President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said local government administrators across the country should push for an amendment to the Constitution that will limit the powers of state government over their activities.
“This will limit the damage they can do to you. The quicker you do this the better, so that you can help your people much more,” Mr. Buhari said in a statement signed by his media aide, Garba Shehu.
Mr. Buhari offered the advice when he played host to the leadership of Association of Local Governments in Nigeria in Abuja.
He said some ambiguities in the constitution have made it difficult for local governments to operate independently and serve as a loophole for the state governments to manipulate local councils.
“The relationship between the three tiers of government is not a very nice one, especially that between the local governments and the states,” Mr. Buhari said.
“The states feel like they own the local government, if they are of the same party. It is worse if they are not.”
“This is a very serious constitutional problem and unless there is absolute clarity and transparency, the relationship will continue to be exploited against the interest of the ordinary people of the country.”
Mr. Buhari, therefore, urged ALGON leadership to quickly draft an amendment to the Constitution and push same through the legislature.
The local government officials used the occasion to remind Mr. Buhari about a pending $3.2 billion which the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo allegedly illegally deducted from local government allocation as part of the 2005 national debt settlement.
Acting National Chairman of ALGON, Ibrahim Karaye, told Mr. Buhari local government workers would be grateful if he could help resolve the stalemate.
The statement also said Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, was also present at the meeting.