By Solomon Odeniyi & Sodiq Yusuf
There is an ongoing move to reverse the parliamentary system which is currently in vogue in the Local Government administration in the State of Osun.
Bioreports yesterday learnt that the process of reserving the parliamentary system has begun with a draft of a bill to amend State of Osun Local Government Areas Creation and Administration Law 2015.
Though the bill has not been presented to the House of Assembly, credible sources told the medium that some lawmakers are already aware of the process.
According to the sources, the bill might likely come from two members of the house.
Indications also emerged on Thursday that the parliamentary system might be reviewed, following the oral presentation of a lawmaker representing Egbedore Constituency of the state in the House, Hon. Babatunde Ibirogba at the floor of the house.
Ibirogba spoke about the merit of the presidential system against the parliamentary system of government, even as the bill before the house has nothing to do with it.
This is coming after the outburst of a member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Wole Oke contesting the legality of the parliamentary system.
Oke had argued that the parliamentary system in the state is unconstitutional as it goes against the presidential system of government being practised at the federal level.
The lawmaker’s reaction received knocks and kudos from political analysts whose arguments were both political and constitutional.
Some of the political analysts were of the opinion that Oke might be playing a devil’s advocate role, while a set of people considered his statement as a strategy to begin the process of changing the parliamentary system in the local government.
Arguing from the point of law, a legal practitioner, Mr. Ibrahim Lawal stated that the parliamentary system of Local Government is in tandem with the constitution. Section 7 of the constitution talks about ensuring democratic practice of the Local Government, the parliamentary system is democratic as people were allowed to elect their representatives”, he said.
In his legal opinion, a Doctor of Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Dr. Misbau Lateef, said: “Those making noise about parliamentary system are either mischievous or ignorant of the law. What the Constitution says about the local government is simply that the system of government must be democratic. That is all and nothing more. Is a parliamentary system not a democratic system?
“I don’t think the issue is about the best system of government. It is about the law. For the Federal Government of Nigeria and the states, the constitution directly prescribes a presidential system. It did not prescribe anything for the local government. It is left to the laws of the state and there is a law in Osun that prescribes a parliamentary system which is no doubt a democratic system.”
Stating why the State Government under Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s administration enacted the parliamentary system, a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the state, Barr Kolapo Alimi, stated that it is the best system to adopt to cut down the costs of governance and costs and complexities in the local government elections.
Alimi, in an interview with Bioreports yesterday said whoever is thinking of reversing the parliamentary system is only mischievous, as it has the economic benefit and it does not run afoul of any law.
He said: “The reason we introduced the parliamentary system was because the presidential system vis-a-vis the creation of additional local government could not go together. By the time we were contemplating the idea of the creation of local government, we discovered that if we replicate the old system; it would kill local governments.
“The old system was presidential and if we put it in place, it is like killing the local governments because they would just be serving the bureaucracy and the political office holders. There will be no money left for development. That was the reason we introduced the issue of Council Managers whereby the level 14 officers will manage the council and on promotion to level 16, they would move to the state.
“We reviewed the Local Government Administration Law and we introduced the parliamentary system, which means the Chairman of the council should come from the councilors. If a councilor is made a Chairman or Vice Chairman or the Leader of the House, you would only need to add allowance which would reduce the cost of governance and the cost of electioneering and campaign because the councilor would only have to campaign in his ward.
“We did a thorough survey of the process before we adopted it. It is in line with Section 7 of the Constitution. So far, no court has invalidated what we have done.
“There was paucity of funds and we still wanted to run the local governments effectively. We needed to adopt the parliamentary system. It has the economic benefit and it does not run afoul of any law. Whoever that is thinking of reversing it now is only mischievous.”
According Alimi, when the law is reversed, there will be Chairman and Vice Chairman elected; Secretary and Supervisory Councillors and councillors for all the wards.
He explained the financial implication that the chairman and other political office holders would be entitled to car and furniture allowances, personal assistants and all the rest.
Alimi said: “Are we supposed to be practising the bureaucracy alone? Are we supposed to be paying salaries alone? Monies that are supposed to be used for development would now be used for paying salaries. The people that want to reverse the system are those people that look at issues with sentiments.
“On moral and political standards, we adopted the parliamentary system for economic reasons. Whoever has counter and superior reasons should tell us how they would manage the presidential system that would be as effective as the parliamentary in terms of finances.”
In his reaction, Mr. Gbenga Fayemiwo, a lawyer and journalist, said a government is at liberty to choose either of the systems of government at the local government level in line with paragraph one of Section 7 of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Fayemiwo said: “The constitution states that the system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is guaranteed and democratic system of government are of two types. It is either parliamentary or presidential.
“According to the law, any elected government at the state level can choose the system of government that best suits it. It could be a presidential or parliamentary system of government. Change of a system of government is allowed in the constitution. It is an arrangement of convenience but leadership at that level must be democratically elected.
“Every government at the state level has the right to decide which system it wants to adopt at the local government level. The constitution is very clear on this. Section 8 of the constitution specifies that the state assembly is entitled to legislate on the type of system of government that the state chooses and how to go about the legislative process.
“What contravenes the constitution is the appointment of caretaker committees to steer the affairs of the local governments, which some state governments were guilty of.”