Dr. Ade Dosunmu

The former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Ade Dounmu has thrown his weight behind local government autonomy in the country.

There has been uproar in many quarters on the way and manner elections and finances in the local government areas across the country are being handled by state government over the years.

This has led to a poor state of things in the third tier of government as many of them in some states are being run by caretaker committees or sole administrators who are at the whims and caprices of the state governors.

This has led to calls for interventions by the Federal Government so as to address the several anomalies in the local government administration system.

Apparently lending his voice to the need to bring sanity to the system, Dosunmu in a statement made available to Maritime Bits said the proposal by the Federal Government to grant full autonomy to local governments in Nigeria is a welcome development and long overdue.

He argued that financial and administrative autonomy for local governments will be a game changer in our democratic experience since its advent in 1999.

His words: “I commend the Federal government whose Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN has approached the Supreme Court to pursue this landmark initiative. There is no doubt that our democratic journey has been very slow due to lack of autonomy for the third tier of government as practised in other democratic climes”.

He however warned that the contradictions in the running of local government in the country as provided in the 199 constitution must be amended in order to create the desired impact.

According to him, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation should however, bear in mind the ambiguity in the 4th schedule and section 7 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which recognised local governments as the third tier of government but also in a contradictory manner gives some functions to state government and Houses of Assembly with regards to local government administration. This and other contradictory clauses need to be amended to reflect the complete financial and administrative autonomy as it’s been operated in other federal system. 

While commending President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for what he called “this bold step”, he enjoined him to go all out to break this jinx by removing the clog in the wheel of development and progress at the third tier of government.

“You can imagine the impact that will be created if 774 local governments are independent and free from the apron strings of the state governments. Nigerians will immediately start enjoying the dividends of democracy directly across the country in all the 774 local governments and also have a say in determining the political leadership at their local governments. The fact that every Nigerian lives in a local government underscores the strategic importance of granting full autonomy to the local governments. The benefit of this initiative is huge and should be supported by all well-meaning Nigerians”, he said.

The former NIMASA helmsman in whose tenure the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) was born averred that there are many benefits in the move by the Tinubu’s administration to give full autonomy to the local government areas.

According to Dosunmu who has the national honour of member of the order of the Niger (MON), the important benefit of this initiative is that it will attract more quality personalities to take part in the running of local governments and reduce the emphasis on the state and federal governments thereby widening the space for political inclusiveness. This will invariably reduce the burden on federal and state governments allowing them to focus on broader policy issues.   

He explained that other benefits of local governments autonomy include the power to govern and make decisions independently which can lead to efficient service delivery, it will also foster transparency and accountability as local governments will be responsible for their decisions, finances and actions leading to better governance.

Continuing, Dosunmu who is regarded as public policy expert going by what he has done over the years including his strides while he was in the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said: “It will strengthen our democratic institutions by ensuring a more equitable distribution of power and resources. Finally, Local governments being the closest to the people are in a better position to understand the needs of their community and provide same.  

He maintained that granting full autonomy to local governments in Nigeria will lead to better governance, increased citizens participation, improved service delivery, and accelerate development at the grassroots level.

“This is no doubt the way to go in our determination to achieve good governance and development”, he added.


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