From ALI MUHAMMAD RABIU Ilorin
No fewer than ten local governments chairmen in Kwara state are in trouble for obtaining what has been described as “unauthorised loans” to run their councils.
The state government has vowed to sanction the affected council bosses.
Also new employment into councils in the state has been put on hold following their alleged inability to meet their obligations.
These were contained in a letter written to the State’s House of Assembly, by the state governor, Alhaji AbdulFattah Ahmed on efforts by his administration in tackling the challenges facing the local governments in the state.
The letter was read by the Speaker, Alhaji Razaq Atunwa on the floor of the House.
Already the state’s legislators have approved an investigation of the financial management and administration of the councils by its Committee on local government and chieftaincy matters
The committee is expected to submit its report on Thursday. According to the letter, only two council areas, Baruten and Kaima had clean bills of health in relation to the issue of loan. The councils the governor claimed were the worst culprits that ‘obtained loans without authorisation’ include Ilorin East, Oke-Ero, Ifelodun, Ekiti, Irepodun, Ilorin South, Offa, Edu, Ifelodun and Asa.
The letter was the outcome of an investigation into the affairs of the councils in the state following the widespread confrontation between the councils and their workers over default in salary payment. The committee recommended that council chairmen found to have run foul of the law should be sanctioned as deterrent to others.
Atunwa noted that the House committee had already toured the 16 councils which he said should aid an effective discharge of their duty.
Excerpt from the letter reads: “As you may probably have been aware, the state government has for some time now been having a running battle with local government councils in the state over mal-administration, occasioned by reckless spending which culminated in mass discontent and above all the inability to pay staff salaries and fulfil statutory obligations.
“However, as the situation continued to degenerate unabated and assuming a chaotic and calamitious dimension, government had to intervene quickly by setting up a committee to look into the matter and advise as appropriate. High points of the committee’s observations and findings include:
“that the internally generated revenue of all the local government councils is abysmally low and cannot effectively complement other sources of revenue, such as the regular inflow of the state 10 percent to local governments and that local government councils should scale up their revenue drives, that the local government councils are experiencing dwindling inflow from the federated account,
“That local government councils obtain loan from banks and other unauthorised sources without official authorisation and due clearance from constituted authority-with Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Offa, Edu, Ifelodun, Ekiti, Irepodun, Oke-Ero ad Asa local government councils being the worst culprits, that only Baruten and Kaima local government councils presented clean bills of health in this regard,
“That all chairmen found culpable particularly in obtaining unauthorised loans should be sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others; that embargo be placed on general recruitment in the local governments with the exception of recruiting only qualified accounts personnel, who should be regularly trained for proper accounting system in the local government councils, that the local government councils should not exceed the reviewed personnel and overhead costs without the approval f the governor”
“These recommendations were upheld after thorough appraisal with emphasis on the decision that the local government councils should not exceed the reviewed personnel and overhead costs if they have to break even without the approval of the governor.
“The import of this letter is to bring the honourable members of the house into the picture of happenings in the third tier of government supposedly expected to be the nearest to the people and solicit the house support to extract the commitment of the councils to abide by the decisions of government in order to salvage the situation and bring the councils back on track and path of sustainable growth and development.”
From ALI MUHAMMAD RABIU Ilorin