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AGF Speaks On Scrapping State Electoral Commissions

Posted by Amarachi on Mon 27th May, 2024 -

Fagbemi criticized the current framework, noting that governors exploit gaps in the 1999 Constitution to undermine local government autonomy.

Lateef Fagbemi

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, has called for the elimination of State Electoral Commissions, stating that it causes significant barriers to the development of local governments in the country.

Fagbemi expressed these views during a discourse on national security challenges and good governance at the local government levels, held in Abuja on Monday.

The event was organized by the House of Representatives under the theme: ‘Nigeria’s Security Challenges And Good Governance At The Local Government Levels.’

Fagbemi criticized the current framework, noting that governors exploit gaps in the 1999 Constitution to undermine local government autonomy.

He highlighted specific sections of the Constitution, including Section 7(1), Section 83(3), and Section 7(5), which, he argued, provide governors with undue leverage over local governments.

According to the Attorney General, this exploitation has led to governors’ control over the appointment of local government leaders through state electoral commissions and caretaker committees rather than democratic elections.

This practice, he claimed, denies grassroots populations the benefits of effective and representative local governance.

“The most prominent abuse of local government administration is through the use of state electoral commissions that conduct sham elections or when governors appoint caretaker leadership instead of allowing elected representatives,” Fagbemi stated.

He also criticized the misuse of state/local government joint accounts, which he described as a form of fiscal emasculation that impoverishes local governments by restricting their access to federal allocations.

In his call to action, Fagbemi urged the scrapping of state electoral commissions to facilitate more democratic processes at the local government level.

He also emphasized the need for a robust constitutional amendment to remove the legal barriers that currently hinder the operational and financial independence of local governments.

He argued that these reforms are crucial for enhancing national security and governance, as empowered local governments play a vital role in addressing community-level issues and contributing to overall national stability.

He said, “To achieve this, many experts have proposed that there is need for the scrapping of the state independent electoral commission. Their functions and powers should be transferred to the independent national electoral commission because the state independent electoral commission remain an appendage to every incumbent governor. This is perceived as the root cause of the problem of local government administration in Nigeria.”

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