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S/Court judgment verdict on LG autonomy is victory for accountable governance, says Omo-Agege

…wantss FG to allow INEC to conduct elections

Immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has commended the Supreme Court for its judgment giving financial autonomy to the 774 local government areas in the country.

In a press statement he personally signed, Omo-Agege described the judgment as giving the much needed life to good democratic governance at the grassroots of our democracy and a victory for all Nigerians.

However, he said more needed to be done to make the landmark judgment more impactful. To guarantee the the credibility of elections into local councils across Nigeria, Omo-Agege said the Constitution needs to be reviewed to transfer organisation of elections at the third tier to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The full text of his reaction read:
“Standing firmly once again as the final, infallible judicial protector of the rule of law and constitutional order in our nation, the Supreme Court of Nigeria today delivered a bold, incisive and highly consequential judgment upholding the well-founded constitutional suit of the Federal Government ably led by His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR on the critical need to guarantee full financial autonomy to the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in our Federal Republic.

“By this unanimous landmark lead judgment, delivered by the highly cerebral Honourable Justice Emmanuel Agim, JSC, the full erudite panel of seven Noble Lords of the Supreme Court gave the much needed life to good democratic governance at the grassroots of our democracy. It is a good day for our democracy and constant desire for accountable governance at all levels in the polity.

“Objectively considered, it can be easily said that today’s reasoned decision by their Lordships of the Supreme Court is a great win for all Nigerians, without exception. Even those who may have opposed the patriotic spirit and overriding national interest that fuelled the action instituted by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the highly respected Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN should easily come to terms with the truth that this judgment is good for the nation. The nation desperately needs unfettered financial autonomy for our LGAs to enhance their constitutional mandate to deliver good governance, provide qualitative basic amenities, and build robust human capital development across the country.

“By affirming the full financial autonomy of the LGAs; restating that our LGAs can only be governed on the basis of proper democratic elections; declaring the appointment of LGA caretaker committees as a glaring constitutional aberration; declaring that no House of Assembly of a State has the power to make laws interfering with the finances of the LGAs; and consequentially directing the Federal Government to pay monies for the LGAs directly to them from the Federation Account, the Supreme Court commendably touched positively on the very justice of serious substantive issues that have become popular agitations by vigilant citizens over the years. The Court’s progressive interpretation of the law is profound, patriotic and worthy of serious applause.

“It needs to be said that as profoundly far-reaching and helpful as today’s judgment sounds, its benefits may not fully crystalise for the good of the nation until the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) is further altered to guarantee the conduct of credible elections into the LGAs by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The nation must accept the whole truth that the perennial charade happening in many States in the name of LGA elections is unsustainable. We must terminate that collective shame and evolve a new electoral order that will produce credible leaders that will responsibly and judiciously manage the relative huge resources that will soon start flowing to the LGAs.

“As patriotic citizens, we owe ourselves and the nation an eternal duty of vigilance to sustain our hard-earned democracy. This demands constant vigilance and healthy contestations to enrich the soul of our democracy as demonstrated by the Federal Government in submitting this action to the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for civilised interpretation and healthy answers. Now that the answers have come, may the nation be better for it.”