Facts have emerged as to why the local government autonomy amendment bill did not scale through at the state houses of assembly and the National assembly.
The Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Alhaji Ahmed Marafa Guni, made the facts known in Minna on Tuesday in a chat with newsmen.
Guni said three major critical stakeholders in the local government project in the country stoutly rose against granting the autonomy requested by local government chairmen from across the country.
The stakeholders, according to Guni who is also the Chairman of the Northern Speakers Forum, were the traditional rulers, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and the state governors.
He said the NUT at the state and national levels opposed the granting of the autonomy because it would cripple primary school education in the country.
“The NUT at all levels are afraid that if the autonomy was given, the management of primary schools and in particular payment of primary school teachers would be seriously negatively affected,” Guni said.
He said they hinged their position on a previous experience where primary school teachers in many states of the federation did not receive their salaries in some cases for more than three years.
Guni said the traditional rulers also expressed similar fears, adding that the state governors in their opposition to the passage feared that most governors would not be able to perfectly run their governments because they would not have enough resources to so do as the joint account would also be stopped by the passage of the bill.
To get the local government autonomy bill passed, the speakers’ conference toyed with the idea of reviewing the Revenue Allocation Formula but “we ran into a brick wall because we were told that we did not have such powers,” Guni said.
“We eventually met at the level of the conference of speakers in the country. We also met with the National Assembly and decided that for now we should allow the law to stay the way it is,” he said.
Guni however said only two or three state house of assembly speakers did not oppose the local government autonomy bill because “governors in these states had already granted complete independence to their local governments”.
He appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for “having the courage to assent to the autonomy of legislatures bill”, saying that the action has shown the president as a true democrat, pointing out that history would never forget the action taken by the president to stabilise democracy in the country.