The Senate yesterday expressed dissatisfaction over the indiscriminate dissolution of Local Government Councils and their frequent replacement with caretaker committees by state governors.
It said the trend had always resulted in low morale and poor performance of the councils to the detriment of the people at the grassroots.
Adopting the motion sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Gumel (APC, Jigawa, North-East) co-sponsored by six others titled ‘Senate Intervention on the reforms and strengthening of local government administration in Nigeria’, on the worrisome state of local councils.
Gumel noted that various attempts to resolve this State Local Government Relations (SLR) impasse via alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have failed and the matter has not been addressed.
He said that this negates and hurts the attainment of the lofty goals of democracy and inclusiveness at the grassroots, which may indeed lead to the collapse of the local government system in some States of the federation.
Contributing to the motion, Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), blamed state governors on council operations, which he said had adverse effects on their workers and teachers because of councils’ inability to pay salaries as “satanic.”
He defied the instruction of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided to withdraw a comment, which he described as an unparliamentary language.
The comment did not go down well with former governors as the Minority Leader and a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, raised a point of order, demanding for the withdrawal of the language.
But despite Ekweremadu’s insistence that Melaye should withdraw the language, he refused, insisting that looting of council funds which he said had deprived innocent persons of their means of livelihood was “satanic” as he cited the trend in Kogi State, where he said workers were paid 30 per cent of their monthly salaries after being owed a backlog of arrears as an attestation to the “satanic” acts he referred to.
But dissatisfied, Akpabio again raised another point of order, saying it was wrong of Melaye to generalise the description of governors’ activities in local governments as satanic, noting that Akwa Ibom under his leadership conducted local government elections three times and also allowed councils to function effectively as he restated his position for the withdrawal of the language by Melaye.