By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—Governors of the 36 states of the federation will meet today, with the issue of losing the suit against financial autonomy for local governments topping the agenda.
Acting under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, the governors in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the NGF Head of Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, said the lingering issue of the local governments’ financial autonomy that had become topical nationwide since on Monday, might form part of the brief by the NGF chairman and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
The statement read: ” Governors of the 36 states have been invited to a meeting according to a statement issued from the office of the Director General of the NGF, Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru.
The meeting, which is expected to be a hybrid will commence from 2 pm on Wednesday, 25th May but governors are expected to log on from 1 pm.
“This will be the 5th teleconference meeting in this year, 2022. Specifically, the deliberations will centre around SFTAS Updates, the CARES program, and a few expected presentations.
“The lingering issue of the Local Governments’ financial autonomy which became topical nationwide from yesterday may form part of the Chairman’s brief which is regularly given at the beginning of each meeting to open the matter for discussion among governors.”
Recall that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had on Monday, dismissed a suit governors of the 36 states of the federation, filed to query the constitutionality of regulations the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, issued to guarantee financial autonomy for local governments.
The governors, before the judgement, were in strong opposition to efforts by the Federal Government to monitor their handling of local governments’ funds.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed a suit filed by the 36 states through their state Attorneys General and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
The states in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/563/2019 challenged the legality of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Guidelines which came into effect on June 1, 2019.
The NFIU 2019 guidelines required among others, that the states/local government joint accounts should be used only for receiving funds and subsequently transferring them to local government accounts only.
The NFIU claimed that the guidelines, which also limit daily cash withdrawal from the State/LG joint account to N500, 000 are intended to reduce “crime vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawal from LG funds throughout Nigeria effective from June 1, 2019.”