By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja: Civil Society Groups have called on Nigerians to resist any attempt to truncate the local government autonomy recently endorsed by the National Assembly.
Speaking in Abuja at the Strategic Meeting on Civil Society Position on Constitution Review and Emerging Issues, the Executive Director of the African Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development(LSD), Dr Otive Igbuzor while commending the passage of the Bills granting independence to the local governments, said the next port of call is to go to the State Houses of Assembly with “our advocacy and campaign” to prevail on them to endorse the bill.
“We are however happy that they have granted autonomy to local government. We want to commend that initiative and ask that all citizens should be on the watch out so that anti Democratic forces will not truncate the local government autonomy at the State Houses of Assembly”.
Comrade Otive however expressed worry over what he termed steps by the Senate to increase its powers in the ongoing constitutional review.
He said that, “the 33 items that have been voted upon; we are concerned in the civil society that senate is increasing its powers. They want their former leaders to be member of the Council of State. They want that; if they pass a bill and within 90days, if the President doesn’t ascent to or reject them, it becomes law.
He berated the rejection of the 35% affirmative action for women in governance by both chambers of the National Assembly, saying that Nigeria should be doing things to improve women participation in governance as it has been proven that countries where women participate actively in governance develop better.
He stated that,”In civil society we are worried that Nigeria has one of the lowest participation of women in governance in the whole world. The percentage of women in Parliament in Nigeria is about 6 to 7 percent. The average in Africa is about 20 percent. In Rwanda is more than 50%.
“There’s a promise by senate that they would bring law which will not be in the constitution to handle the affirmative action for women. So its a continuous process. Democracy is not a dash, its a marathon and we must continue to work on it to deepen democracy. If we have a set back today we restrategize and continue to push”.
Otive noted that the Strategic meeting was put in place “to formulate a CSOs position and follow it up with advocacy and campaign for adoption by the National Assembly”.