Foremost human rights and pro-democracy group, Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) is currently lobbying the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, to strongly support its ongoing agitation to do away with some issues in the country’s constitution.
CLO Chairman in Akwa Ibom State, Franklyn Isong, told NaijaNews that the rights group no longer comfortable with the existence of State and Local Government Joint Account as well as State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC).
CLO, according to him, is pushing for the scrapping of the joint account and deleting of SIEC from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
Isong, is already pressing the Senior Executive Course 44 of NIPSS in Plateau State to be on the same page with it on the two issues.
Earlier, while delivering a paper at an interactive session during a local study tour of the NIPSS’ Senior Executive Course 44 with the theme, Strengthening Local Governance in Nigeria: Challenges, Options and Opportunities in Uyo, the state capital, the CLO chairman insisted on the scrapping of the two issues.
Isong’s argument is that it will enhance effective administration and better performance of the local government councils in the country.
“The Nigerian Constitution recognises local government as the third tier of government with assigned responsibilities. The Nigeria Constitution also grants allocations from the federation account to the local governments on a monthly basis but these allocations are paid into an account created by the same constitution in Section 162(6) called the State Joint Local Government Account.
‘’The mismanagement of this account by state governments has negatively affected effective service delivery at the local governance thus, the constitution should be amended to abolish the ‘State Joint Local Government Account’ in order to enable local governments to have direct access to their federal allocations monthly’’, the activist said.
He, however, notes that Section 197(1)(b) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution establishes SIEC, adding, ‘’unfortunately, many state governments have not been allowing their SIECs to conduct elections as at when due but rather settle for ‘Caretaker Committees’. Where elections are conducted, the party in control of the state apparatus will always clear the polls.’’
Continuing, the CLO chief said “SIECs are independent in name and not in practice. The Nigerian Constitution should be amended to delete Section 197(1)(b) ‘State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC)’ and to donate its functions to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
‘’These in my considered opinion, are some of the fundamental constitutional reforms that can go a long way in strengthening local governance in Akwa Ibom and Nigeria generally.
“Worthy of note that an effective and inclusive local governance system provides one of the most important avenues for people — including the poor, women and minorities, to participate in the development of their communities and to influence the public sector’s decisions that are directly relevant to their lives.”
Others who also made presentations at the event were Chairperson of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Akwa Ibom State Council, Sunny James, and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, and the youth representative.
Members of the NIPSS Study Group included Air Vice Marshal C.U. Nwagwu, directing staff; Col. Chukwudi Edwin Ugorji, Chairman; Mrs. Folashade Adebayo-Fari, Vice Chairman; Group Capt. Pius Ugochukwu Okwuego, Rapporteur; Col. Hassan Maisiyama Bukar, Asst. Rapporteur; Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Idris Sadiq, Welfare/Finance Officer; Bello Jaji Sambo, Legal Officer.
Other were: Kolawole Najeem Akintola, Security Officer; Joyce Lohya Ramnap, member; Commissioner of Police Arungwa Nwazue Udo, member; Adeyeye Ebenezer Ajayi, member; Mr. Oluwafemi Abiodun Jinadu, member and Comptroller Amos Danlami Kupan, member among others.