The 774 local governments in Nigeria have rejected the 23 percent revenue sharing formula proposed by state governors.
The council chairmen under the aegis of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria demanded 35 percent from federal revenue.
Alabi David, ALGON’s National President, told Punch in an interview that their 35 percent demand became imperative following the huge responsibilities of the councils.
He argued that the present system where the federal government got the highest allocation was not good for the country in terms of infrastructural development.
He stressed that with the reality on the ground, the local governments should get the highest allocation followed by the states while the federal government should get the least percentage.
This, he said, would enable the local governments to tackle issues of insecurity and other issues pertinent to development in their areas.
He explained: “We should get not less than 35 percent. The current allocation sharing formula is supposed to be the other way round. At the moment, the Federal Government is getting the highest allocation, whereas we are getting only 20.6 percent. It ought to be the other way round because the aggregate of the development that you have in local government areas make a state. If you go to some local government areas, we do not even have roads.
“So, we have a lot of infrastructural deficit in all the local government areas in the country. To tackle these infrastructural challenges, the councils need a lot of money and that is why we asking for more.”
The ALGON president argued that the overheads of the local governments had eaten deep into their capital and that the paucity of funds had not allowed the local governments to carry out their obligations to the public.
He said: “You will discover that we spend so much money on teachers’ salaries as well as staff salaries. States cannot take over primary education from us; it is our statutory responsibility and we have the capacity and capabilities to handle it.
“But, if there is a proper review of the sharing formula and more money comes to the local government areas, then the development in the local councils will be meaningful. Again, when we talk about security in Nigeria, how do we tackle insecurity? You can tackle insecurity right from the local government level.
“The model that we are using at the moment is the top-bottom system and that is why development is not going round the whole of the country. So, if we adopt the bottom-top approach, we would have a lot of development at the grassroots level and we are not asking for too much.
“If it is a minimum of 35 percent that comes to the councils, then we are going to have meaningful development in Nigeria. I can assure you that we can tackle insecurity from the local government level in collaboration with major stakeholders. The councils are critical stakeholders to work with in order to solve security challenges facing Nigeria. They are not just critical stakeholders but also a major one in Nigeria.”
“We can tackle insecurity from the local government area because any crime that is committed today in any part of Nigeria definitely took place at a ward in a local government. So, you will see that if that responsibility is given to the local government, they can tackle it.”
He further argued that profiling of persons and registration of all domestic staff members could be done with ease at the local government level, noting that such could help in tackling insecurity.
“Why can’t we equip all the police stations in all the local government areas as well as profiling of persons and criminals?” he stated.