Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday lashed out at governors who interfere with the affairs of local government councils.
Jonathan particularly condemned the system whereby governors appoint council chairmen and councillors instead of allowing the people to choose their leaders through elections.
The former president said if he were a member of the National Assembly, he would mobilise members to amend sections in the 1999 Constitution that would totally prohibit the appointment of LGA chairmen and make the people at the grassroots level decide who leads them through elections.
The ex-president spoke on Thursday when the national and state executives of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) paid him a courtesy visit in his country home, Otuoke, Bayelsa State.
NULGE officials had visited Jonathan to solicit his support towards stopping a bill seeking to delist the LGA structure from the 1999 Constitution.
According to Jonathan, the local government system is the oldest globally accepted means through which government impacts positively the lives of the people at the grassroots level.
He said any bill targeted at delisting it from the constitution was an abuse of democratic tenets and procedures.
He further urged governors to refrain from directly getting involved in the day-to-day running of local government affairs because their actions make governance unreliable, unacceptable and undependable at the grassroots level.
Jonathan said: “The problem with Nigeria is that our local government structure is still very weak. And whatever restructuring we are talking about, finally, Nigerians must sit down to discuss and the issue of LGA autonomy must be considered.
“As long as we have weak local governments, we would have difficulty managing this country. The way it is now, the person who runs the state, runs the LGAs and that makes nonsense of the whole concept of the third tier of government.
“The president should manage the nation, governors should manage the states and chairmen should be allowed to run the local councils.
“And until we are able to do that, it would be difficult to impact the people at the grassroots level. It is only through local councils that the dividends of democracy can permeate uniformly into the society. And all of us must advocate for this right.”
He went on: “The local government councils must be strong, autonomous and allowed to generate its own revenue. If I were in the Senate, I would have mobilised members to ensure that we amend the constitution in a way that would prohibit the appointment of chairmen to run governance at the local council level.
“The issue of appointment now makes local government councils look like a part of the state’s administrative structure but that is not what ought to be the case. This is an abuse of democracy. So this appointment system has made council chairmen become like aides to the governor and we must discourage that.”
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Return Of Amosun’s Loyalists: Abiodun Displayed Exemplary Political Maturity – Group
A youth group within the All Progressives Congress (APC), APC Progressive Front, has commended Governor Dapo Abiodun for what it termed an exemplary attribute of political maturity he displayed over the weekend.
It would be recalled that hundreds of APC members, loyal to ex-governor Ibikunle Amosun, across all the 20 local governments in the State, led by the one-time Chairman of the party, Chief Derin Adebiyi, were on Friday received back to the mainstream of the party by Abiodun, alongside the Chairman of APC in the State, Chief Yemi Sanusi, and other party bigwigs.
In a statement signed on Sunday by its coordinator, Rasheed Sanusi, and made available to newsmen in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the group lauded the leadership capacity displayed by the governor, saying it was unprecedented in the political space of the state
According to the statement, the governor has proved his capacity as a leading figure in progressive politics beyond every reasonable doubt, adding that it is now incumbent on the returnees to reciprocate the gesture and prove their loyalty to the party.
It opined that the action of the governor has given new hope of a better future to the party in the state and an undiluted testament that APC is truly a progressive party with clear-cut ideology based on popular interest.
“Prince Dapo Abiodun has truly proved himself as a leading democrat among his contemporaries. He has achieved what other leaders before him could not achieve; he has indeed redefined progressive politics in Ogun State.
“The Governor has exhibited unprecedented magnanimity in power and in governance. No one could have imagined that a governor of a state would navigate such a level of gang-up and conspiracy within the party to win an election, and after the victory, he decided to reconcile with those who worked against him and warmly received them back to the party.
“The Governor has taught us a big lesson of inclusive governance and purposeful leadership. He deserves an award in progressive leadership. He remains an institution to study,” the statement read.
The statement further noted that the party remains a formidable force in the state with focus on aggressive development of infrastructure and human capital through the ‘Building our future together’ agenda of the governor.
Thousands Dump Amosun, Re-Align With Abiodun
Thousands of loyalists of former governor Ibikunle Amosun from the 20 local government areas of Ogun State have rejoined the mainstream of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by the State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Receiving the returnees led by the factional Chairman of the Amosun-led party Executive at the Presidential Lodge, Abeokuta, the State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun commended them for their loyalty and being steadfast with what they believed in.
The governor said: “I want to congratulate your sense of loyalty to leadership, which I will say is not only commendable, it is enviable.
“This is a culture that we must promote and entrench. It is a culture that is fast eroding; it is a culture that we are fast losing. Loyalty is 100 per cent.
“For some others, they move once things are not working well, but for you, you stay put. This sense of loyalty is worthy of emulation. We must appreciate the fact that there can only be one leader in a party at a time.
“Even when we have ambitions and desires, we must subordinate ourselves 100% to leadership and believe that it is in that subordination that will allow us to flourish and achieve our objectives, our dreams, our desires and aspirations, not by forming factions or by breaking away.
“Because by so doing, it only weakens the fabric of that collective union that we call our party. You must appreciate that there can be only one leader of the party at a time in the state, and that leader is the governor.
“As the leader of the party, I appreciate the task bestowed on me and it is my duty to work towards individual and collective welfare of our members,” the governor noted.
The governor urged all members to put the past behind them and work towards repositioning the party to achieve its aims and work for the socio-economic development of the state.
“Let us put the past behind us. Let us promote what unites us as a family. I welcome you back. The future of Ogun State is in your hands and it is for us for the taking. The same joy with which the father of the prodigal son received his lost son back home, the same way I receive you today.
“To those who did not leave, please let us receive our brothers and sisters back. To those who are joining us, please let us display a sense of loyalty. I can assure you, you will be fully integrated. ”
The Chairman of the State All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Yemi Sanusi, said in every human relationship, there is bound to be disagreement, adding that even in time of war, there is always a place for peaceful settlement of conflict, calling the returnees to fully integrate themselves with other members of the party.
Leader of the returnees, Chief Derin Adebiyi, said they had all agreed to return to the mainstream to contribute to the development of the party and the state in general, thanking the governor and the party members for receiving them back.
BREAKING: Atiku Rejects Tribunal’s Judgement, Set For Supreme Court
The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election Atiku Abubakar has rejected the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal judgement .
The judgement affirmed the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the February 25, 2023, presidential election.
Atiku said the tribunal judgement failed to restore confidence.
“Though the judgement of yesterday is respected, it is a judgement I refused to accept. I refused to accept the judgement because I believe it is bereft of substantial justice,” Atiku said while addressing a press conference at the PDP headquarters in Abuja.
The tribunal threw out the case of Atiku, who is the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, and upheld the victory of Tinubu.
Both Atiku and Obi rejected Wednesday’s judgment of the tribunal affirming the election of Tinubu. The Legal Adviser to the Labour Party, Kehinde Edun, vowed to challenge the judgment at the Supreme Court.
Also, Atiku’s Lead Counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, said he had received instructions from his client to file an appeal at the Supreme Court.
He said “The judgment has been delivered but we have not received justice. Luckily, the law has given us leverage to go on appeal to the Supreme Court. We have instructions from our clients to go to the Supreme Court. The struggle continues.”
The PEPT which began sitting at 9.40am at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, ruled that the petition filed by Atiku and Obi and their parties had no merit and unanimously upheld Tinubu’s electoral victory in the February 25 presidential election.
The five-member panel took turns to dismiss the petitions presented by Atiku and Obi against the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission on March 1, 2023.
The judgment was delivered by the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Haruna Tsammani, assisted by other members of the panel-Justices Stephen Adah, Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf, Moses Ugo, and Abba Mohammed.
But addressing a press conference on Thursday, Atiku said he was not new to legal battle and he would continue to explore the judiciary for respite.
“However, the disappointment in the verdict of the court can never destroy my confidence in the judiciary.
“Consequently, I have asked my lawyers to activate my constitutionally guaranteed rights of appeal to the higher court, which in this instance, is the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
He added, “My decision to go to court is anchored in my belief that the court is the sanctuary of justice. The journey of my political career, as you know, holds so much to the courage and fearless decisions of our judiciary.
“Indeed, I am no stranger to legal battles, and I can say that I have a fair idea of how the court system works. All through my career as a politician, I have been a fighter, and I must say that I have found the judiciary as a worthy pillar to rest on in the pursuit of justice.
“The last presidential election in our country and the way it was managed by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, leaves behind unenviable precedents, which I believe the courts have a duty to redress.
“Our gains in ensuring transparent elections through the deployment of technology was heavily compromised by INEC in the way it managed the last presidential election, and I am afraid that the judgement of the court as rendered by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal yesterday, failed to restore confidence in our dreams of free and fair elections devoid of human manipulations.
“Like I did say at the beginning of this legal battle when I instructed my lawyers to file my petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election, my ultimate goal in this pursuit is to ensure that democracy is further strengthened through the principles and processes of fair hearing.”
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