A bill for an Act to amend the provision of the constitution to give more power and responsibilities to the local government authorities has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill, which was sponsored by Hon. Oberuakpefe Afe, sought to give the local councils a legal plank to base their security roles as they collaborate with federal law enforcement agencies.
Leading the debate on the bill at the plenary yesterday, Afe said constitutional democracy is touted and acknowledged as the best form of government because the window available to the legislature is to continually working on its provisions to meet the changing needs of the time, hence, every constitutional democracy is still witnessing amendments irrespective of the age.
The lawmaker said it has been acknowledged in many public fora that the responsibility given to local government councils under the 5th Schedule is restrictive and nebulous in tenor, such that elected officers in the councils are not challenged enough to carry out projects for the benefit of residents of their local councils.
Afe said: “I respectfully submit that a template that permits flexibility in the system of local government is preferred to a regimented system dictated by the centre which is difficult to adjust to changing needs and circumstances.”
He added that Section 7(5) of the bill sought to concede some responsibilities to local councils in the area of environmental challenge and development to make local government administration more impactful.
Afe noted that Section 3(6) of the bill sought to give more latitude to state legislatures to determine the number and size of local governments in line with the economic variables and other relevant considerations that would make the local government structure more relevant to the day-to-day administration of cities and towns that fall within their spheres of influence.
The lawmaker argued that “it shouldn’t be lost on us that sooner than later, with the global technological breakthroughs making fossil fuels less important in the global market, agricultural produce would be the main revenue earner of the country.”
Afe said the earlier this reality is captured in the administrative architecture of the country, the easier the country would cope with the burden of administrative costs.
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