Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan has submitted that if he were part of the National Assembly, he would have pushed for the amendment of the constitution to make Local Government Areas (LGAs) strong and autonomous.
He also condemned the situation where most local governments operate like an administrative extension of the state governors and the officials become like aides of the governors.
He made the submission on Thursday when he played host to the national and state executives of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) who visited him in his country home, Otuoke, Bayelsa State.
Jonathan was of the opinion that state governors need to desist from directly influencing and controlling the activities of local government so as to allow such growth and closeness to the people at the grassroots.
He agreed with the NULGE officials who pleaded with him to help stop a bill seeking to delist the LGA structure from the 1999 Constitution.
In his words, “The problem with Nigeria is that our local government structure is still very weak. And whatever restructuring we are talking about, finally, Nigerians must sit down to discuss and the issue of LGA autonomy must be considered.
“As long as we have weak local governments, we would have difficulty managing this country. The way it is now, the person who runs the state, runs the LGAs and that makes nonsense of the whole concept of the third tier of government.
“The President should manage the nation, governors should manage the states and chairmen should be allowed to run the local councils.
“And until we are able to do that, it would be difficult to impact the people at the grassroots level. It is only through local councils that the dividends of democracy can permeate uniformly into the society. And all of us must advocate for this right.”
Apart from the autonomy of operation and activities, Jonathan added that local governments must also be financially autonomous if they would have the expected impact on the people of the grassroots as expected.
“The local government councils must be strong, autonomous, and allowed to generate its own revenue. If I were in the Senate, I would have mobilized members to ensure that we amend the constitution in way that would prohibit the appointment of chairmen to run governance at local council level.
“The issue of appointment now make local government council look like a part of the state’s administrative structure but that is not what ought to be the case. This is an abuse of democracy. So this appointment system has made council chairmen become like aides to the governor and we must discourage that,” he added.
Meanwhile, ace music producer, Martins Okechukwu Joshua Kalu Okwun, popularly known as J Martins has taken to social media to beg former Nigerian president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan over the heightened insecurity in the country.
In a long post on Instagram, the producer pleaded that the former president, Goodluck, to forgive all those who betrayed him so that the county can experience peace and unity again.