Speaking at the national conference on the local government system in emerging constitution oragnised in Enugu by the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), the former Vice President noted that the abuse of the Joint Account policy has significantly undermined the ability of the local governments to achieve the objectives for which they were established.
According to Atiku, without autonomy, the local governments would not be able to carry out development projects, explaining that the reported tampering with local government funds has bound the hands of the local councils to perform their constitutionally defined roles.
Atiku Abubakar noted that direct allocation of subventions to the local governments was meant to ensure that the local governments get development funds from the centre in order to enhance their operational capacity while the joint State-LG accounts was meant to acknowledge the rightful role of the federating sates in local government administration.
However, while expressing sympathy for direct allocation to the local governments, the former Vice President cautioned against abolishing the joint account policy without understanding its implications to avoid future conflicts or unforeseen problems.
He said in a federal system, local administration should be left in the hands of federating states or regions to avoid what he called “an awkward situation where the local governments deal directly with the federal government while sidetracking the state governments.”
The Turaki Adamawa argued that the country should focus on ensuring a more effective local administration, responsible, management and accountability.
Emphasising that all politics is local, he explained that the proximity of state governments makes them better suited to relate with local government than a distant central government.
The former Vice President stressed that a distant federal government cannot effectively monitor what happens at the local levels.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar also criticized the overbearing influence of godfathers in the country’s political practices, which he said, poses a threat to internal democracy by denying the larger membership parties to democratically elect their leaders.