Stop conducting LG elections, INC urges state governments

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By Deborah Coker

The President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Benjamin Okaba, has urged State Governments to stop conducting Local Government elections to ensure credibility.

Okaba said this on Monday in Abuja as a discussant on “Nigeria Security Challenges and Good Governance at the Local Level”.

The event was organised by the House of Representatives in partnership with the UK International Development.

He said that state governments should henceforth desist from conducting elections into the various positions in the local government to encourage mass participation and credibility.

Okaba added that citizens who reside or are from the various local government areas should always demand for good governance from their local authorities as a matter of their right.

He also demanded for amendment of the 1999 constitution to allow for effective local government administration, while issues such as joint state and local government accounts should be abolished.

The INC president noted that Uganda and Ghana at some point amended their constitutions to re-introduce a multi-party system, with provisions for effective functioning of the local government.

“In Uganda for instance, the re-emergence of local government after years of centralised administration was a product of both internal and external forces.

“So, state governors and Houses of Assembly should allow local government autonomy to scale through the constitutional amendment process,” he said.

The INC president stressed that good governance was
one of the cardinal principles of credible elections.

“Indeed, once credible elections are guaranteed at the local government level, the foundation for good governance would have been laid, paving the way for peace and security.

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“In Nigeria today, especially at the local government level, credible elections appear to be an illusion,” he said.

He noted that Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) guarantees the existence of local government in Nigeria but the same constitution hinders the autonomy of the local government.

On national security, Okaba said that the security architecture in Nigeria was constitutionally driven.

“The federal government controls all the instrumentality of government (the armed forces and paramilitary) to secure the lives and property of its citizens.

“Also the government at all levels is placed with the constitutional responsibility of providing security and welfare for its people.

“But in the face of this duty placed on the Nigerian government, the nation has in the recent past experienced an alarming rate of insecurity.

“Ethno-religious conflicts, violence, kidnapping, terrorism among others are some of the dimensions of insecurity in the country. Insecurity has taken different dimensions in the various regions in Nigeria,” he said.

He therefore canvassed for local governments to have a bit of control on local policing for effective security across the country.

He also noted that what happened in pre-colonial Nigeria indicated that effective local government system could address the challenges of insecurity and good governance in the country. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Emmanuel Afonne

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