The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) says it supports the call for full autonomy for local government councils.
A statement by NANS’s President, Mr Chinonso Obasi, on Thursday in Abuja said Nigeria’s democracy would remain incomplete until local government councils were granted autonomy.
Obasi said that it was disheartening to note that for almost 19 years of the nation’s democracy, the third tier of government had continued to be an appendage of state governments.
He said that the current status of local governments had hindered grassroots development.
“We the Nigerian students have decided to throw our weight behind calls for full autonomy of the councils so that it could bring about the much needed inclusion of the rural dwellers.
“Furthermore NANS is of the opinion that the grass roots governance that local government councils provide gives the masses a sense of belonging and platform to ventilate their aspirations for good governance and easy access to government.
“More than anything else, an autonomous local government system will enable young people to participate in governance and thereby use their knowledge and energy to provide leadership and cater for the rural population, particularly the nation’s senior citizens.’’
Obasi said that electoral misbehaviour, including ballot box snatching, thuggery and violence could be traced to displacement of young people from local government administration where they ought to gain leadership experience.
The NANS president said that local employees were better placed to interface with the people and generate revenue for the council, through radio licenses, market stalls rent, produce levies among others.
“Maintenance of rural infrastructure and construction of social amenities have not been what they used to be because of the confused state of affairs at the local government councils.
“This is a compelling reason why we insist on local government autonomy to fill the missing gaps in our democratic architecture,’’ he said.