Ex-chairman seeks probe of alleged shady handling of councils’ funds
FORMER Chairman of Calabar South Local Council of Cross River State, Chief Ekeng Henshaw, has asked President Muhamadu Buhari to investigate allocations to councils, insinuating that the third tier of government was being short-changed. The situation, he noted, accounts for their inability to undertake capital projects in the communities.
In an interview with The Guardian, Henshaw sought autonomy for the councils so they could be financial buoyant to execute projects that impact directly on the people at the grassroots.
Describing the system as corrupt, he said: “I so wish President Muhamadu Buhari to use the power of his office to get the governors to enforce the independence of local governments. This, I believe will go a long way to alleviate the suffering we are all experiencing in Nigeria.
“The President should ask them (governors) what they are doing with local government funds. If they feel we should not have local governments, let Nigerians vote and decide. Constitutionally, that money is allocated to the local government, why does the state government hold them back? Let local governments have access to their funds and also do whatever they can do with them,” he stressed.
The ex-council boss contended that the system does not mandate the Ministry of Local Government Affairs to carry out major projects in the localities.
He added: “The most important challenge is lack of funding. Severally, we collected capital projects, salaries, sometimes impress to run the office but no money for capital projects and some of the projects were carried out because I had to really go out of my way to make sure that I executed those projects to meet up the electoral promise I gave to the people of Calabar South.
“But when you don’t have funds, you cannot do anything. You cannot support the local communities, you cannot support the traditional council, you cannot support the educational council and you cannot support the primary healthcare. So, my take is for us to have autonomous local governments.
“The local government is not remembered but these moneys are sent from the Federation Account to the Ministry of Local Government Affairs. Apart from salaries, why can’t the local government have at least N20 million to carry out a capital project?” Henshaw queried.