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Ex-Lagos Commissioner advocates autonomy for LGs

By Dapo Akinrefon & James Ezema
FORMER Commissioner for Environment in Lagos State, Mr Tunji Bello, has advocated local government autonomy in Nigeria, arguing that there is need to resolve thorny issues in the local council administration.

He, however, berated the Federal Government for allegedly frustrating the creation of more local council areas in Lagos State just as he called on the National Assembly to amend the necessary sections of the constitution which deals with local government creation.

Mr Bello said this yesterday in Lagos while delivering a lecture entitled: “Leadership Challenges and Local Government Administration in a Federal State,” at the First Hon. Dapo Bode-Thomas Memorial Lecture  at the University of Lagos.

According to him, “for our local governments to have any redeeming feature, the starting point will be to first of all expunge everything that has to do with local government from the constitution and let each state be free to determine how many local governments it needs, their structure and management.”

Former Chairman, Editorial Board of ThisDay Newspapers who lamented the tragedies that had befallen the local council administration in the country over the years argued that it was imperative for each tier of government to operate independently.

He said: “When states are allowed freedom to create and determine the system and structure of their local governments, they are able to attract the best manpower, the best administration, cultivate better and dynamic stakeholders, attract investors and the people will ultimately get efficient services. Similarly, discipline and competence would become more manifest.

“Before the military rule, we had a vibrant local government systems based on the peculiarities of each region. The military began their demolition in 1967 and completed it in 1976.

“By establishing a local government in a unified command system, our local governments became alienated from their constituencies. They lost credible manpower as well as ability to create an enduring administrative structure that best suits every particular geographical area in the country.”

Faulting the Federal Government for refusing to identify the newly created local council development in Lagos State, the former commissioner said: “Attempt to create new local government arrangement that best suits our people has been frustrated by myopic, self serving and wicked controllers of government both at the federal executive and legislative arms.

“Ordinary, listing of 37 new local governments created by Lagos State in the schedule of the constitution has been made an uphill task for selfish political reasons,” he stated.


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