Handing over local council allocations to state governments is a mistake, a human rights campaigner, Citizens Voice Development Initiative (CVDI), has said.
The CVDI National Chairman, Chief Charles Okafor, made the observation in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
“The reason we have as much as 774 local governments is to bring government closer to the people so that government can effectively impact on the people’s lives.
“The direct opposite is what has been achieved.
“Local governments are left in the hands of state governors who see them as extensions of their treasuries,’’ Okafor said.
He called for financial autonomy for local councils to enable them to realise their aims.
“Today in many local government areas, there have been no elections for as much as four years now.
“I wish that the Federal Government can set up a commission to investigate some local government administrators,’’ Okafor said.
He also called for abolition of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) to facilitate free and fair council polls.
Okafor said that the Independent National Electoral Commission should take over conduct of council elections, urging that it should be allowed to carry out the duty without interference.
Okafor also called for true federalism that would be based on the six geopolitical zones of the country.
“Our group believes that when the country runs federalism the way it should, some of the agitations and calls for separation will cease.’’
He said that true federalism would generate a healthy competition among the federating units to grow the economy.
According to Okafor, federalism as practised by Nigeria in 1960-1963, allowed independence of the various regions, resulting in their abilities to develop the economy with agriculture.
He said: “We are talking of an arrangement were you have groups of areas that can be on their own; the six geo-political zones are alright in our thinking because people are not complaining.’’
Okafor said that restructuring would require that states should take up certain responsibilities.
The national chairman said that Nigerians must de-emphasise oil revenue and think of how to develop the country with other resources.