Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State recently faulted the new financial guidelines put in lay for local government areas by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
The guidelines banned governors from tampering with local government allocations under the guise of State Local Government Joint Account which also The new regulations also bar councils from spending beyond N500,000 daily.
Fayemi said “the guidelines are unconstitutional and unenforceable”. Recitation the directive as singing to the gallery, Fayemi personal advised the Chairman Abdulaziz Yari of the Nigerian Governors Forum ( NGF), to summon a meeting of the group to discuss the guiding principle.
Governor Fayemi, who spoke exclusively, urged the NFIU to discuss the new actions “exhaustively whilst engaging in extensive advocacy so that the intention is not misconstrued.”
The governor said: “It is a directive designed to play to the gallery, it is unconstitutional and unenforceable. He said the imposition of the guidelines on states amounted to a recourse to a unitary system. As I said on Sunrise program on Channels Television on Friday, I have nothing to fear because during my first four years and now that I’m back, I acted only as a conduit for LG funds passed through us.
“ I’m not suggesting that some governors don’t misbehave, neither am I saying your story of N100 billion is not true (even though I have my doubts), my own point is where there are infractions, it should be dealt with on a case by case basis and not tar everyone with the same brush.The truth is that most states subsidize their local government areas, rather than steal from them”.
”In Ekiti, I can tell you that after meeting all the first line charge of salary payments the local government areas are hardly left with up to N50m on a good month to cover all other expenditure for all the 16 local government areas – security, running costs, capital development etc. The state is then left to carry the can of all additional expenditure – mend the roads, fix the drains, build the palaces, town halls, schools, health centre’s etc.
“I’m sure the same is true of many other states. So, really where is the N100 billion to steal out of local government funds in any state? I don’t believe it. It’s just a case of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it and let NFIU provide Nigerians with independently verifiable evidence.”
He state: “The Nigerian constitution only recognizes a Federation of two federating units – federal and state government and local government areas are under the supervision of states and my own personal campaign is that they should be expunged from the constitution because there is no reason to list local government in the constitution.
“ It should be the business of each state as a federating unit of coordinate jurisdiction to decide how many LGs to have and how to ensure they deliver services to their citizens.
“Yet, the bulk of what we spent came from the state. The artificial distinction is a false dichotomy in most states. Take a state like Bornu or Yobe that have been the victims of insurgency since 2009. How can anyone even talk about local government in such places when for the most part of Shettima time in office, only two local government were not under Boko Haram control. So the best a governor like that could do is warehouse the money and utilize for the good of all collectively and not on an local government basis.
“Even if the President did, he ought to be told the other side of the story too. I’m not a rogue and I won’t keep quiet if I’m being tarred with the brush of theft even if others are guilty.”
Fayemi emphasized that local governments are under the control of states by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. “ But the more fundamental issue is that NFIU just want to promote unitarism through the backdoor and undermine our two tier federalism.