Group writes President, lauds NFIU on financial autonomy for councils

The Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) has written President Muhammadu Buhari to disregard the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) on financial autonomy for local councils.

It, however, lauded the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) for taking a step in securing independence for the third tier of government effective June 1.

In a statement at the weekend in Owerri, the group’s Communication Officer, Philip Inyang, and its Executive Director Dr. Walter Duru, said: “We have observed with shock, the needless controversy over the recent directive by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) on the management of the accounts of local governments in Nigeria. We are aware that the unit said the effective date for the new regulation on local government funds remains June 1. The move would make the joint account system currently in use by state and local governments only exist for the receipt of allocations from the federation account but not for disbursement.

“With the guideline, governors may lose control of local government funds. The new rule makes provision of a cumulative cash withdrawal not exceeding N500,000 per day. The new measure was introduced to restore financial autonomy.

“We are not surprised at the outburst of some governors in Nigeria over the latest development, particularly as the new directive would take away control of the age-long mismanaged local government funds from them.”

MIIVOC maintained: “There is no gainsaying the fact that local government funds in Nigeria have been mismanaged over the years by state governments/governors.

This development has practically defeated the primary objective of creating the councils as the third tier of government.

“The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria no doubt provides for joint account for state and local governments. However, it holds that no debit is allowed on any local government funds unless and until the funds are credited to the bank account of a local government.

“The new NFIU directive does not in any way violate the provisions of the 1999 constitution. It rather strengthens it. The receipt of allocations from the federation account has not been tampered with. The crux is disbursement.

“Successive state governments in Nigeria have continuously violated the provisions of the constitution by not obeying its wordings.”

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