Afenifere: Lo­cal Govt Au­ton­omy Ploy to Grab Land for Fu­lani Herds­men

Lam­basts South-west Sen­a­tors

THISDAY - - NEWSXTRA - Gboyega Akin­sanmi Shola Oyeyipo

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.

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