CHAIRMAN of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has condemned the calls for local government autonomy.
The Ekiti State governor said the NGF had agreed that issues about local government should be left to the states to decide.
Fayemi spoke at the opening session of a two-day “Multi-Stakeholders’ Meeting for the Furtherance of Peace and Inclusive Security in Nigeria,” organised by the NGF in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) yesterday in Abuja.
The Ekiti State governor and Plateau State deputy governor, Professor Sonni Tyoden, who also spoke at the event, called for the adoption of multi-level policing system to address the nation’s intractable security challenge.
They argued that the inadequacy of existing security arrangements accounts for why the nation’s security challenge appears insurmountable
By multi-level police, they envisaged an arrangement where the states and local governments are allowed to maintain their policing system to co-exist with the current federal police.
Fayemi, who faulted the call for local government autonomy from the perspective of federalism, said: “The principle of federalism is very clear about federating units. Local government, as a federating unit, is a unique innovation in Nigeria. I have not seen it in any research work, in any book on federalism.
“Local government autonomy is the business of the state, because the state is the federating unit; in most federating countries that you have, it is a two-tier system: you have the federal and you have the state.
“So, those who are clamouring for local government autonomy, it is a populist demand. It is very exciting to talk about it, but I don’t think ultimately it serves the purpose that they want it to serve. This is because we have capacity challenges at that level, just as we have at the state level too.
“But, the result should be what should matter and the result is that you can have Security Council in local authority. In my state, local governments have Security Council meetings almost on monthly basis and they get involved in our security operations.
“So, it is what they do and not the name they are called that should matter.”
Speaking on efforts by his state to address insecurity, among which is the creation of Amotekun, the governor faulted the argument that policing system at the state and local government levels could be abused.
“I am not going to sit here and make an excuse that such powers in the hands of some local actors may not be abused. The Federal police that we all know abuse the rights of citizens, including the rights of governors, even with immunity.
“You may not know that. I was abused by a federal police in 2014 during my election, and I had immunity. It could happen even if you devolve security even to the local level,” he said.
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