Enugu – Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday joined the clamour for local government autonomy, saying the joint account regime had reduced the third tier to nothingness.
Abubakar, who spoke at the national conference of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in Enugu, called on the National Assembly to ensure that it amended that aspect of the constitution.
He said that when he inaugurated the association in 1999, one of the aims was to promote the autonomy of the local governments.
He explained that the joint account by the states and local governments had left the local government less than what they ought to be.
Abubakar also condemned the government of Adamawa, his home state, for not conducting local government elections in the past four years.
He said the governor of the state was busy appointing caretaker committees so that nobody would question his activities in the state.
Also speaking, a former Senate President, Sen. Ken Nnamani, who chaired the occasion, said he supported the autonomy of the local government system so that local governments could carry out their responsibilities.
He said the conference provided an opportunity for all to explore ways to strengthen the local government institution and make it more functional and responsive to the needs of local communities.
Nnamani added that the local government was the closest tier of government to the people and provided effective platform for communities to contribute to and participate in the process of governance.
The President of the association, Mr Nwabueze Okafor, said the conference was one of the events to mark its 13th anniversary.
He said the anniversary coincided with the current efforts by the National Assembly to amend the 1999 Constitution.
Nwabueze said the conference provided a forum for the local government system, stakeholders and opinion leaders to meet and exchange ideas and experience.
Declaring the conference open, the Mexican Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Marco Antonia, said Nigeria and Mexico had many similarities.
The ambassador said both countries had more than 100 million inhabitants who play key roles in the affairs of their continents.
He said both countries were active members of the international community and their political systems were democratic, republican and federal and added that Nigeria had 36 states with a federal territory while Mexico had 31 states and a federal district.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion included Gov. Babangida Aliyu of Niger, Dep. Gov. Sunday Onyebuchi of Enugu and the Speaker of Enugu assembly, Mr Eugene Odo, among others. (NAN