SIR: The African Action Congress (AAC) supports the Senate bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provision for Financial Autonomy of Local Government Councils (and other matters) 2020 which has passed second reading and is referred to the Committee on Constitution Review. It is a welcome development that will fast track advancement of the third tier of government that has been neglected by past administrations since 1999.
As the Government closest to the people, the need to give Local
Government Councils direct control of their finances and other matters cannot be overemphasized. It is the only way to accelerate development of towns and communities in Nigeria and raise the standards of living of our impoverished compatriots as was the case in the First Republic. It will also stop the brazen looting of Councils’ funds and termination of their tenures in office by governors who see them as mere Departments in Government Houses.
Starved of funds and constantly plagued by the threat to terminate elected and appointed Council leaders’ tenures, the nation’s third tier government has suffered irreparable damage. Social amenities. infrastructure and dividends of democracy could not be provided to the masses who bear the brunt of clueless, inept leadership.
Our party urges the National Assembly to expedite action on the Bill and ensure the Constitution is amended to reflect the financial autonomy and endorsed by at least two-thirds of the 36 State Houses of Assembly. The era of impunity in governance is gone.
We are also alarmed by the bill for an Act to prohibit/ban the importation of generating sets to curb the menace of environmental (air) pollution and to facilitate the development of the power sector, which has passed first reading on Wednesday 11th March 2020.
The bill prescribes at least 10 years imprisonment for any person who knowingly sells generating sets except for medical purpose, airport, railway services, elevators, escalators, research institutions and facilities that require 24 hours electricity which will be approved by the minister in charge of power. The bill further directs “all persons to stop the use of electricity generating sets which runs on diesel/petrol/kerosene of all capacities with immediate effect, in the country”.
While we agree on the need to control air pollution in the country as it is hazardous to health and affects climate change, we reject the bill on ground that it woefully failed to proffer alternative to power supply in Nigeria as the power sector has long collapsed despite trillions of Naira invested in it by past and present governments..
Once Nigerians begin to receive regular power supply, there will be no need for generating sets. Fortunately, Nigeria has abundant oil and gas to generate and supply 24-hour power in the country like Ghana.
Government at all levels need the political will to execute people-oriented projects and deliver dividends of democracy to the citizenry. Nigerians expect good governance, not carnage.
Dr Leonard Nzenwa, National Chairman, AAC.