Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has stated that the state Houses of Assembly and not the National Assembly should be held responsible for the delayed autonomy for local governments in Nigeria.
He said this in Abuja on Monday while answering questions from journalists during a leadership training sponsored by Ndudi Elumelu, Minority Leader of the House, for council chairmen and councillors from Delta State.
Gbajabiamila recalled how the eighth National Assembly passed a bill to grant autonomy to the local governments, but the proposal did not get the nod of two-thirds of the states to scale through.
On what the National Assembly is doing to prevent the third tier of government from going into extinction, the speaker said: “It is not for us as legislators (of the National Assembly) to do that. I am sure you are surprised, but it is actually for the people to address, the reason being that we have a constitutional amendment, we will throw it to the people and they will make their decision.
“We did it the last time but we went back to the states and we couldn’t get two-thirds. There is a process; we followed due process. We amended it (the Constitution) the last time but two-thirds of the states did not agree with us.
“So, it is the people that will decide whether they want autonomy or not. We will do what we need to do as the Constitution provides.”
Gbajabiamiola expressed optimism that at the end of the training, the council officials would have received a lot of education on what leadership is all about.
“Some people are born leaders, some learn to acquire leadership but either way; whether you are born a leader or you acquire it, you have to go do that training exercise to be able to use your experiences and qualities you have in order to maximise your skills. And what better place to start than with the local government councillors? As you all know, that is the bedrock of our society,” Gbajabiamila noted.