JayFM News Commentary: Ensuring Effective Local Government Autonomy in Plateau State
Written by Joey Shekwonuzhibo on September 21, 2022
Ensuring effective Local Government Autonomy in Plateau state is the focus of today’s news Commentary. It is written by Joseph Gilbert of our News and Current Affairs Department
Last week, the Chairman of Langtang North Local Area of Plateau State, Bitrus Zulfa Rimven, whose position is in dispute was impeached from office by the legislative arm of the council.
The impeachment was consequent upon notice of acts of gross misconduct and corrupt allegations levelled against him by the legislative council
According to reports, the ousted chairman, who was served with an impeachment notice on August 31, 2022, failed to respond to the allegations and thereafter 14 out of 18 councillors appended their signatures which eventually led to his removal.
However, about two days after the impeachment, the Plateau State House of Assembly nullified the action of the Councillors.
The House of Assembly declared that the purported impeachment was null and void, and directed that the status quo should be maintained, pending the outcome of a committee’s investigation.
This kind of impeachment carried out by Councillors and reversal of their actions by outside forces almost immediately is not the first in recent time in the state.
On July 2, 2022, the state chapter of the All Progressive Congress in a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Sylvanus Naming nullified the impeachment of three local government chairmen in the state and called for maintenance of the status quo.
This was after the legislative arms of Jos North, Mangu and Langtang North local government areas of Plateau state r impeached their respective chairmen over alleged high handedness and other misdemeanours.
If there is anything which the series of impeachment and counter-impeachment has brought out to the fore, it is the question of autonomy at the local government levels.
The question can be asked: To what extent is the Local Government autonomous in Plateau state?
Is the Local Government autonomy working which the state governor, Simon Lalong claimed to have granted?
At the federal level, the Legislature and Judiciary enjoy relative independence, except in instances where their leaderships voluntarily surrender their independence to the Executive for whatever gain.
But at the state level, their independence is hampered by the fact that they still depend on the state purse, which is controlled by the Executive, to operate.
This and other challenges are said to be destroying the essence of local government.
Local government autonomy has been widely peddled as the touchstone for effective governance of the grassroots.
Therefore ,If Local Government autonomy is the way forward, there must be enough inbuilt checks and balances that will stop further interference by outside forces in their affairs including the impeachment of non performing chairmen.