Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara advocates autonomy for state assemblies and strong local councils, as a foundation for people oriented democracy in Nigeria.
Mr. Dogara, who spoke when he received some speakers of state assemblies said that the motive behind the 1999 constitution was to have strong local councils where dividend of democracy would be delivered to the people.
“The intention of the framers of the constitution is that we should have very strong local governments so that they would be able to meet the immediate needs of the people at the grass root. This noble intention could not be achieved because funds meant for them were being hijacked elsewhere and it never get to them… it has deprived the local level the needed caliber of leaders that would engineer development at that level,” the Speaker said.
According to him, democracy is not just elections alone, but also includes ability to deliver on promises to the people, which Nigeria’s democracy has not been able to do since 1999.
Sanity at the local level
“Democracy must be able to deliver value to the people and as long as it does not deliver, we can’t say we are practising democracy. We must ask ourselves what prevents us from delivering the promises of democracy to the people. No one should pretend that there is sanity at the local level,” he said.
The speaker thereafter called on the state assemblies to endorse financial autonomy for themselves and the local governments, when the National Assembly eventually transmits the proposed documents on constitutional amendments to them.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of Conference of Speakers, Abdul-Mumin Ismaila Kamba called on the House to grant financial autonomy to the states assemblies and local government councils.
He reiterated the commitment of the state assemblies to expeditiously pass any constitution amendment bill that would be forwarded to them by the National Assembly.