The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly (AKHA), on Thursday, passed the Local Government Administration Bill, 2017, into law.
The law which takes effect today, Thursday, 29th June, 2017, was passed by the House following a clause by clause consideration on the report of Joint House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; and Judiciary, Justice, Human Rights and Public petitions submitted by the Chairman, Hon. Idongesit Ntekpere.
The new law which is in line with section 4 (7) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which empowers the House of Assembly to make laws for the peace, order, and good governance of the state or any part thereof, repeals the Local Government Administration Law of 2007 which according to Speaker, Barrister Onofiok Luke, “Is outdated and not capable of addressing the current issues in local government administration system”.
In their observation, the lawmakers noted that the local government system delivers basic services and are closest to communities through lawmaking and enforcement, planning and monitoring, representation among other functions.
The House also observed that the local government administration law of 2007, as amended, “has been embroiled in controversies some of which touch on and affect the legitimacy and, perhaps even the legality of the law or some of its provisions”. Members of the House were of opinion that the passage of the bill into law would guarantee the attainment of full potentials of local government administration.
In his remarks, Speaker of the House, Barrister Onofiok Luke, described the local government administration law as a fundamental legal document which will consolidate the efforts of government towards the delivery of good governance at the grassroots. He said the 6th Assembly was conscious of the myriads of challenges plaguing our local government administration system in Nigeria in general and Akwa Ibom in particular.
He observed that the challenge calls for serious legislative reforms.
“It is therefore in this direction that we have made a step today. The local government (administration) law when fully implemented will give legal impetus to section 7 (1) of the constitution which guarantees the existence of democratically elected local governments in the state through the enactment of a law by the House of Assembly ensuring their establishment, composition, structure, functions and finance. The law will ensure transparency and accountability in the administration of local government for the benefit of the people at the grassroots in the state”.
Barr Luke expressed the hope that the innovations in the new law will be to the best interest of Akwa Ibom people.
“For instance, Akwa Ibom people will now be able to have direct access to their legislative local government officials as the law has made it mandatory for elected officials to reside in their respective local government areas. The recurrent clamour/agitation for local government autonomy has been addressed by this law as it has clearly spelt out the functions and issues relating with the finances of local governments”.
Speaker Luke commended the state Independent electoral commission, AKISIEC, for finally expressing readiness to conduct elections into the local government councils by November 11 this year.
Throwing more light on the bill, the Chairman, House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and Head of the Joint committee, Hon. Idongesit Ntekpere, told Assembly correspondents that the law passed by the state assembly now makes it mandatory for the swearing in ceremony of the elected Chairmen and officials of the local government councils to be performed at the respective council headquarters by either the Chief Judge or administrative Judge at the respective or magistrate assigned to the local government councils.