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Tinubu Gets Truce Deal, Raises 14-man Panel

Posted by By Idowu Sowunmi and Cyrian Aitebhor on 2005/07/27 | Views: 347 |

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Tinubu Gets Truce Deal, Raises 14-man Panel


The Prince Bola Ajibola committee mediating in the impasse between Federal and Lagos State governments over the withheld local government council funds yesterday presented Governor Bola Tinubu and the state stakeholders a proposal which will see the State House of Assembly passing a resolution reverting to 20 councils.

The Prince Bola Ajibola committee mediating in the impasse between Federal and Lagos State governments over the withheld local government council funds yesterday presented Governor Bola Tinubu and the state stakeholders a proposal which will see the State House of Assembly passing a resolution reverting to 20 councils.

The resolution will also acknowledge the Supreme Court decision that the 37 new councils were validly created and that elections into them were lawfully conducted.

Tinubu has, however, set up a 14-member committee consisting of leaders of his party, Alliance for Democracy (AD), local government chairmen and other citizens of the state to deliberate on the proposal and report back to him on Thursday.

THISDAY learnt that the proposal, which was presented by Ajibola and members of his team to Tinubu and members of his cabinet and stakeholders, was made in form of a resolution to be passed by the state legislators if it is eventually approved by the government.

The resolution is said to state that the Assembly affirms the subsistence of 20 local government areas as listed in the constitution for Lagos State and that the 37 newly created LGAs are now development centres created for administrative purposes.

The proposed resolution also noted that the newly created local government councils would remain development centres in the meantime pending their listing in the constitution. It also stated that the resolution takes cognisance of the Supreme Court decision that the new councils were validly created and that the elections in them were lawfully conducted.

Ajibola while briefing Tinubu and the stakeholders said the proposal had been accepted by President Olusegun Obasanjo and that if it was enacted by the Lagos House of Assembly, the cheques for over N30 billion due to local government councils in the state between 2003 and now will be released in a matter of weeks.

The former Attorney-General urged both the federal and Lagos State governments to embrace peace and find a middle point while agreeing that it has been very difficult for him and his team to mediate between both parties.
He said he and the others intervened in the impasse because as elders they were disturbed by the level of suffering by people in the state and felt they owed it a duty to assuage the pains of the powerless.

Tinubu, a source said, decided to set up the 14-man committee to deliberate on the proposal following observations by some stakeholders that the state government should not concede victory won at the courts.

While setting up the committee, Tinubu said his administration has not taken any definite position on the proposal by the Ajibola group and has decided to confer with a cross section of the people because it requires a careful management of the situation.

"Politics is a game of compromises. Without compromise, we would have no progress. We know the capabilities of the elders who have interceded and we intend to give them the benefit of doubt," he said.

The stakeholders committee is made up of two members from the AD, five local government council chairmen, five traditional rulers and two elders of the AD. The committee held its first meeting at the conference hall of the Round House, office of the Governor, yesterday after its constitution.

They are expected to seek clarifications from the Ajibola group on the gray areas of the report, discuss the contents of a proposed draft bill and report back to an enlarged house of all stakeholders on Thursday before a definite position will be taken by the state government.

Two of the AD leaders present at the meeting, Alhaji Olatunji Hamzat and Prince Tajudeen Olusi said whatever compromise the state government would reach with the Federal Government must take cognizance of the ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter.

Secretary of the Lagos AD, Alhaji Lateef Raji, said the steps by Ajibola and the other wise men are commendable. But he saw the mediation as an attempt by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to get from the back door the victory they could not get from the ballot box and the courts. "Prince Ajibola, how do you want history to remember you for the steps which you are pleading with us to accept in this matter? Please ponder over it very well," he said.

Obasanjo in 2003 ordered the seizure of council funds belonging to five states which created new local government areas and conducted elections therein. Niger, Nasarawa, Ebonyi and Katsina states which were affected then reverted to the old council arrangements.

Lagos State, however, headed for the Supreme Court to seek answers on the legal posers including whether the president has the powers to seize council funds, whether the Lagos councils were validly created and whether elections into the new councils were lawful.


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