The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Hon. Emmanuel Jime, at the weekend, assured Nigerians that the Senate and the House would soon harmonise their positions on the clause seeking to grant autonomy to local government areas in the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution.
Jime, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency of Benue State, allayed the fears in some quarters that the dream of making the local government areas a full fledged autonomous tier of government may no longer be realised in the current political dispensation.
The lawmaker, while announcing about 934 scholarships for students in all the local government areas in Benue State, said the local government areas cannot be ignored as an administrative unit because of its closeness to the people.
He said though the House endorsed the autonomy for local government areas while the Senate voted against the clause during the consideration of the amendments, it was imperative that the two chambers resolved this divergence of opinions.
According to him, the two chambers of the National Assembly would revisit the issue when they resume from their vacation in September.
“It was a commendable thing that the House voted overwhelmingly for local government autonomy. Although the story was different at the Senate, but I can say with all sense of responsibility that both chambers would harmonise their positions on the issue of local government autonomy before the process moves to the State Houses of Assembly,” he said.
Jime, a former Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, appealed to the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and other pressure groups opposed to the administrative and financial autonomy of the councils to consider the numerous benefits instead of focusing only on the perceived disadvantages of the proposal.
He hailed the bid to amend the Constitution to make Chapter Two justiceable. The lawmaker explained that such an amendment would guarantee the fundamental rights of the citizenry to hold governments accountable for its failures in critical areas such as education, health, housing and job creation.
He also endorsed the move to amend the constitution to deny ex-convicts state pardon.
Jime said granting such category of persons state pardon could encourage corruption in the country.