BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, OKEY NDIRIBE & EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA — THE House of Representatives, yesterday, berated Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State and other governors for opposing the local council autonomy, saying the governors may have intended to pilfer the councils’ funds.
The lawmakers said Kawankwaso’s opinion that governors should have control over their legislative houses and local council funds was the basis of corruption that has landed several former governors in jail.
In a statement by the Chairman of the House Committee on Media, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, the legislators also dismissed the allegation by the governor that members of the House were overreaching themselves with appropriation for constituency projects.
The statement noted that some governors, including their wives, have sometimes usurped the mandate of elected state and local government legislators.
The statement followed last weekend’s report that Gov. Kwankwaso had denounced ongoing plans to grant autonomy to the state legislative houses and local governments, saying that they were examples of how the National Assembly had been turned into a breeding ground for rebellion.
In the statement made available to Vanguard, Mohammed said: “Our attention has been drawn to a recent media interview, where the governor of Kano, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, gave a lot of misleading conceptions about the Seventh House of Representatives stand on local government autonomy, independence of the state legislature and constituency projects among so many other issues.
LG autonomy long over due
“The issue of local government autonomy, as far as Nigerians are concerned, is long over due, arising from our people public session as true representatives of the people, our constituents do not agree with the current status where local government funds are being pilfered by governors including Gov Kwankwaso at the expense of the people and chairmen who are seen as mere boys for the job.
”I challenge the Kano State governor to tell people of his state and Nigerians how these funds are managed in Kano since he came to office. We would certainly not accept a situation where governors turn themselves as demi gods in the name of joint account.
It is only in Nigeria that an elected governor of a state would speak to the media frontally eroding democratic ideals of which he is a beneficiary.
“It is saddening to note that local government elections have not been held in some states since 1999. I wonder what sort of government states are running.
NASS never instigate states assemblies against govs
“Furthermore, at no time did the National Assembly instigate the 36 states assemblies against governors, rather the House of Representatives never hid its resolve for true federalism where the federal, states and local governments would function as federating unit for the benefits of the Nigerian people.
“Kwankwaso should realise that the current unitary federalism that is being propagated by him and his colleagues is responsible for the high number of anti graft cases against governors on corruption.
”Why is he afraid of the legislatures being independent in the state? The recent outburst is seriously calling to question the integrity of a lot of men who masquerade themselves as state chief executives.
“A lot of state assemblies are an extension of the state executive council, where speakers and the House leadership permanently go cap in hand to the governors for their needs.
If the state legislature is independent as it’s being proposed, it would give our teeming electorate a voice, not the situation that keeps the governors as emperors of their various enclaves.”
“Just recently, a governor’s wife who has no constitutional powers via a memo from her office, sacked an elected councillor, although this has since been reversed.”
It shows how Mr. Kwakwanso and his cohorts play with our collective common wealth.
On constituency projects
“Similarly, the issue of constituency projects are enshrined in the budget, whose location is just being suggested by honourable members. The project execution, funding and all other biding processes are done by the various MDAs.
We don’t handle contracts nor cash, but in the said interview the Kano State governor erroneously referred to the projects as drain pipes.
“These monies being spent to improve the lives of our teeming populace is not up to the ones he and his co-travellers squander in the name of security votes.
Or where do governors get funds to massage their flamboyant life styles of flying private jets for themselves and their family members.
“As a former National Assembly member, minister and governor, Kwankwaso should realise that a man who lives in glass should not throw stones.
“My candid advice to Mr Kwakwanso, who might be overwhelmed by the busy doing nothing syndrome, is to realise that Nigerians are not as ignorant as he thinks. I invite him to a popularity stroll with my Speaker, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and he would see who Nigerian people will applaud including the streets of Kano where every state official is forced to wear a red cap as a sign of loyalty to his narrow minded and visionless Kwankwassiya doctrine.
“We would continue to be focussed in the 7th Assembly to propagate our legislative agenda geared towards improving the lives of our people who are our employers.”