From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Benue State chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and former State Commissioner, John Tondu, have claimed that the state governors’ failure to grant full autonomy to the Local Government Areas in the country, made them culpable for the escalating insecurity in the country.
Tondu, a former Benue Commissioner for Land and Survey, also alleged that the governors making huge deductions from the Local Governments has not only been responsible for the crippling activities in the grassroots but also for the escalating insecurity in the grassroots.
He made the allegations on Tuesday in Abuja after receiving an award of recognition from the National Association of Northern Nigerian Students as an Icon of Societal Development.
He lamented that the LGAs in the country are moribund because the governors have done everything to stifle their autonomy, urging the National Assembly to do everything possible to sustain the third tier government as the government closer to the people whose autonomy should be guaranteed by all means.
‘It is the state governors that are responsible for the insecurity in this country today. Because, if the local government system is functional to an extent, it will be in a position, to identify where criminals are hiding, considering the fact that they recruit local vigilantes that know every corner of the LGA.
‘But they are not empowered to do that. So, even if they are willing they won’t be able to achieve that because the state governors are taking the resources meant for the local government. They made the local government chairmen sign despite the President’s determination to make sure that money meant for the LGAs goes to them directly.
‘The state governors make the local government chairmen sign these funds into a joint account that is used for the purposes they are meant for. Go into the local government and find out exactly the wage bill. Take two to three LGAs as a case study. What exactly is the wage bill of such local government? And how much is the monthly allocation for that local government?
‘If you are able to establish how much is the monthly wage bill of the local government, then ask the chairmen about the surplus of this money. How do they utilise it for this period they are the chairmen, there is no single capital project that you can point to. And this money is also not there. How will you explain? You will come back and tell me the governors are responsible for the 85-95 per cent of the insecurity that we are facing as a nation today,’ he noted.
He maintained that even if the LGAs are fixed, the insecurity will still not be addressed, arguing that it is a deliberate policy of the governors to ensure they are not working for the interest of the people.
He said it is sad that despite the police, DSS and Civil Defence being in the local government councils, little is known about them because hardly will the governors share their security votes with the local government chairman.
‘In fact, the challenge we have as it concerns insecurity today is because the third tier of government is not working. Some of us were born and brought up in the village. And we know how and when the local government system was effective. The local government chairman was elected by the people and not selected by the governors. I will take you back to the insecurity, we are talking about today. For instance, in each local government headquarters, you have the police and the Department of State Services (DSS). You have the NSCDC.
‘But I will tell you that because I have the privilege of working in government, I will tell you for free that the local government chairman doesn’t have access to 2 million naira as security votes in that LGA.
‘Where a local government chairman will need to spend N2 million on issues of security in a state, he will have to get across to the governor if such an approval will be given for him to be able to access the N2 million,’ he said.