Implications Of the Supreme Court Judgment For Kwarans- By Adetola A. Kehinde


In the absence of any changes, as released by the Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWASIEC), Kwara State Local Government Council Elections will be held across the 16 local government areas of the state on September 21, 2024. This marks the first time since November 18, 2017, that Kwarans will go to the polls to elect leaders for the 16 local government areas and 193 wards. The recent Supreme Court judgment has significant implications for these elections.

However, in light of the recent judgment of the Supreme Court, it becomes pertinent to dissect the implications of this judgment on the forthcoming local government elections in Kwara State. On Tuesday, July 11, 2024, the Supreme Court upholds the independence of local governments, preventing state governors from arbitrarily removing elected local government officials. This judgment ensures that a democratically elected governor has no power to remove a democratically elected local government chairman.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court declares that it is unconstitutional for states to hold and control funds allocated to local governments on their behalf. The court directed that local government allocations from the Federation Account should be paid directly to the local governments, bypassing state government coffers. Additionally, the court ordered the federal government to withhold allocations to local governments governed by unelected officials appointed by the governor.

This judgment is a significant milestone in the administration of local government, as it strengthens the autonomy and financial independence of local governments, the tier of government closest to the people. The Federal Government of Nigeria and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, deserves commendation for suing the 36 state governors over alleged misconduct in local government administration. This ruling is a substantial victory for the federal government and the people of Nigeria, especially since Prince Lateef Fagbemi hails from Kwara State.

With the incoming democratically elected leadership of the 16 LGAs and 193 wards in Kwara State receiving their allocations directly from the Federation Account, they will have greater autonomy and protection from illegal dissolution by the state governor. This autonomy has significant implications for the incoming chairmen and councillors, who must now manage their funds responsibly.

This judgment for local government chairmen implies that they now have independence, hence they must prioritize the development of their respective areas, using the allocations from the Federation Account to improve basic amenities and invest in human capital development and agriculture. They should avoid using local government funds for personal enrichment or political patronage. The federal government, having fought for the financial autonomy of local government, will monitor their activities and prosecute any misappropriation or embezzlement of funds.

For the people of Kwara State, this judgment implies that they have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the effort of the Federal Government and Prince Lateef Fagbemi in achieving this milestone does not go to waste. They must actively participate in the upcoming local government elections and vote for candidates with proven integrity, qualifications, and dedication to community development. Voting with a conscience will help ensure the election of capable leaders who will prioritize the socio-economic development of their local government areas. Beyond the participation in the election, the people of Kwara State must also ensure continuous constructive engagement of the leadership of the local government. 

Adetola A. Kehinde, a Kwaran from Iludun Oro writes from Lagos.

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