By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—EDO State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, condemned the decision of Edo lawmakers to reject the Local Government Autonomy Bill, describing their action as an indication that the All Progressives Congress, APC-led government in the state has an aversion for the genuine reform of the Nigerian constitution.
It will be recalled that lawmakers of Edo State House of Assembly, mostly of APC, had on Monday, through voice vote, rejected eight items including the bill seeking autonomy for local governments, out of the 58 contentious sections in a bill to further alter the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.
Chairman of the party in Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih, who addressed newsmen in Benin, however, said that the House of Assembly candidates of his party in the 2015 general elections, had agreed to throw their weight behind the passage of the Local Government Autonomy Bill, if elected.
He said it was regrettable that while state governors enjoy full autonomy from the Federal Government, they were frustrating moves to grant local government autonomy, insisting that the Edo APC lawmakers have shown that they were rubber-stamps of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
He said: “Since the inception of Governor Oshiomhole’s administration in the state, nothing less than N160 billion had accrued to all the local government areas with each receiving an average of N150 million every month from the federal allocation.
“However, these funds come to them through the state governor and they do not get up to 40 per cent of their allocations. This is the major reason why we cannot apportion much blame to the councils for non-performance but to the governor and the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, who received these funds on their behalf.”
He called for an audit of funds that had accrued to the 18 local government areas in the state, saying: “What goes to the councils can hardly pay salaries and that is why we strongly believe that the councils should have autonomy in order for them to develop.”