Director-General of National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman and other political office holders at the Local Government Councils on Thursday applauded the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure direct payment of federal allocation to the 774 Local Government Councils.
Prof. Suleiman gave the commendation in Abuja, at the opening of the two-day training workshop for the Nigeria Councillors Forum (FCT chapter) held at the instance of the Institute.
“Since the advent of the present democratic experience in Nigeria in 1999, attention has been focused largely on strengthening legislative performance at National and State levels while democracy at the Local Government level remains largely weak.
“For instance, while both National and State Legislatures have been granted financial autonomy to enhance their lawmaking, representation and oversights roles, most Local Government Areas in Nigeria are still being administered by unelected officials despite the constitutional provision to the contrary.
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“I must reiterate that for Nigeria to experience balanced and sustainable development, there is a need for the bulk of the country’s population who live in the rural areas to benefit from dividends of democracy at the grassroots level.
“This would be better achieved if democracy at the Local Government level is not only entrenched but also strengthened to provide the much-needed goods and services for the general wellbeing of the rural populace.
“Let me use this opportunity to commend the present efforts of the Federal Government, under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for making financial allocation directly to the Local Government Area, a cardinal focus of this administration.
“This gesture will help to strengthen the financial base of the Local Government in discharging their constitutional roles,” he noted.
To this end, the NILDS accounting officer urged “various State Governments to key into this initiative without necessarily compromising the independence of the federating units.
“Direct allocation to Local Government will, however, make more meaning if the necessary machinery for checks and balances are out in place to ensure judicious use of available resources,” he stressed.
Speaking with Nigerian Tribune, Speaker of Abaji Area Council in FCT, Hon. Abdulrahman Ajiya who applauded the FCT Administration since 1999 and Nasir El-Rufai administration for keeping faith with the Area Councils in terms of prompt release of funds.
He also affirmed that the workshop will go a long way to enhance the capacity of Local Government Councils.
In his remarks, Dr John Olanrewaju, Director, Post-Graduate Studies acknowledged the support of the leadership of the National Assembly for the Institute.