Afenifere: Local Govt Autonomy Ploy to Grab Land for Fulani Herdsmen
Lambasts South-west Senators
The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) yesterday disclosed that the proposed bills to grant autonomy to 774 local government areas (LGAs) under the ongoing constitution amendment exercise was a ploy to grab land for Fulani herdsmen in all states of the federation.
The ARG, a socio-political organisation, therefore, asked the 36 State Houses of Assembly to through the proposed bills to grant autonomy to all local government independent under the on-going amendment of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly.
The group rejected the proposed bills in a statement by its National Chairman, Hon. Olawale Oshun, noting that the proposals “will destroy our federalism and turn it effectively into a unitary state.”
The group said the National Assembly had passed two bills, which it said, sought to abrogate Joint Allocation Accounts Committee and another one to guarantee funding only for LGAs with democratically elected executives.
These two bills, if passed by at least 24 state Houses of Assembly, will make LGAs independent of state governments, noting that there “are traps hidden in the Land Use Act which the National Assembly cleverly refused to remove from the 1999 Constitution.”
As contained in its statement, the ARG cited section 6(1) (b), which states that it shall be lawful for a local government in respect of land not in an urban area...to grant customary right of occupancy to any person or organisation for the use of land for grazing purposes and such other purposes ancillary to agricultural purposes...”
The group explained that the customary right of occupancy could be as much as 500 hectares if granted for agricultural purposes, or 5,000 hectares if granted for grazing purposes.
It noted that the main reason for the push “to remove LGA from under the control of state governments is to make this clause in the Land Use Act enforceable.
“The so called autonomy therefore is a Greek Gift and states with recent history of herdsmen attack had better collaborate with other states to reject it. ARG will work with states in the southwest to totally agitate against it.”
It noted that the advocates of autonomy for LGAs need “to convince Nigerians of the benefit of such, despite the glaring fact that it is an aberration in any federalism and it works against development.
“If Nigeria is yet to get the possible maximum good governance from 36 executive powers granted to states, what will creating additional 774 executive powers bring? Total waste and failure.
“This plan will further destroy federalism in Nigeria and turn it effectively into a unitary state. However, we must remind Nigerians that there is nothing the federal government has taken over, since the enactment of the Unification Decree 34 of 1966, that has flourished.”
It cited the example of Liberty Stadium in Ibadan, noting that the stadium “had started hosting international boxing fight before it was taken over. Today, it cannot even host national championships.
“In the same vein are WNTV, Obafemi Awolowo University, Cocoa Research Institute (CRIN), Moore Plantation and many other notable institutions. We can assure you that LGAs will be worse off if this so called autonomy is allowed to pass.