From James Ekwazu

The much talked about Local Government Autonomy which is expected to reposition the third tier of government for effective governance at the grassroots has been knocked out by State Houses of assembly who have rejected it as well as 8 other constitutional ammendment bills transmitted to them by the National Assembly for concurrence.

The National Assembly had in March voted on 68 bills aimed at amending the 1999 Constitution, after which 44 were approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and transmitted to the state assemblies for concurrence.

A simple majority of votes is required in at least two-thirds of state assemblies (24 out of 36) and the amendments that sail through would be sent to the president for assent.

The Senate, in a motion by Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta) during Tuesday’s plenary, said 27 out of the 36 state assemblies have forwarded their resolutions on the constitution amendment bills to the National Assembly.

Omo-Agege, whose motion was presented by Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) said 35 bills have satisfied constitutional provision, having been approved by not leas than 24 state assemblies.

He, however, said nine bills could not scale through.

Salient among the bills voted against by the state parliaments is the one seeking to grant financial and administrative autonomy to the country’s local governments.

There has been debate over the issue of autonomy of the local government, which usually operate joint accounts with state governments.

Supporters of local government autonomy believe that without administrative and financial autonomy, it will be very difficult for the local councils to carry out their constitutional mandate by bringing governance to the grassroots.

Among the 35 bills approved by state assemblies are financial autonomy of state legislatures and state judiciary; power devolution to allow state government build and operate airports, prisons, railways and power grid system.

Others are legislative power to summon President and governors; timeframe to submit ministerial and commissioner nominees; timeframe for submission of national budget and separation of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and State from the minister or commissioner for justice.

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