various organs of the party.
Oyegun said: “I am going to promise that before the middle of February, it would have been considered and decided upon by the major structures of this party, the NEC and the Caucus of the party. And whatever is thereafter agreed will be presented to the authorities as the considered views and decisions of the APC for appropriate implementation”.
In another realm, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) yesterday vowed that it will mobilise to reject at all levels, the report of the APC committee on true federalism, which recommended the scrapping of local government from the constitution.
The Union also called on the leadership of the APC to discard the report, saying it will have grave implication on the political fortune of the party.
NULGE president, Ibrahim Khaleel, noted that the union has since condemned the report in its totality, saying it does not reflect the true position, which it made during the public presentations.
He said, “The good thing is that the report is not a final report. It still has to go through some stages, but this is not the true position that was made during the public hearings. We were there for instance in Kano, Sokoto and Zamfara.
“The position of the people there were very clear. We are aware that this report by el-Rufai is a pre-determined report by some APC governors who are not comfortable with an autonomous local government system.
“It is a well established facts that Nigerians through their representatives at the National Assembly have spoken in support of autonomy for local government areas. So, we condemn in totality the el-Rufai report and we will mobilise to reject it at all levels”.