By Ahuraka Isah, Solomon Ayado and Amina Alhassan, Abuja
Senate said yesterday that the autonomy of the Local Government Areas (LGAs) is meaningless even if the joint account with state governments is abolished if the elections into LGAs are being conducted by the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC).
Consequently, the upper chamber added as the 33rd item or billin the constitution amendment for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct local government elections.
Senator Ekweremadu’s report originally had 32 items, including autonomy for local government areas, but did not propose INEC to conduct LGAs elections.If passed into law, the 1999 Constitution will be striping states of powers to constitute electoral commissions or SIEC to conduct local government elections.
The alteration is part of constitutional reforms by the legislature to make local governments become autonomous and independent of the states.
While contributing to the debate on constitutional review, Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye said the proposal made by the Special Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to the effect that the state- local government joint account be separated for the purpose of guaranteeing local government autonomy cannot be achieved as long as the SIEC is allowed to be conducting LGAs elections.
‘’ How do we speak of local government autonomy, without addressing the foundation? States has to be stripped of the power to constitute state electoral commissions to conduct local government elections. The State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) which is constituted by the state government is practically a joke.