Some Nigerians displeased with the Senate for refusing to grant autonomy to the 774 local government councils in the country, as proposed to the Committee for the Review of the 1999 Constitution, have resorted to staging a protest online.
Although the House of Representatives made several changes to Section 7 of the Constitution by recognising the local government system as a full tier of government, like the federal and state governments, the Senate had on July 16 voted against the proposal to make local governments independent of their states.
The Senate’s decision has, however, prompted some Nigerians from the various geo-political zones of the country to express their disappointment on the social media.
To this end, an online petition titled, ‘Nigerian Legislators: Make Local Governance Work for the Poor, Grant Autonomy to Local Governments’, has been hosted on change.org, a website for online protests, by a group known as Reclaim Naija.
Those who signed the petition on the website lamented that the Senate’s vote against local government autonomy came as a shock to them.
The protesters said the Senate position did not reflect the wishes and demands of the majority of Nigerians who came out to speak their minds during the public hearing that took place nationwide in 2012.
According to them, the LGs have been the least performing and least functional tier of government in the country, largely because it lacks the autonomy currently being enjoyed by the federal and state governments.
They argued that the only way to ensure development in the rural areas is by granting autonomy to local government councils. They said that in the absence of LG autonomy, the poor living in many rural communities may never feel the impact of governance.
One protester, Osazuwa Timmy-Obaseki, who lives in Lagos, remarked that sustainable development for people at the grassroots would not be guaranteed, if those at the helms of the affairs at the LG level turned puppets of state governments.
“If we want those at the grassroots to enjoy dividends of democracy, then those who govern at that level must be more than mere puppets in the hands of puppet-masters.
“There can be no sustainable change or development without genuine leadership and no genuine leadership can manifest at the LG level without autonomy. Granting LGs autonomy is a non-negotiable issue of very high importance,” Timmy-Obaseki wrote after signing the petition.''