Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has accused some state governments in Nigeria of using joint account to steal funds meant for local governments.
The former Nigerian leader said on Monday that governors not in support of local government autonomy were hampering grassroots development.
Obasanjo made the comments while hosting members of a Non-Governmental Organisation, Friends of Democracy, at his residence in Abeokuta.
The group was there to seek Obasanjo’s support for the Local Government Autonomy Bill.
The National Assembly has since passed the bill.
It, however, requires the approval of not less than 24 state Houses of Assembly.
And Obasanjo expressed regret that state governments, which he said were autonomous, had been opposed to the agitation for local government autonomy.
He said, “When in 1976, we brought in Local Government Reforms, it was meant to be the third tier of the government and not meant to be subjected to the whims and caprices of any other government; just the same way that the state government is autonomous from the Federal Government. Local Government is meant to be autonomous from the state government.
“But from what we know, by design, most states have incapacitated the local government system. They have virtually stolen the local governments’ money in what they called Joint Account. They were to contribute 10 per cent but they (state governments) never contributed anything.
“So, what we have across the country are Local Government Areas that have functions, but cannot perform the functions. They have staff but most of them cannot pay the staff, and we keep getting excuses upon excuses.
“And I see no reason if the Federal Government allows the states to enjoy their autonomy except in the case of state of emergency.”