Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), a civic group , has taken on the Legislative arm of the 36 state governments of the federation, blaming state legislators for the perceived failure of the local government system in the country.
PLAC says local government autonomy came up for consideration in the Constitution review process under the 8th National Assembly ”but failed at the states, not having been passed by the required number of state legislatures”.
According to the group on its website, it is now one of the subjects under review in the 9th Assembly’s Constitution review exercise.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court in two separate judgments on Friday, May 7, 2021, declared that the dissolution of elected local government administrations in Oyo and Katsina states by their respective state governments, ”is illegal and unconstitutional”.
In suits filed by the local government administration in both states, elected local officials challenged the two governors on whether they had powers to dissolve the two local government councils.
The local council officials argued that the purported dissolution of their councils was in violation of Section 7(1) of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides as follows:
The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.
For PLAC however, ”this is not the first time the Supreme Court is adjudicating on this issue, as it had declared Governor Kayode Fayemi’s dissolution of local government councils in Ekiti State, in his first term in office, as unconstitutional.
”Over the years, a practice that has taken root across Nigeria, is the control of the finances and elections of local government councils by governors and the ruling party in each state, with caretaker committees installed for the councils in some cases, as opposed to elected officials.
”The local government structure has been characterised by gross ineffectiveness and inefficiency, defeating its purpose as government at the grassroot.”