Sunday Isuwa (Leadership)
Some civil society organsiations (CSOs) have berated lawmakers in the state assemblies and federal legislature for their lack of commitment to passing the Local Government Autonomy bill in the ongoing constitution amendment process.
LEADERSHIP reports that five months after the National Assembly transmitted 44 bills of the constitution amendment exercise to the State House of Assemblies, the much talked-about local government autonomy is looking like it will not be realised.
And though 10 of the 36 states have passed the Local Government Autonomy bill, Lagos and Ekiti State Houses of Assembly have already rejected it.
It is also unlikely that Rivers, Ondo, Imo, Ebonyi, Kwara, Plateau Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Taraba, Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi will pass the bill.
The 10 states that have passed the local government autonomy bill are Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Osun, Ogun, Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Kogi and Katsina.
Analysis of the voting pattern on LG autonomy by the State Houses of Assembly as of 21 August, 2022, obtained by LEADERSHIP indicated that passage of the bill is being awaited in Cross River, Bayelsa, Oyo, Niger, Nasarawa, Benue, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Adamawa and Borno states.
LEADERSHIP had earlier reported that most of the lawmakers, especially at the state level, had abandoned the constitution amendment process for politicking.
Despite calls by Nigerians and the international community for local government autonomy, the bill has not received the needed level of support when it was taken for concurrence at the State Houses of Assembly – with only 10 voting in favour as of now.
The Clerk to the National Assembly, Arch Amos Ojo, had on March 29, 2022 transmitted 44 Constitution Review Bills to the Clerks of the state houses of assembly for concurrence.
About five months after, the state houses of assembly are yet to get back to the National Assembly, but findings by LEADERSHIP indicate that 10 houses of assembly had already passed the LG autonomy bill as of Thursday, following its passage by the Enugu State House of Assembly.
The bills require the approval of two-thirds of state houses of assembly, or 24 out of the 36 state assemblies to become laws.
From records, data and the pulse of some members of the state houses of assembly, it will be difficult to get the 24 houses of assembly that will pass the bill.
Findings show that only 11 states are now willing to pass the bill, which will put the total number of states in favour of local government autonomy to 21, three short of the 24 states required by law.
It was gathered that some state houses of assembly are unable to sit because most of the members have refused to come to work after losing in the primary elections.
“Over 75% of them (state assembly lawmakers) lost their return tickets so morale is low. We are working hard to push them to attend to the bills sent since March 2022,” the
deputy national team leader, PERL- ECP, John E. Mutu said.
PERL- ECP is a governance programme funded by UK’ s Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO).
Mutu expressed confidence that with the sensitisation going on in the states, more state assemblies could pass the bill.
Also, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and Transparency International (TI) have asked the State Assemblies to do the right thing and pass the LG autonomy bill.
Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said most lawmakers are only interested in politicking rather than working on laws for the good governance of the country.
“Like we have always maintained, most of these lawmakers are not really interested in constitution amendment. What they have done is just to justify the spending from the votes (funds) for the constitution amendment.
“This process has been going on and we have not got any favourable outcome. As far as we are concerned, the move by the National Assembly to show that they were working on the constitution was to justify the billions and other things spent in the name of constitution amendment,” he said.
Rafsanjani added that the lawmakers know exactly what they are doing, and now that many of the members in the state houses of assembly are not coming back, just like lawmakers of the National Assembly, Nigerians should not be surprised if the LG autonomy bill is not passed.