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By Peter Duru, Makurdi

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, and Labour Party, LP, in Benue state have been locked in a bitter quarrel over the non-passage of the Local Government Autonomy Bill by the Benue State House of Assembly in the recent alteration bills from the National Assembly.

The APC and LP in statements by their State Publicity Secretaries, Daniel Ihomun and Kengkeng Ati respectively, had on Monday blamed the PDP-dominated State Assembly for the Bill not scaling through.

According to APC Publicity Secretary, “the  deliberate refusal by the Titus Uba led Benue State House of Assembly to liberate the local government system from the draconian grip of governors shows it’s disdain, lack of empathy and concerns for the development of the Local Government Areas and the people at the grassroots.”

On his part, Ati said, “for record purposes, this is the third time that the Benue State House of Assembly has had to vote on Local Government Autonomy. In the past two outings, the Assembly had voted in favour of autonomy. This time, the House is said to have received 66 constitution alteration bills from the National Assembly.

“Of particularly heightened interest to the public has been the autonomy for Local Governments, State Assemblies and the Judiciary. In a self-serving and egocentric demonstration, our assembly voted against Local Government autonomy but for the autonomy of the State Assembly and the Judiciary.”

But in a swift reaction, the PDP State Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom blamed the APC-controlled states and the  Federal Government for the failure of the Bill to scale through.

Iortyom said, “It is the position of Benue PDP that the local APC chapter, rather than play cheaply to the gallery, ought to hide its face in shame since the failure of the Bill to scale through the legislative processes across the country is wholly the failure of their party, and this is for the following reasons; firstly, APC wields majority control in both chambers of the National Assembly where assent to the Bill should be galvanised and permeated down to the state assembly

“Secondly, APC has 23 out of the 36 state houses of Assembly under its control where assent to the Local Government Autonomy Bill is being sought, yet, both in the 2018 and 2022 exercises, the Bill did not get more than 10 states supporting it.

“Thirdly, out of the about 10 states which supported the Bill on both occasions in 2018 and 2022, those controlled by PDP were about half, including Benue, and with the Bill needing only 24 states to pass it, it would have been successful if the 23 APC states had given their consent to it, adding that to the passage already given by the PDP states.

“In synopsis, Benue PDP holds that it is APC with majority control of the legislative arms of government, both at the national and state levels, that stands as an obstacle to Local Government Autonomy.

“The minority votes of the PDP controlled states assemblies both in 2018 and 2022 failed in getting the Bill passed into law owing to lack of support from APC controlled states, and the opposition party’s confused local chapter in Benue should stop trying to be clever by half, by seeking to make a scapegoat out of the Benue State House of Assembly.”

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