GOVERANCE

Soludo Rejects LG Autonomy, Backs Single Term For President, Governor

 

Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, on Wednesday, threw his weight behind the growing calls for a single term for elected officeholders, arguing that any form of autonomy for local government areas in the country is against the tenets of true federalism.

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) proposed a single-parliament National Assembly because of the country’s dwindling revenue.

Soludo, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2004 to 2009, spoke at The Platform Nigeria, a programme by Lagos-based church, Covenant Nation, to mark the 2024 Democracy Day.

The event with the theme, ‘Democracy and the Free Market Economy’ featured former Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola; the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; among others.

“Sometimes, these conversations about single term might begin to make some sense so that you fix it, whether you say four years or five years, six years, seven years, single term,” Soludo said.

“So, you are not thinking about the next election once you finish getting into this. I face that all day in my state. You want to get into this (project), they say, ‘No, wait, you know you have an election’. And I say, ‘No, let’s get it, if we get there, we get there and if we lose, we lose.”

There have been increased calls for local government autonomy in Nigeria. President Bola Tinubu has also supported the calls and in May the Federal Government sued the 36 state governors over alleged misconduct in the administration of Local Government Areas.

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He said, “Funny enough, more recently, some people are arguing for the autonomy of local governments including some APC persons, which would take Nigeria back many decades from what a true federation is about.

“There is no federal system in the world where you have three federal units. The counties in America where we copied (democracy), or there local governments don’t go to the centre to collect money directly.

“Each states must have a power to design the kind of local government system that they want. That is what true federalism is about.”

Soludo said some responsibilities in the Exclusive List should be dropped by the Federal Government to sub-nationals.

“We need to tinker with the fiscal powers of the federal and state governments, devolve much of the responsibilities under the Exclusive List to the states, and at about 60 to 65 percent of the revenues to the states, with each deciding on the local system to adopt.

“Why not consolidate the National Assembly into one with no more than five representatives per state? We don’t need a National Assembly costing over N300bn yearly to maintain. We don’t need it,” he said.

The Anambra governor admitted that President Bola Tinubu did not cause the extant economic problem facing the country. He said the country was suffering the accumulated poor actions and inactions of previous successive administrations since 1999.

“We are now suffering the consequences of delayed adjustments,” he said, emphasising that Tinubu has “the historic duty to mobilise Nigerians to clean up the mess for future generation”.

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He said, “Nigeria faces fiscal quagmire and even technical solvency problems. Debt has piled to a level that leaves little headroom for more borrowing albeit at very high cost. Yet, the needs of the citizens keeps increasing in geometric proportion by the day.”

The governor warned that printing more money would lead to spiraling inflation. “We are in a bind and we must get out of it,” he admitted.

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