International lawyer and Antarctica Explorer, Hon. Prince Dr. Ned Nwoko has called for full autonomy for the local government administration in Nigeria as the bedrock of restructuring and genuine democracy.
In an OPEN LETTER to the President in Abuja on the state of the Nation, against the backdrop of insecurity by bandits across the country amidst anxieties over the socio economic challenges facing the people, Prince Nwoko said lack of independence in local government leadership had over the years produced a weak structure that could not safe guard lives and inspire good governance at the grassroots.
He said local government autonomy and direct funding from the Federation allocation account would embolden elected chairmen and councilors to work effectively with divisional police officers and traditional rulers to manage security as every crime is local.
Prince Nwoko faulted the prevailing situation where state governors control local government funds through the federation allocation account, leaving the councils as appendages of the states.
Local governments according to Nwoko deserves independence to attract experienced technocrats and successful business men who have the latitude and wealth of experience to perform as chairmen.
He stated that such arrangement would herald real democracy as elections would be fought locally and popular candidate would emerge regardless of political parties and godfather phenomenon.
Prince Nwoko said President Mohammadu Buhari had championed the move with his policy thrust of granting autonomy for local governments, House of Assembly and the judiciary. He said the president’s quest was a bold patriotic template that would strengthen separation of powers among the executive,judiciary and legislature,for the benefit of all Nigerians.
He noted that the calls by southern governors for restructuring should go beyond rhetorics and matched with action.
The former member of the House of Representatives said what is required urgently is for the National Assembly to ensure implementation of administrative and financial autonomy in favour of all democratic institutions in Nigeria especially the local governments.
“Elections will be free and fair if local governments are independent. This will usher in the much needed election of credible aspirants.
“Council chairmen will be effective. Councilors will take charge of their wards. The kings will be held responsible for their towns and villages.
“ Most Governors don’t know what goes on in local governments areas. They rely on advisers who are in most parts not resident in the LGAs. Governors control elections because they control local government executives. Free these executives and empower them through direct allocations and see what will happen with elections and security.
“The restructuring we need must start from the grassroots because it is the foundation of democracy. It is call for Nigerians to support Buhari in this regard.
“ I also call on Ohaneze, Afenefere, Arewa, PANDEF and other groups to give total support. I believe that if this is achieved before the next general elections in 2023, everything will change in the interest of the people.
“We need strong democratic institutions at the various levels in Nigeria for the good of all. We need rule of law and social justice much more than ever before. The strike by judicially workers under JUSUN demanded this reasonably. Judges deserve financial and administrative autonomy to function freely. State legislators should not be subservient to state Chief executives. Local governments must stand alone to drive effective governance at the grassroots.
“Local government officials in collaboration with traditional rulers must mobilize their people to participate massively in the public hearing on the review of the 1999 Constitution holding simultaneously across the six geo political zones from May 26 to 27, 2021.
“ A proper framework of institutional freedom will give civil rule its true meaning in Nigeria as it aligned with American Abraham Lincoln’s dictum of democracy as government of the people ,by the people and for the people.
“True democratic independence at the local governments,state assemblies and the judiciary represents the trajectory of our search for a better Nigeria”