By Sanusi Muhammad
Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives and representing Wase Federal Constituency of Plateau State, Ahmed Idris Wase, says the House Committee on Constitution Review is seriously considering the possibility of returning the conduct of local government council elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to strengthen the democracy for the interest of all.
The deputy speaker, who is also the House Committee Chairman on the Review of the Constitution, said if that is achieved, it will ensure a secured tenure period for elected local government council leaders as well as add flavor to the electoral process and make it more attractive and competitive.
Wase made the position of the committee known at the presentation of an issued communiqué to him after the training of Youth Leaders of Registered Political Parties at the International Republican Institute (IRI).
The youth leaders had requested among other things, a secured tenure for elected local government leaders, financial autonomy for the 774 local government and independence of the local government administration from the grip of state governments.
The deputy speaker opined that if Nigeria has a functional local government system, over 60 percent of challenges bedeviling the country would be addressed squarely.
He advised the youth leaders kick start the advocacy for a functional local government system to all states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), saying that: “You are helping the government in its key determinant areas regarding what the President wants to bequeath the nation as part of his legacy.
“You can recall the intervention Mr. President made regarding the autonomy of the judiciary and the financial independence of the local governments. You are now adding the secured tenure of the elected local government leaders which is in tandem with what the present APC led federal government wants to achieve through good governance at all levels
“I want to let you know that what we are trying to do in the constitutional amendment is to make sure that the financial autonomy is there physically, the independence of the local governments is inserted. We are trying our best to achieve those feats by all standards.
“In terms of the tenure, we trying our possible best to de-robe the states of that responsibility and extend it to INEC so that we shall have a unified system regarding elections in the country. everyone is aware that before 1999, there was a unified system, and even after the return of the democracy, the specified tenure was three years. Their financial autonomy was apt and we had good and dependable governance.
“60 percent of what we today have as challenges in Nigeria will surely be sorted out if we have good governance at the local government level that is the closest to the people. Without any iota of doubt, Mr. President is on the same page with you and we shall address your request.
Commenting on the development, an APC Bauchi State 2023 gubernatorial aspirant, onetime chairman of Katagum local government area of Bauchi state and founding member of the 2013 mega-merger, Capt. Bala Jibrin said: “If the Constitution Review Committee of the House can achieve that desirable development of saving the local government from insolvency, stagnation and manipulations of the state governors including imposition of stooges and misfits as elected leaders through connivance with the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), the democracy would be better for it and more attractive to all”.