By: Valentine Adese,
Governor Simon Bako Lalong’s profile has risen again with the Plateau State House of Assembly members voting “Yes”, to Local Government Autonomy in the country.The House today also voted Yes to “Yes” to fifteen other items among which is the “Not too Young to Run” and “Immunity for Legislators for acts in the course of duty.”
You would recall that Governor Lalong’s administrative policies have in the last few weeks been receiving applauds and support by the citizen of Plateau State, as they reflect the wishes, request and addressing the needs of the masses in the state.
Just few weeks ago, the Governor had rejected the federal government’s policy, with respect to the establishment of Cattle Colony in the state and Grazing Reserve.
In its place, Governor Lalong had rather, promoted the establishment of Ranches, which according to him, would address the long time conflict between Herders/farmers in the state and develop the economic potential of the areas where they may be sited.
You would recall that a rumour making the rounds in the state had it that the Governor was making moves to influence the PLHA to vote contrary.
However, with the pattern of voting of the members of the House today, with respect to sections in the Constitutional amendment of Local Government ongoing in the country, pundits who spoke to REALITY have opined that the profile of the Governor is soaring positively.
You would recall that the National Assembly (NASS) in December 2016, constituted Ad-Hoc Committees on Constitution Review to initiate the process of amending relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) based on the wishes and aspirations, of various stakeholders and their representatives.
After due consultations, the NASS Committees decided to limit their focus to the issues contained in the 4th alteration that was passed by the NASS and the State Houses of Assembly (SHoAs) and not the Governor’s Forum and not assented by President Goodluck Jonathan, over some items he had reservations with.
President Jonathan had then questioned the process adopted by the NASS which he felt did not meet the requirement of section 9 (2) of the Constitution.
You would recall that, the issue of Local Government amendment seeks to annul the State Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) and empower each Local Government Council (LGC) to maintain its own special account through which their funds will be paid directly from the federation account.
The bill intends to strengthen primary education through improved funding (joint contribution from the State and LGC). This is a very important amendment in the on-going exercise. This amendment if approved makes sure that the government closest to the people is in charge of its resources.
More also, the Local Government amendment, seeks to provide some framework and standard of LGA administration across the country. It provides a uniform tenure of 3 years for Local Government Councils and empowers the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) to remit Local Government Area (LGA) allocations only to LGAs with democratically elected officials. In the long-run, this will entrench accountability, transparency, and responsiveness at the local level since citizens at those levels will be better positioned to demand for these among others.