All 36 states ask Supreme Court to dismiss FG’s suit on LG autonomy

By Innocent Raphael

Governors of the 36 states in Nigeria have collectively petitioned the Supreme Court to dismiss the Federal Government’s (FG) suit advocating for local government autonomy.

The case, which has sparked widespread debate, focuses on the constitutional powers and fiscal independence of local government areas (LGAs).

The states argued that the suit undermines the principles of federalism enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, asserting that local government matters are the prerogative of state governments.

In their joint submission, the states emphasize the importance of maintaining the existing constitutional structure, which grants them significant control over local governance.

In a recent meeting with other governors, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, representing the coalition of states, said, “The autonomy of local governments is not a question of federal intervention but rather a matter for state governments to manage.

“This suit by the Federal Government oversteps its bounds and disregards the principles of federalism.”

The Federal Government’s suit, filed earlier this year, seeks to enforce greater autonomy for LGAs, including direct funding from the federal allocation, bypassing state governments.

Proponents argue that this move would enhance grassroots development, reduce corruption, and improve service delivery at the local level.

However, state governments contend that such autonomy could lead to a chaotic system where local governments operate independently of state oversight, potentially leading to mismanagement and inefficiencies.

They also argue that the financial implications of direct funding could disrupt the fiscal stability of states.

Legal experts are closely watching the case, which raises significant questions about the balance of power between the federal and state governments.

Constitutional lawyer Mike Ozekhome noted, “This case is pivotal in defining the future of Nigeria’s federal structure. It will test the limits of state versus federal powers in the context of local governance.”

The Supreme Court has scheduled hearings for next month, with expectations that the decision will set a precedent for the interpretation of local government autonomy within the Nigerian federal system.

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