[FILES] Goodluck Jonathan. Photo: TWITTER/GEJONATHAN
The ex-leader said if he were a federal lawmaker, he would have mobilised colleagues to amend relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to give the people at the grassroots the opportunity to decide who leads them through election.
Jonathan made the appeal when the national and state executives of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) paid him a courtesy visit in his Otuoke country home, Bayelsa State yesterday to seek his opposition to a bill seeking to delist the local government structure from the constitution.x
According to the one-time Nigeria’s chief executive, the local government system is the oldest globally accepted means through which government impacts positively on the lives of the people at the grassroots, adding that any bill targeted at delisting it from the constitution was an abuse of democratic tenets and procedures.
He urged state governors to refrain from getting directly involved in the day-to-day running of the councils, as their actions make governance unreliable, unacceptable and undependable at the third tier of government.
His words: “The problem with Nigeria is that our local government structure is still very weak and whatever restructuring we are talking about, Nigerians must sit down to discuss. And the issue of local government autonomy must be considered.
“As long as we have weak local governments, we would have difficulty managing this country. The way it is now, the person who runs the state, runs the LGAs and that makes nonsense of the whole concept of the third tier of government.
“The President should manage the nation, governors should manage the states and chairmen should be allowed to run the local councils.x
“And until we are able to do that, it would be difficult to impact the people at the grassroots. It is only through local councils that the dividends of democracy can permeate through the society. And all of us must advocate for this right.”
He continued: “The local councils must be strong, autonomous and allowed to generate own revenue. If I were in the Senate, I would have mobilised members to ensure that we amend the constitution in a way that would prohibit the appointment of chairmen to run governance at local council level.
“The issue of appointment now makes local council look like a part of the state’s administrative structure, but that is not what ought to be. This is an abuse of democracy. So, this appointment system has made council chairmen become like aides to the governor and we must discourage that.”
Earlier, NULGE’s National President, Comrade Olatunji Ambali, pleaded with their host to persuade the sponsor and member representing Ahoada East Constituency in the House of Representatives, Bob Solomon, to back down.