A Bill that would grant financial autonomy to local government councils in the country and abolish state-local government joint account yesterday passed second reading.
The bill, titled “a Bill for an Act to Alter Section 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to among Other Things ensure Financial Autonomy of Local Government Councils and for Other Related Matters,” was sponsored by Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (PDP, Abia).
Section 162 provides for the State-Local Government Account, into which all revenues accruing to the local governments from the federal and state governments are paid.
Each local government council in the country shall be expected to maintain a special account to be called, if the Bill is eventually passed into law.
The Bill also stipulates that disbursements shall not be made from the account except by a bye-law passed by the Local Government Legislative Council.
Leading the debate on the Bill, Hon Onyejeocha said that the Bill if passed into law will strengthen the operation of the local government councils, as state governments were not only having field day on the joint account, but exploit local government councils and starve them of fund.
The lawmaker said: “With this joint account in place, many state governments starve local governments of funds, especially funds accruing from the federation account.”
She pointed out that unless state-local government joint account is abolished, the objective of strengthening local government as a tier of government will be unattainable.
She said that the local government councils will be empowered to perform their duties to their people if the Bill is passed into law.
In his contribution, Hon Uzoma Ike-Abonta said the issue of local government autonomy was one of the issues before the House Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the constitution.