Delete 774 LGAs From 1999 Constitution, Afenifere Tells Tinubu

AKURE – Pan-Yoruba sociocultural organization, Afenifere, has asked President Bola Tinubu to delete the list of 774 local governments from the 1999 constitution as amended to allow states to have their local governments as the only solution to the staggering injustice in the country.

Afenifere insisted that this initiative had been recommended by the 2014 National Conference and the 2018 El-Rufai Committee on Federalism as part of the holistic restructuring of the Nigerian Federation.

Rising from the National Caucus of the group, Afenifere hinted that President Tinubu had not shown commitment to restructuring the country since he assumed office last year.

In a communique signed by Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Prince Justice Faloye, National Publicity Secretary, the Yoruba group faulted the suit instituted by the Federal Government against the 36 states at the Supreme Court on the local government autonomy as a mere distraction.

In a copy of the communique which was made available to newsmen in Akure, the state capital, Afenifere informed that President Tinubu’s effort on the local governments would not yield positive results without amending certain sections of the 1999 Constitution.

According to the group, “Local Government is the business of the federating units and thus the listing and enshrinement in the constitution of the 744 local councils arbitrarily created by the military are antithetical to the principles of federalism which is the negotiated founding covenants of the Nigerian state.”

Afenifere further stated that “The Constitution provides a clear delineation of powers between the state, emphasizing that “The President has overstepped the limit of his constitutional powers by issuing the Executive Order 10. The country is run based on the rule of law,”.

“That President Tinubu by praying the Supreme Court for a declaration “that in the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the Federal Government is not obligated under Section 162 of the Constitution to pay any State, funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place” is only urging the apex court to overrule itself on which same act of Obasanjo against Lagos State it declared illegal.

“The prayer of the Federal Government for a declaration “that the constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, state and local governments as three tiers of government and that the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution” is against established tenet of federalism which recognises the central government and federating units as the only two tiers and indeed inconsistent with Section 2 (2) of the same constitution which provides that “Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory”.

“A cursory historical analysis of the Local Government system shows that under the colonial Native Authorities system when councils were not receiving money from the Federation Account nor the basis of revenue allocation, the North had 147 while the South had 215.

“When the military first introduced a uniform Local Government system with a list of councils enshrined in the 1979 constitution, the North had 152 while the South had 150.

“Now under the 1999 constitution, when Councils are funded from the federation account, a basis of revenue allocation, delineation of electoral wards, census enumeration areas, employment in Federal Government ministries and parastatals and above all, delegates to political party conventions for selecting presidential and other candidates, the North is 413 as against 355 for the South.

“In 1979, the present South East had 44, while the North West was 53. Today, the South East stands at 95, while the North West is 187.

“In 1979, old Imo State (now Imo and Abia) had 21 Councils. Kano (now Kano and Jigawa) 20. Under the present 1999 constitution, the same old Imo now has a total of 44 (Abia 17, Imo 27). In contrast, the old Kano which had less than old Imo now has a total of 71 (Jigawa 27; Kano 44), a little less than all the 5 states of the South East which altogether have 95 Councils.

“Within the South West, Ogun State created in 1976 has 20 Local Governments compared with smaller Osun State, carved out of Oyo in 1991, with a comparatively lower population and smaller territorial size with 30 Local Governments. Ondo State is also larger in size and population than Osun has 18. For no reason, Bayelsa is awarded only 8.”

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