MINISTERS are considering abolishing state and local governments joint accounts under a programme to make the country’s 774 local government areas independent of governors and autonomous.
At the moment, Nigeria’s local governments are beholden to the state’s 36 governors who receive their allocations from the federal government on their behalf. In many instances, state governors do not release funds to local governments and some of them do not even have budgets, making it impossible for them to carry out any programmes.
To address the matter, Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the federal government, said that local governments will be given freedom as it was necessary for grassroots development. He added that the federal government will achieve this by abolishing state and local governments joint accounts through constitutional means.
Speaking at a conference on local governments, organised by SEGNIP Promotions and the Department of State and Local Government Affairs, of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Mustapha described the joint accounts as inglorious. He added that in the past, the accounts have been grossly abused, leading to major frictions.
This is not the first time the federal government is making similar accusations about state governments. Earlier this year, the federal government gave a directive to banks to stop transactions on such accounts but the move was opposed by governors, leading to at least two law suits.
Federal government ministers have given the newly established Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit the task of dismantling the joint accounts. Despite the opposition by governors, however, it appears that the federal government is going on with its agenda with regards to local government finances.