The 19 Northern State Houses of Assembly have thrown their weight of support behind autonomy of local government in the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution.
Speaker of Niger State House of Assembly and chairman, Northern State Speakers Forum, Marafa Ahmed Guni, disclosed yesterday in Minna, while receiving officials and members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) who were on solidarity rally to the Assembly.
They sought the support of the House for autonomy of the local government councils in the ongoing constitutional review.
Guni assured the union that the present Houses of Assembly in Northern Nigeria were ready to support the autonomy of local government councils because the autonomy will improve the wellbeing of the people at the grassroots and also ensure good governance at that level.
He said, “Without mincing words, I am assuring you that we in Niger State House of Assembly are giving the assurances that we will support the local government autonomy; not only this State House of Assembly.
“I am talking to you as the chairman of the 19 Northern States of Nigeria. All the 19 states are supporting two issues: local government autonomy and the autonomy of the legislature in the review of the 1999 constitution”.
Guni therefore urged NULGE and the proponents of local government autonomy to look for support of only five states in the South because the 19 Northern State Houses of Assembly were sure supporting it.
He stated that the autonomy of the local government councils would bring about development at the grassroots level because 85 per cent of Nigerians are residing there.
The Speaker said, “When we were in Lagos for the constitutional review we did not only talk about local government autonomy. We talked about additional percentage of allocation to the local government if we want them to survive”.
“When we receive the constitution in Niger State we will call all stakeholders and even meet at the 19 Northern Houses of Assembly level, but as far as local government autonomy is concern, it is a done deal. We have taken a decision and no going back on the autonomy of local government and the legislature”.