Full Autonomy for Local Governments: A Milestone in Nigeria’s Democratic Evolution

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The Federal Government’s proposal to grant full autonomy to local governments in Nigeria marks a significant and overdue development. I commend the Federal Government, particularly Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, for advancing this groundbreaking initiative to the Supreme Court. The lack of autonomy for local governments has hampered Nigeria’s democratic progress, unlike other democratic nations where the third tier of government operates independently.

However, the Attorney General’s office must address the ambiguities in the 4th Schedule and Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These sections recognize local governments as the third tier of government but also grant certain powers to state governments and Houses of Assembly concerning local government administration. These contradictory clauses need amending to establish complete financial and administrative autonomy akin to other federal systems.

I applaud President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, for his bold leadership in this endeavor. Breaking this longstanding barrier could unleash unprecedented development and progress. If all 774 local governments gain independence from state control, Nigerians will directly experience democratic dividends nationwide. This autonomy will empower citizens to influence political leadership at their local level, highlighting the strategic importance of this initiative.

The benefits of local government autonomy are vast and should garner support from all well-meaning Nigerians. It will attract qualified individuals to local government roles, reducing the overemphasis on state and federal positions and promoting political inclusiveness. This shift will allow federal and state governments to concentrate on broader policy issues.

Autonomous local governments will govern and make decisions independently, enhancing service delivery efficiency. They will foster transparency and accountability, as local governments will be responsible for their decisions, finances, and actions, leading to improved governance. This autonomy will also strengthen democratic institutions by ensuring a more equitable distribution of power and resources. Being closest to the people, local governments are best positioned to understand and meet community needs.

Granting full autonomy to local governments in Nigeria will result in better governance, increased citizen participation, improved service delivery, and accelerated grassroots development. This initiative is crucial for achieving good governance and national development.

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