By Abdullahi ABUBAKAR, Suleja
A Senator, who represented Niger State in the 7th Senate, Barrister Ibrahim Musa has appealed to the National Assembly to outlaw the creation and imposition of joint accounts by states and local government areas saying that the practice helped in encouraging corruption and underdevelopment of the rural areas.
Barrister Ibrahim Musa regretted that efforts by the past Senate to pass a bill separating the accounts of council governments from states to ensure local government autonomy was frustrated by interest groups especially governors of the ruling People’s Democratic Party who were then in the majority.
He lamented in an interview in Abuja that the ability of the local council administrations to develop the rural areas had been eroded by state governors who hijacked the revenue meant for local governments and diverted such funds for illegal purposes.
“When I came into the Senate in 2011, I was the first person to raise the issue of local government autonomy but a lot of people worked against it out of fear of the state governors.
“We made efforts to abolish states/local government joint accounts but we could not pass the bill because many states opposed it and prevented their Senators from supporting us but we are hoping the 8th Senate will take the matter up from where we stopped”, he added.
He said that many of the 774 local government areas of the country have remained underdeveloped as a result of the manipulation of the accounts by state governors in utter disregard of the Constitution.
Barrister Ibrahim Musa appealed to state governors to allow their local councils use their allocations for development of their localities and urged them to emulate the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El’Rufai who has already started implementing local government autonomy in the state.
“The governors have always been the problem since the return of democracy. I remember that the 6th Senate wanted to ensure that state houses of assembly become autonomous to give them freedom to pass good laws for their communities but the governors who prefer that the legislature should continue to act as their rubber stamp fought back and killed the bill. The same thing happened to local government autonomy bill,” he said.