Mr Ambrose Ikenna, a human rights activist, has commended the Federal Government’s directive to send local governments’ allocations direct to their accounts with effect from June 1.
Ikenna a Nsukka-based legal practitioner told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Nsukka on Thursday, that granting local governments’ financial autonomy would help to bring government closer to the people, which was the main aim of creating local governments.
“If local governments in the country are granted financial autonomy by sending their financial allocations direct to them, it will help council chairmen to embark on more developmental projects that will impact positively on people at grassroots.
“I commend the Federal Government on its decision to start sending financial allocations direct to local governments in the country starting from June 1.
“The present situation state governments seize local government allocations and disburse to them any amount they like is not a good development,” he said.
He said that in a federal system, state and local governments were expected to have a degree of financial autonomy for good governance and development to take place.
“For adequate infrastructural development and good governance to take place in a federal system, federal, state and local government are expected to enjoy a degree of financial autonomy.
“What this means is that the Federal Government should not tamper with finances of the states and states should not also tamper with local government finances, this will help people to hold elected leaders accountable.
“With direct allocation to local governments, chairmen of councils in the country no longer have any excuse for non-performance and under-development of their areas,” he said.
The activist, however, urged the Federal Government to amend Section 162 (8) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) that empowered states to distribute allocations to local government in such a manner as may be approved by the state assembly.
“For the Federal Government not to run into a legal hurdle in the implementation of this direct financial allocation to local governments, this section of the 1999 constitution should be amended,” he said.