Inside Sources: How governors destroyed local governments in Nigeria — Mamora

Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora

State governors have been accused of destroying the Local Government administration in Nigeria with the imposition of caretaker chairmen on the people at the grassroots while failing to allow the conduct of free and fair elections at the local councils.

Senator Olorunnimbe Momora, a former Minister of Health under the Buhari Administration from 2022 to 2023 made the accusation as he was featured on the “Inside Sources” with Laolu Akande which aired on Channels TV on Friday, January 19, 2024.

Mamora, who had served as speaker in the Lagos Assembly from June 1999 to June 2003 said, “If I would be very frank, the governors destroyed the local governments. That’s the truth. Don’t forget I was very much involved. Local government chairmen were elected under Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1998 with a three-year tenure which should have terminated in 2001 but towards the end of the termination of the tenure, the local government chairmen under the aegis of ALGON started making moves to the National Assembly then headed by Anyim Pius Anyim as Senate President and Ghali Na’aaba (of blessed memory) as the Speaker of the House.

“They (LG chairmen) were asking for the extension of their tenure to be four years in line with the state and the federal. That was the beginning.”

Mamore, also a former chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly in 2001, said the move was challenged “because Section 7 of the Constitution has placed everything in the local governments under the state through laws made by the state house of assembly.”

ALSO READ: Kidnapping: Declare war on insecurity now, ‘Inside Sources’ anchor, Akande, tells Tinubu

“We challenged it because it was like trying to usurp the powers of the state houses of assembly,” he said.

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly between June 1999 and June 2003, said the National Assembly went ahead with the bill to make local government chairmen tenure four years and he and his then colleague-speakers went to court.

“While the case was then in court because of the interest of the governors, they came in to join, and because they joined, the case was taken straight to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ruled that the National Assembly had no business in determining the tenure,” he said.

The ex-Senator for Lagos East Senatorial District from June 2003 to June 2003 said then President Olusegun Obasanjo “invited us speakers to the Villa and appealed to us because their tenure was about ending, and new local government chairmen were yet to be elected”.

“That was when he (Obasanjo) then persuaded us that each state should go and put in place a kind of stop-gap situation, that was what led to the state making laws for caretaker committees which was supposed to be a temporary thing to take care of that lacuna, that is the tenure of the local governments finishing and the new one yet to be elected.

“That is the genesis of caretaker committees which the governors now abuse. You now see it all over the place, something which was supposed to be in the interim now contravenes Section 7 of the constitution that talks about democratically elected chairmen,” he added.

According to the statesman, elections hardly take place in the local governments and even where elections are held, opposition parties don’t win but the “governors’ linkmen and partymen” sweep all the LG polls.

He said the abuse of the caretaker model gave birth to the issue of LG funds allegedly held by some governors.