A former senator, Olorunnimbe Mamora, has identified the imposition of caretaker committees and the failure to conduct free and fair elections as the means and ways governors destroyed the local government administration in various states.
In an interview with Channels Television on Friday, the former Minister of Health Mamora, said, “the governors destroyed the local governments. That’s the truth. Don’t forget, I was very much involved.”
According to Mamora, who represented Lagos East Senatorial District from June 2003 to June 2003, elections hardly take place in the local government and when elections are held, opposition parties don’t win, but the “governors’ linkmen and partymen”.
He said the abuse of the caretaker model gave birth to the issue of local government funds allegedly held by some governors.
He noted further that “local government chairmen were elected under Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1998 with a three-year tenure, which should have terminated in 2001.
“But towards the end of the termination of the tenure, the local government chairmen under the aegis of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), started making moves to the National Assembly, then headed by Anyim Pius Anyim as Senate President and the late Ghali Na’Abba as the Speaker of the House.”
According to him, the local government chairmen started “asking for the extension of their tenure to be four years in line with the state and the federal. That was the beginning.”
Mamore, who was the Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly in 2001, said the move was challenged “because Section 7 of the Constitution has placed everything in the local governments under the state through laws made by the state house of assembly.”
“We challenged it because it was like trying to usurp the powers of the state houses of assembly,” he said.
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly between June 1999 and June 2003 said the National Assembly went ahead with the bill to make local government chairmen tenured for four years, and he and his then colleague-speakers went to court.
“While the case was then in court because of the interest of the governors, they came in to join, and because they joined, the case was taken straight to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ruled that the National Assembly had no business in determining the tenure.”
“That was when he (Obasanjo) then persuaded us that each state should go and put in place a kind of stop-gap situation; that was what led to the state making laws for caretaker committees, which were supposed to be a temporary thing to take care of that lacuna, that is, the tenure of the local governments finishing and the new one yet to be elected.
“That is the genesis of caretaker committees, which the governors now abuse. You now see it all over the place; something which was supposed to be in the interim now contravenes Section 7 of the constitution that talks about democratically elected chairmen,” he said.