Prof. Uchefula Chukwumaeze, who is the Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Law, Imo State, Owerri made this statement on Friday at the just concluded Annual Law Week of the Ohafia branch of Nigerian Bar Association.
Speaking on the topic, “Local Government In Nigeria: A Political Myth Or Constitutional Reality?” Prof. U. U. Chukwumaeze, said that problem of governance, particularly at the local government level, has been a recurring decimal in the political history of Nigeria adding that Local Governments should command an existence separate and independent from the State governments.
“Local Government in Nigeria is not an exception. As a constitutional reality, it must continue to develop till Nigeria reaches the el dorado.
“There should be little or no interference by the state government in the control of Local Government Councils in Nigeria.
“The issue of inter-transfer of fund from Federal Government to Local Government Councils needs to be revisited. State-Local Government joint account should be canceled.
He further said that Local government Councils in Nigeria should be allowed by law to operate based on the peculiarities of individual Local Government Council.
“There should be specialization in the delivery of social services by Local Government Councils, and Local Government Councils should be rated based on rate of delivering social services to the people in the Local Government Councils. Local Governments should never be ruled by caretaker committees but by uninterrupted democratically elected executives as in the State and Federal Governments.
He also observed that the Local Government Areas are dead today due to non-observance of the provisions of the Constitution by the State Governors.
“Instead of democratically elected government officials as enjoined by the Constitution, the State Governors relish in appointing illegal Caretaker Committees who are stooges with whom they misappropriate the allocations to themselves to the detriment of the citizens. The high level of insecurity and crisis we experience today in the country is as a result of no economic activity at the Local Government level in Nigeria.
“The Constitution should give full tier status to the Local Governments and their elections conducted by the national electoral body other than the states’ electoral bodies,” he said.
Another Speaker, Chidozie Ogunji, the Former Chairman of Aba Branch of the NBA, said that the essence of the law week theme is to emphasize the fact that the Local Government Areas deserve to receive the Federal Government Allocation and the funding of the State Government Allocation in order to carry out effectively the roles assigned to them by the Constitution.
Other Resource Persons were Mr Monday Onyekachi Ubani, popularly known as MOU, the immediate 2nd Vice President of NBA, whose topic was the Impact of Financial Autonomy on Local Government Development in Nigeria, and Mr Modibbo Hamaan Tukur, the Director/CEO, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU who spoke on the functions of NFIU and the objectives of their recent Directives on the financial autonomy of the Local Government administration in Nigeria. He was represented by Mr Felix Obimalu the Director of Legal of the Agency.
The event was graced by several judges and magistrates of Abia Judiciary. The roll call includes Hon Justice A.U Kalu who stood in for the Chief Judge of Abia State, Hon Justice CJ Okereke, and also, Hon Justice C. Nwankwo of the Abia judiciary.
Security Agents and officials of the Local Government Commission were in attendance too.
Part of the activities of the Law week was the conferment of Awards to deserved individuals and the awardees are as follows:
1. Lucius Nwosu SAN,
2. Etigwe Uwa SAN
3. Chief Umeh Kalu, SAN
4. Gregory Iyke Ibe, OFR
5. Dr Uche Uche Ohafia
6. Hon Uka Olu Agwu Esq (Posthumous) and;
7. Gregory Iyke Ibe, OFR
8. Unini Chioma Kate, the respectable publisher of TheNigerilawyer (TNL) for her innovativeness in the reporting of law profession and its activities generally.
The chairman of the branch Mr Dave Okwun-Kalu and his Exco appreciated every one who made the week a success, and every guest appreciated the branch for their uniqueness in choosing their topics in their annual lectures and they hope that the communique will be communicated to the appropriate government agencies for implementation.
Photos from the event below