I will support bill to free LGs from states —Buhari •Says frosty relationship between states, LGs a serious constitutional problem

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has assured that his administration will support a constitution amendment to free local government areas from the stranglehold of states and better the lot of Nigerians at the community level.

He gave the assurance while receiving the leadership of the Association of Local Governments in Nigeria (ALGON) in Abuja, on Thursday.

The president said a constitution amendment was urgently required to clearly define the relationship among the tiers of government.

While describing the frosty relationship between states and local government as “a very serious constitutional problem,” he added that “the relationship between the three tiers of government is not a very nice one, especially that between the local government and the states.

“The states feel like they own the local government, if they are of the same party.  It is worse if they are not.

“This is a very serious constitutional problem and unless there is absolute clarity and transparency, the relationship will continue to be exploited against the interest of the ordinary people of the country.”

President Buhari advised the ALGON executive members to hold consultations with their people and lawyers, with a view to presenting a bill that will seek a constitutional amendment to free the councils from the stranglehold of the states.

“This will limit the damage they can do to you. The quicker you do this the better, so that you can help your people much more,” the president said.

He acknowledged the request by ALGON for the release of $3.2 billion wrongfully deducted by the Federal Government for the final settlement of foreign debts in 2005.

Buhari said the government recognised the judgment debt, but the timing of the request for its repayment was wrong, given the current economic situation in the country.

In his remarks, acting ALGON national president, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Karaye, presented a six-point demand to the president, which included the repayment of the $3.2 billion debt and the need to ensure the sovereignty of local government administration in the country.

The ALGON leaders expressed their support to the president’s programmes on improving security, anti-corruption campaign and economic revival.