Why FG should probe states, local councils in Nigeria – CACOL

Debo Adeniran, Executive Director, CACOL

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) in a release by its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, and signed by Adegboyega Otunuga, its Coordinator, Media and Publications, has called on the Federal Government to probe virtually all the state governments in the federation and their local councils.

CACOL boss wants the probe not to be limited to allocations accruable to those governments from the federation account, but also to include other sources like their internally generated revenue (IGR) extracted from taxes; rates; and usage of its properties and cognate holdings.

He said such accountability was necessary as the states and their governments were holding the fiscal functions on behalf of the people.

“ In lending our voice to the general call of Nigerians in groups and as individuals, for proper accountability and probity to be fostered in the country, we hereby call on the federal government of Nigeria through the office of the Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and other relevant anti-corruption agencies, to spring into action and probe how the allocations to all the 36 (Thirty six) states and 772 (Seven Hundred and Seventy-Two) local governments, including those local council areas created for ease of administration, were managed so far by those levers of government.

“This would go a long way in recovering much of the public funds and federal allocations that have been whimsically and carelessly siphoned at those levels. This becomes germane when we consider how the state governments have shortchanged many of the local governments in their allocations by diverting such into their private pockets while on occasions, they both collaborate to loot such resources to the detriment of the general public and the society at large.

“As much as CACOL backs the calls for financial autonomy of the local governments without any let or hindrance, we must note that both the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the United Nations Convention and African Union Charter Against Corruption, etc., clearly confer such oversight powers on the Federal Government and its agencies. This is so even if the polity is to restructure today for greater effectiveness and accountability. Without such leverage, the other tiers of government become a Lord of the manor and consequently deny the people, in whose custody the sovereignty must rest”, Adeniran explained.

According to him, in other climes, the local councils as the nearest authority to the grassroots, usually provide salient services like housing/council flats, primary health care, neighbourhood roads, good drainage system, and so on which makes governance more impactful to all and sundry.

“The National Assembly is, on the other hand, empowered and mandated to perform similar oversight on the finances of the Federal Government towards discouraging incidences of impunity and conspiracy at mismanaging the collective resources.

“Without any equivocation, it is very clear that the drafters of our Constitution and Presidential Model of governance, could not have wanted a ‘jungle Republic’ where anything goes as many of our office holders behave at different stages of governance today. For the entire country to be sanitized and ridden of corruption, the searchlight must be beamed on these other levers such that the kind of recklessness and official irresponsibility that led to a situation where a councillor was collecting higher salary and emoluments than a University Professor in our clime in the past would not rear its ugly head again.” The anti-corruption crusader concluded.