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LG autonomy ‘ll become one of Tinubu’s major gifts to Nigerians – APC Professionals Forum

APC Professionals Forum has said that  the Supreme Court affirmation of local government autonomy will go down in history as one of President Bola Tinubu’s major gifts to Nigeria’s democratic growth for making it a reality.

In a statement signed Thursday in Abuja, by the Chairman of its Board of Trustees of the Forum and former governor of Bauchi state, Dr Isa Yuguda, the group said apex court ruling will pave way for grassroot development and efficiency in the third tier of government.

The Supreme Court had earlier in the day ruled in favour of full financial autonomy for the local government areas.

It said: “Like many Nigerians, we have always wondered why state governments have over the years held on to funds meant for local government administrations contrary to constitutional provisions.

“But what made this development more painful in recent months is how inspite of a quantum leap in allocations from Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) to states and local governments since President Tinubu assumed office, there has not been a commensurate improvement in development at state level, let alone at the grassroots.

“This was why we were firmly in support of the President’s position on local government as well as the decision by his administration through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Lateef Fagbemi to sue the 36 state governors over alleged misuse of local government funds.

“And now that the Supreme Court has affirmed our position and declared it unconstitutional for governors to hold onto funds meant for local government  administration, we have nothing but praise for President Tinubu for testing the matter in court.

“This, for us, is in line with his character as we easily recall how as governor of Lagos state, he took the federal government to the Supreme court on multiple occasions on constitutional matters.

“Back to the court’s affirmation of local government autonomy, we at APC Professionals Forum, see the decision as the first step towards proper grassroot roots development because all the 774 local government councils would now have direct access to funds statutorily allocated to them.

“This is good for democracy and is bound to ensure that the people benefit from increased fund allocations to the third tier of government as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy.” 

APC Professionals Forum also hailed the role played by the President in making local government autonomy a reality.

“Anyone who is in doubt of the important role played by President Tinubu in making this a reality should know that former President Muhammadu Buhari issued an Executive Order in May 2020 but state governors challenged the decision at the Supreme court and won.

“Also, in January 2023, the senate passed 44 bills including one on local government autonomy but it was rejected by the state assemblies. 

“It is against the backdrop that we want Nigerians to appreciate the success of this approach by President Tinubu to easing the stranglehold of breaking the governors who have been accused of mismanaging funds meant for local government administration.

“We know that the step taken by the President is in line with his stance on restructuring and decentralizing power which were well captured in the Renewed Hope manifesto so we are therefore convinced that history will be kind to him for seeing this particular one through,”it added.

The group expressed hope that local government authorities will live up to expectation of people on their domain now that they will have control of funds for grassroot development.