Nigeria: Governors' Forum, Algon Oppose Moves to Reduce LG Tenure
All Africa
June 15, 2009

by Tunde Sanni

NGF Chairman Bukola Saraki addresses panel at NDI
Copyright © National Democratic Institute

Ibadan — Moves by some state houses of assembly to reduce the tenure of local government chairmen and councilors from three to two years have begun to generate ripples and may cause discontent between the executive and legislative arms of government.

Chairman of the Governors' Forum and Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said the plan by some state legislative houses to reduce the tenure of the council chiefs was illegal and baseless.

Saraki spoke just as the Chairman of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Kwara State chapter, Mr. Toyin Sanusi, hinted that the national executive of ALGON was becoming worried over frosty relationship between some state lawmakers and council chiefs.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Howard Jeter accompanied NGF at the meeting
Copyright © National Democratic Institute

According to him, ALGON had scheduled a meeting for Abuja later this month to discuss the development.

Some states including Oyo have set machinery in motion to reduce the tenure of council chiefs from three to two years on account of non-performance.

Saraki and Sanusi spoke with newsmen in separate chats in Ibadan when they came to express their condolences to the family of the deceased Oyo State Commissioner for Social Development, Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Helen Popoola.

They argued that two years would be too short for an elected council chairman to make a mark at the grassroots.

Saraki, who condemned the lawmakers championing the reduction of the tenure of local government officials in their states, said: "I do not fully understand what exactly they are trying to reduce it to. I don't believe that anything short of the present duration will permit any meaningful contribution to the development of any level of government.

Chris Fomunyoh (center), NDI's senior associate for Africa, speaks to the visiting governors with Barrie Hoffman (left), NDI's deputy regional director for Central and
West Africa
Copyright © National Democratic Institute

"It takes time to actually appreciate the process of what it takes to administer. And I know also there is the time to prepare for election."

The chairman of the Governors' Forum added: "If they are reducing it to less than three years, by and large, they are saying that the local government chairman is elected, maybe, for a year and half and that is senseless. There won't be any important thing to contribute to the system."

Sanusi on his part expressed shock at the attempts by the lawmakers to reduce their tenure stating that such would rubbish democracy at the grass-roots level.

"We are surprised at these actions lately and by this action, they just want democracy at the local level to be reduced to mere play and nothing. ALGON at the national level would be meeting later this month and one of the issues on the agenda is this planned reduction of tenure thing.

Governors from the NGF and NDI staff gather at the conclusion of the event
Copyright © National Democratic Institute

The Ilorin-West council chief disagreed with the lawmakers who accused the council chiefs of non-performance, stating that independent monitoring committees from both the Senate and ALGON national headquarters had been mandated to visit all the 774 councils and assess them for merit awards.

"If they are accusing some of us of non-performance, then I wonder what becomes of the monitoring teams from the Senate and the ALGON in Abuja which are on the ground in some council areas now," he said.

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