RMAFC Advocates  Full Autonomy for Local Governments, Backs FG 

Date:

Joel Ajayi

The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has advocated for full autonomy for Local Government Councils (“LGCs”) in the country just as it backs the Federal Government in its ongoing efforts to free LGCs from the firm control of State Governments through legal means by giving effect to the provisions of the Constitution.

The RMAFC Chairman, Mr. Mohammed Bello Shehu, in a statement, signed by the Head, of Information and Public Relations Maryam Umar Yusuf revealed that LGCs, as the third tier of government domesticated at the grassroots level, ought to be outside the control of State and Federal governments as they are solely established to ensure effective governance at the grassroots level. The Constitution of Nigeria recognizes federal, state, and local governments as three tiers of government and that the three recognized tiers of government draw funds for their operation and function from the Federation Account created by the Constitution

Mr. Shehu decried State governments’ dominance over the affairs of LGCs which emasculates their political, administrative, and fiscal independence hence their inability to provide quality service delivery in the area of infrastructure and social services to the grassroots as provided for in the Constitution.

He noted that the political control of LGCs has made it virtually difficult and almost impossible for the masses to decide who becomes their leaders at that level of governance, which is closest to the people. 

The statement added that the Commission thinks that giving full autonomy to LGCs will reduce the rate of poverty and rural-urban migration, and bring more dividends of democracy to the people just as it will attract more qualified candidates for council elections that will improve the governance system at all levels in the long run.

“Full autonomy will engender good governance, transparency, and accountability at the local level. Security challenges like banditry, kidnappings, terrorism, electoral violence, etc, would be reduced to the barest minimum if the quantum of funds meant for local governments is channeled towards rural development.” 

He added.  “This will raise agricultural productivity, increase income generation, arrest rural-urban migration, create wealth, and generally improve the socio-economic living conditions of the rural populace”.

The Chairman posited that the current spate of insecurity in all parts of the country could be arrested if LGCs are granted full autonomy as local government administration being the closest level of government for effective participation of the teeming population of the country in its governance system would avail the local population greater independence to determine their development needs.

Mr. Shehu emphasized the importance of granting full autonomy to LGCs, allowing them to recruit, manage staff, raise finances, make bylaws, and discharge their functions without State government interference, thereby ensuring their full bureaucratic autonomy.

 “Financial autonomy of local government entails the freedom to impose local taxation, generate revenue within its assigned sources, allocate its financial and material resources, determine and authorize its annual budgets without external interference. It also relates to the disposition of tax powers, retention of revenue, and methods adopted in sharing centrally collected revenue by the constitutional responsibilities of all levels of government”. He maintained. 

The Chairman further said,  “It is worth noting that the Constitution has made it explicitly clear that there must be a democratically elected local government system in place and that the Constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the Local Government level other than democratically elected local government system”

It is the position of the RMAFC that Local Governments should be granted fiscal autonomy by paying statutory allocations from the Federation Account directly to their coffers.

The Commission therefore fully supports the ongoing suit instituted by the Federal Government asking for an order permitting the funds standing in the credits of local governments to be directly channeled to them from the Federation Account. 

 He stressed that RMAFC would continue to be a strategic partner in the efforts to reposition local government councils to discharge their constitutional responsibilities in Nigeria, calling on CSOs and the

 media to be at the forefront of efforts to ensure that local government autonomy becomes a reality in Nigeria.

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