Festus Keyamo, the spokesperson for Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidential campaign committee, has called Atiku Abubakar’s remark about “how governors kicked against direct distribution to local governments while he was the country’s vice president” fake.
Reacting to Atiku’s revelation on Twitter, Festus quoted a news story in this regard, published by TheCableng and said: “False! False!! False!!! What did OBJ do to enforce it? PMB actually signed an Executive Order to enforce it. Meanwhile, the OBJ Govt. went about seizing funds meant for Lagos LGAs to punish Lagosians. The people of Lagos State will answer Atiku with their votes this time around.”
Atiku, who is now the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, made his comment at the Arise TV town hall on Sunday.
His comment came in the backdrop of President Muhammadu Buhari’s theft accusation against governors.
Buhari had said that the governors were stealing the allocations of LGAs in their states.
He said it is unfathomable that some state governors would collect money on behalf of council areas, and only remit half of such allotment to the council chairpersons.
Speaking on this, Atiku narrated how governors used constitutional loopholes to stop the direct allocation of funds to local government.
He added that Nigeria has a “fundamental flaw in our legislation” as far as local government funding is concerned and it must be fixed.
In his words: “When I assumed office in 1999, what was handed over to me was the local government administration. When it was handed over to me, I gave instructions to the accountant general that all local government allocations should be transferred to the local governments straight. After implementing that policy for nine months, the governors protested that that was not constitutional,” he said
“So we looked at the constitution, and they said there was supposed to be a joint account at the state level where local government funds should be transferred and also the state government was supposed to put a certain percentage of their revenue into that account, and it (the local government funds) was then moved to that joint account.
“Then, the local governments started getting their funding through the state joint accounts and that is where we have problems. In that process, some state governments started taking part in the local government finances. Some said they were going to run universities with the state governments, some said local governments should contribute to certain projects in the state. At the end of the day, the funds were being depleted and the local governments were left with no funding, and in fact, it has gone to virtually nothing now.
“We must look at the laws and see how we can make these local governments independent and protect them when funds are sent from the federal government. I think there’s a major flaw in our laws regarding that.”