By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja.
Delegates representing the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) at the ongoing National Conference have rejected proposals of the Conference committee on Political Restructuring, suggesting the scrapping of the third tier of government from the concurrent list of the constitution.
Leader of the delegation and former national president of ALGON, Dr Felix Akhabue who briefed newsmen at the conference center in Abuja today, described those calling for the scrapping of local government administration as enemies of the people.
The former ALGON president vowed that the recommendations would be thrown out when the Conference reconvenes at the plenary. He said delegates would resist the recommendations.
He argued that rather than scrap local government administration, the committee should recommend ways to strengthen the third tier of government.
Dr Akhabue who was apparently displeased instead called on conferees to scrap state electoral commissions and allow the federal body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free and credible election.
He also called on conferees to ensure that local government administration gets direct funding from the federation account if they want fast development to get to the people.
His words: “Let me believe that it is still a rumour. What I know is that the local government is the only arm that is close to the people. All the recommendations of previous conferences and committees have advocated for the strengthening of the local government in Nigeria.
“When members of the National Assembly went round the whole country and sampled the opinions of Nigerians, more than 80percent said local government administration should be strengthened. So, it is funny for just 25 people to sit and agree that that tier should be scrapped. What power have they to do that? We are holding trust on behalf of the people.
“When you talk about democracy, how many people can get to states and the federal government? Local government is the closest to the people and Nigerians are saying that they want it strengthened. What we should do is how to ensure that INEC conducts local government elections in all the states of the federation in order to ensure free and fair elections.
“Local government should be given full autonomy and get their allocations directly. That is the only way to ensure that they deliver and not call for it to be scrapped. We will do all that we can to ensure that strengthen this tier of government for the benefit of the people.”