‘Boost for democracy’ – LP Reps leader hails Supreme Court judgment on LGA financial autonomy

This decision will empower grassroots development and bolster the integrity of local governance,”

By Ife Osemedua

365Daily – The leader of Labour Party (LP) caucus in the House of Representatives, Hon. Afam Victor Ogene, has commended the Supreme Court judgment granting financial autonomy to all 774 Local Governments in Nigeria, saying it is a  significant milestone in the quest for true democracy and decentralisation in the country.

In a statement released in Awka, Anambra State on Thursday, July 11, 2024, the lawmaker noted the landmark decision ”will empower grassroots development and bolster the integrity of local governance, marking a substantial step forward for Nigeria’s democratic journey.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Supreme Court, in a lead judgement read by Justice Emmanuel Agim, ruled that all funds due to the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in Nigeria must be paid directly into their accounts, rather than to those of the state governments. The apex court further held that it is unconstitutional for state governments to retain and utilise allocations meant for the LGAs on their behalf, without transferring them to the LGAs, as stipulated in Section 162(3) of the Constitution.

Reacting, Hon. Ogene added, “Today’s Supreme Court pronouncement will have a profound and far-reaching impact on our democracy, stabilizing and revitalising it for the future. This landmark decision will redefine the essence and practice of democratic governance in our nation, bringing development and governance closer to the grassroots, the very foundation of our democracy.

“It will also empower the third tier of government, as intended by the constitution, granting local government administrations greater autonomy and independence from the whims of state governors. No longer will local governments be subject to the puppeteering of self-appointed administrators, allowing the voices, development, and interests of the grassroots population to finally be heard and addressed.”

The Lawmaker, who is a member of the ongoing constitution review panel in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, further emphasised, “The next crucial step in this democratic journey is to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to oversee the organisation of local government elections, thereby strengthening the integrity of the process by enhancing the transparency of leadership selection mechanisms at the grassroots level. I am confident and optimistic that the current constitutional review will achieve this vital democratic reform for the betterment of our nation and its people.

“I urge governors of states without democratically elected LGA administrators to embrace this sustainable democratic development and take the necessary steps to organise free and fair local government elections, as mandated by the constitution and reinforced by the recent Supreme Court decision.”

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