*To abolish SIECs
By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — THE National Assembly is set to grant financial autonomy to local government councils and state Houses of Assembly to reduce alleged influence of governors in their financial management.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, dropped the hint, yesterday, in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.
He reiterated the resolve of the National Assembly to grant financial autonomy to the 774 local government councils in the country.
Dogara noted that lack of elections at the local government level were crippling democracy and denying the much needed development at the third tier of government.
Dogara said the House under his leadership, was in the process of granting financial autonomy to 36 State Houses of Assembly.
He decried a situation where governors had constituted themselves as middlemen that continuously hijacked funds meant for the councils in the name of joint account, describing the arrangement as “evil”.
Dogara described the existence of caretaker committees manning the affairs of the local government councils in some states as an aberration and illegality which must stop.
He revealed that new clauses might be introduced in the constitutional amendment bill that would not only outlaw caretaker committees but also stop allocation of funds from the federation account to local governments with no democratically elected councils.
As a step to end the alleged illegality perpetrated by state governments, the speaker disclosed that the parliament would consider abolishing States Independent Electoral Commissions, SIECs, and empower the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to take over their functions.