LG Autonomy: Tinubu’s ‘War’ Against State Governors

Olatunde Abatan
Olatunde Abatan
President Bola Tinubu
The war may appear subtle but it is real. Real in the sense that, as president, he is informed enough to know that efforts of his government are not been felt by the people in the local communities after one very challenging year in office.
Reason:  State governors, in their insatiable appetite to corner and ‘steal’ more resources from the State/Local government Joint account, are not allowing funds flow to LGs, which ordinarily is the engine of development.
Former President, Muhammadu Buhari started it two years ago to end his tenure but he was scared of by state Governors who hijacked his close aides to close the door against local government autonomy.
He backed down because he lacked the muscle and political will to do the needful-use his Presidential powers to mobilize against the greedy state governors, beginning from my native Ogun state, whose itching fingers would not allow local governments to breathe.
Incumbent President Bola Ahmed Tinubu  already had enough on his plate in his bid to fix Nigeria.
Though he declared that nobody should pity him for his herculean task of fixing Nigeria since he asked for it, it is quite apparent after twelve months in the saddle that the journey is tedious and energy sapping.
He confirmed this at separate meetings he had with leaders from his native South West and the core North, led by the Yoruba Leaders of Thought and the Arewa Consultative Forum, respectively, last week.
But unlike the usual praising of regional leaders by his predecessors, he threw the gauntlet at them.  He challenged  them to look straight into their governors eyes and ask them to deliver governance to the people, especially the local communities.
Tinubu’s new-found obstacle to delivering on his promise is now hinged on state governors, who, as he said, should allow local governments to breathe.
It is not a small war for a president to attempt to cut-to-size state governors who have over the years used their ‘awesome’ powers to corner the resources of local governments using the obnoxious state/local government account as an instrument. This is so since Tinubu is in his first term, which is usually regarded as a period to cajole for a second term.
Tinubus’s contention that local governments remain the most powerful tool of development is instructive but not strange.
He saw it with his experience in Lagos, where he used the court to fight Olusegun Obasanjo’s government over the later seizure of his local government funds in spite of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
He won 21 times, and today, the 37 local council development areas, LCDA, in Lagos remain a model.
Yes, he has gone to the Supreme Court, which in turn has asked the 36 state’s to  show legal reasons why they should not be divested of the power of life and death on the councils. He is not done.
By sensitising regional power groups to rise up, he has gone a step ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was boxed into a corner to succumb to the ‘greedy’ state governors.
Buhari showed he lacked the will, power, and muscle to set the local government free. On the contrary, Tinubu, who told the regional leaders that his federal government has released more to the state’s, is determined to fight.
This is why, in the next few days and weeks, we should not be surprised if a private member of the NASS sends a Bill against the governors.
In other words, to effect any constitutional change, ,Tinubu needs a fiat bill, as he did with the National Anthem, to amend both Sections 7 and 8 of the nation’s 1999 constitution and make any meaningful change in the state of local governments.
It is also apparent that, with his non-satisfaction with how his N50 billion palliative to the state was ‘disbursed’, he is disturbed that the enemies of his government initiatives are largely within and not without.
Will Tinubu go the whole hog and also reach out to traditional rulers, too, in spite of the matter pending in the Supreme Courts? This obviously may be a card to rally public opinion against the governors.
Though, Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN Kayode Ariwoola has asked judges not to be swayed by public opinion, that may be all that is needed by Tinubu, who may be checkmated by the governors using the state assemblies to frustrate his move, as they did to Buhari.
Will he also’sponsor’ civil society organisations to rally the public against the governors to allow funds to get to the grassroots and relieve the citizens of the pains and burdens of his economic policies, for which palliatives provided never reached them?
The next few weeks, with an imminent strike by organised Labours on minimum wage, will be interesting.
Muhammadu Buhari started it two years ago to end his tenure, but he was scared by state governors who hijacked his close aides to close the door against LG autonomy.
He backed down because he lacked the muscle and political will to do the needful, use his presidential powers to mobilize against the greedy state governors, beginning in my native Ogun state, whose itching fingers would not allow local governments to breathe.
Since he  is a man of war, fighting on all sides and having won most of his wars, Tinubu appears determined to win or at least make a difference in governance on this issue
 *Let him Mobilise All* *Sectors for LG Autonomy* – *Gen Ishola Williams retd*
 In his reaction to the Frankly Speaking Column titled :Who Will Save Local Governments? published last week, General Isola Williams, ex Secretary of Transparency International and an advocate of local government autonomy, wrote:
It is a very serious issue.
It needs the mass media community-based organizations, Obas, Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC),  to come together and form a coalition with the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON .
Besides, each state must have a statute to define its relationship with local government areas.
LGAS must have a Charter to define its relationship with Communities and Obas.
He recalled that the state governors formed a ring around former President  Muhammadu Buhari and kill the initiative  for autonomy but it would appear that President  Tinubu has learnt that from the way state Governors stole his N50b palliative, they would not let go. He knows that as President, the  cries of the people and the bulk of the problem stop at his table .
…..Gen Isola Williams quote
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