Council elections is a mockery of democracy in Nigeria, says Dogara

Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara PHOTO: TWITTER/DOGARA

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has described the conduct of local government elections in Nigeria as a shame and mockery of democracy. Dogara, in a meeting with senior journalists in Abuja said the current system is not working. “If we keep sticking to it and expecting it to work someday, I don’t know who termed it as the very definition of foolishness.”

He said the local government elections have benefitted only those who constituted themselves into middlemen to grab the resources meant for the development of the grassroots.

The speaker accused the state electoral commissions of promoting a mockery of democracy by organizing elections where only one political party wins by sweeping all the votes.

According to him, “I have never seen where democracy is mocked like in Nigerian local government elections, so I don’t see how we can continue to mock ourselves that we are practicing democracy at the third tier of government.”

He posited that as long as the resources appropriated to local government are mismanaged by a powerful few, so long would it remain the bane of development in Nigeria. If local governments are able to achieve autonomy, Dogara believes it will improve the pool of quality leadership that will manage the resources at that level more efficiently and at the end of the day, “we can have an oasis of prosperity in the desert of nothingness and instead of all our people migrating to the cities, they will be able to find some kind of prosperity at the local level that can sustain them.’’

He disclosed that repeated efforts to grant autonomy to local governments through constitutional reviews have remained a mirage because of vested interests. Reacting to the fresh constitutional effort to free the third tier government, he said, “If care is not taken, it will still not scale through. It will take a general resolve from Nigerians, the media, civil society organisations, local government staff to insist on their state assemblies that when the bill is submitted to them, they must pass it.”

He cited the example of value added tax (VAT), where the Federal Government benefits only 15 per cent while 85 per cent go to the states and local governments where the bulk of this fund is believed to be diverted and misappropriated.

Meanwhile, Dogara has assured pensioners that the House of Representatives will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to work out a definite plan to offset outstanding pension liabilities which currently stands at over N200 billion.

He also disclosed that the House will today consider a motion to invite key players in charge of pension matters to appear in plenary next week Thursday and speak on how they plan to clear the pension liabilities.

He spoke when he received a delegation from the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, led by its national president, Dr. Abel Afolayan. The Speaker emphasised that all pensions due to retired public service workers must be paid because it is a constitutionally provided right.

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