The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yussuff Lasun, has said Local Governments in Nigeria would be given financial autonomy in the ongoing constitution review.
Lasun, who is the Chairman, Ad hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, disclosed this at a one-day retreat of the committee on Friday in Abuja.
He said that there was the need to ensure financial independence for local governments because they were essential to democracy and development in any country.
“It is very dicey because it will involve you having to amend so many sections of the Constitution, but what I will assure you is we’re going to push for financial autonomy.
“We are concerned because if you go all over the country today, local governments are no longer in existence.
“That is not good for democracy, it’s not good for development and that is why it has become very difficult for the people of the grassroots to feel the impact of government,” he said.
The deputy speaker described local government is an important part of democracy.
“Once they cannot operate on their own, once they don’t have elected officials at local government level, once they don’t have access to their own money, definitely, it will be difficult to do anything at that level.”
Lasun said that all over the world, local government was responsible for almost 40 per cent of development, hence the need to push its financial autonomy in the country.
He said that the onus for constitution amendment lay with the state assemblies.
“If the States want the Constitution to be amended, they will append their signature to what we pass at the National Assembly,” he added.
On the report of the National Conference conducted by the last administration, the deputy speaker said that it would be considered for inclusion in the Constitution amendment.
“We have done that. We have taken those that we think are reasonable and they are going to form part of what we will consider here.
“The reviewed Constitution will be ready by May, 2018 at most; if we follow our programme diligently, I think it cannot be earlier than February or March, next year.
“But, I can assure you of one thing, we’re going to ensure that we achieve all these within the third year of this administration.
“This is because constitution review has a lot of political implications and we don’t want anybody to start reading meaning into whatever section of the Constitution we want to amend at that point,” Lasun said.