Showdown Looms Between Nigerian Govt, Lagos State

at 10:21 AM, 27/07/2009 (9 years ago)
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Nigeria - A face-off that is sure to end the rapprochement between the federal government and its Lagos state counterpart looms, after President Umaru Yar'Adua gave the state a 14-day ultimatum to cancel the 37 new local councils it created in addition to the 20 existing ones.

The letter, apparently leaked to the media by the Federal government, threatens unspecified tough measures against the state government if it fails to revert to the 20 councils at the expiration of the ultimatum.

Saying the creation of the councils breached the country's Constitution, President Yar'Adua warned: ''May I add that if the Lagos state government persists in breach of the Constitution in respect of this matter, beyond the ass erted 14 days, I shall be compelled to direct that necessary actions be taken by the relevant organs of state to defend the Constitution and preserve the authority of the Federal Government.''

The opposition Action Congress (AC) party, which controls Lagos state - the nation's economic nerve centre - has seized on the letter by President Yar'Adua to Lagos state Governor Babatunde Fashola to accuse the FG of seeking to sabotage developments in Lagos.

In a statement issued on Sunday, AC accused the PDP-led federal government of at tempting to distract the government of Lagos state from its ''much-acclaimed development efforts and divert attention from its (FG) own fail ures at all levels''.

The party said it could not fathom why President Yar'Adua would write such a letter to Governor Fashola

``The only reason we can think of right now for this shocking threat and totally unwarranted throwback to Obasanjo's lawless and anarchic era is that the PDP is envious and the FG is embarrassed at the success of the AC-led government in Lagos, hence both are looking for ways to throw spanner in the works.

The battle over the creation of the councils started during the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that while the state violated to law in creating the councils, the creation was incomplete because the National Assembly (parliament) has yet to carry out its own part of the deal.

AC said if indeed President Yar'Adua believes in the rule of law as he has always trumpeted, he would go back to the Supreme Court to seek further clarification on the issue instead of resorting to self help.

``For the avoidance of doubt, the Supreme Court did not say the creation of 37 additional councils in Lagos was unconstitutional and illegal, as President Yar'A d ua wrote in his letter. It merely said the creation was incomplete because the National A ssembly has yet to carry out its own part.

``The court never asked Lagos to revert to 20 local governments. And the 37 are development areas for which Lagos state is not getting additional funds from the FG. What then is the fuss about? Is this the strategy of the hawks in the PDP to try to hijack Lagos in the next elections?'' AC asked.

The party described President Yar'Adua's letter as ''a tactical error and a disingenuous move to divert attention from the massive problems besetting the FG and over which it has no clue''.

``For a country where power generation is perhaps at all-time low; where the state of social infrastructure has gone beyond decay; where the Niger Delta crisis is threatening the nation's very own existence; where many more go to bed hungry at night than even in countries at war and where hope seems to be dimming by the day, should the issue of local council creation attract this kind of attention from the President?'' AC further queried.


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