PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has
assured that his administration will support a constitution amendment to free
local government areas from the stranglehold of states and better the lot of Nigerians
at the community level.

He gave the assurance while
receiving the leadership of the Association of Local Governments in Nigeria
(ALGON) in Abuja, on Thursday.

The president said a constitution
amendment was urgently required to clearly define the relationship among the
tiers of government.

While describing the frosty relationship
between states and local government as “a very serious constitutional problem,”
he added that “the relationship between the three tiers of government is not a
very nice one, especially that between the local government and the states.

“The states feel like they own the
local government, if they are of the same party.  It is worse if they are not.

“This is a very serious
constitutional problem and unless there is absolute clarity and transparency,
the relationship will continue to be exploited against the interest of the ordinary
people of the country.”

President Buhari advised the ALGON
executive members to hold consultations with their people and lawyers, with a
view to presenting a bill that will seek a constitutional amendment to free the
councils from the stranglehold of the states.

“This will limit the damage they
can do to you. The quicker you do this the better, so that you can help your
people much more,” the president said.

He acknowledged the request by
ALGON for the release of $3.2 billion wrongfully deducted by the Federal
Government for the final settlement of foreign debts in 2005.

Buhari said the government
recognised the judgment debt, but the timing of the request for its repayment
was wrong, given the current economic situation in the country.

In his remarks, acting ALGON
national president, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Karaye, presented a six-point demand
to the president, which included the repayment of the $3.2 billion debt and the
need to ensure the sovereignty of local government administration in the

The ALGON leaders expressed their
support to the president’s programmes on improving security, anti-corruption
campaign and economic revival.

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