*Auditor–General, Service Commissions now in place
By Sandra Onyekwere
Nigeria’s National Assembly (NASS) on Tuesday, granted full financial and administrative autonomy to all the 774 local council authorities across Nigeria by amending section 124 of the Constitution. INEC is to now conduct all elections in the country by the new amendment.
The section provides a consequential provision for the making of the local councils, a full third tier government without undue interference from the state governments.
The amendment was one of the 22 others approved by the House of Representatives last week and ratified by the Senate on Tuesday.
Both chambers had through a conference committee harmonised versions of the amendments into the Constitution carried out by each of them last month.
By the development, the National Assembly had ratified all the 23 clauses and sections that had been amended by both chambers.
The newly amended document which would be sent to States Houses of Assembly, for approval, also approved the creation of the Office of Auditor–General of the Local Government as well as the State Local Government Service Commission.
The section equally deleted the State Independent Electoral Commission from the constitution thereby vesting the powers to conduct council elections on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It however, retained the immunity clause in the constitution for the President and Governors by adopting the Senate version of the amendments on the issue and rejected the House of Representatives version which removed the immunity clause.
The National Assembly also made provisions for Independent candidacy in future elections in Nigeria by amending sections 65 and 106 of the 1999 constitution.
Majority of the third tier of government in the country has been mired in different shades of laws propagated by the State Houses of Assembly which has practically crippled the local government areas.
During elections, the State Independent Electoral Commissions had been a tool in the hands of the state Government and which are severally accused of pandering the results to suit the whims and caprices of the State government thereby not allowing deepening of democracy in that genre. With the amendments when it scales through, more meaningly developments may be intensified at that sector of the nation.