Tongues are wagging over Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s decision to create what he called ‘metropolitan authorities’ in Kaduna State.
It is a new layer of governance that saw the emergence of three cabinet rank administrators who will oversee the proposed Kaduna Capital Territory Authority, Kafanchan Municipal Authority and Zaria Metropolitan Authority.
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Some people who are averse to the development said the new administrative authorities will usurp the powers of local government areas.
They said the initiative will also make governance more expensive at a time when Governor El-Rufai sacked many people in the state and local government areas.
But the Kaduna State government and other people favourably disposed to the initiative said there was nothing wrong.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, some states like Lagos and Osun had made efforts to tinker with how they would administer their states but met resistance, especially at the federal level.
For instance, President Olusegun Obasanjo had tackled then Governor Bola Tinubu who carved local council development authorities (LCDAs) from local government areas (LGAs).
Obasanjo said LCDAs had no place in the eye of law as the Nigerian Constitution only recognises three tiers of government- federal, states and local governments.
Though Lagos and Osun had gone ahead to have the LCDAs after series of legal battles, to date, they are only funding the areas by putting the revenues accrued to constitutionally recognised LGAs in a basket and then shared across the board.
In Kaduna, the approach by El-Rufai in creating the municipal authorities appeared to be different.
Unlike in Lagos and Osun, the Kaduna governor selected some LGAs from the three senatorial zones in the state and put them under the metropolitan authorities.
This came to the fore on Monday when El-Rufai took many by surprise, reshuffled his cabinet and nominated administrators in what he said followed the “passage of a law creating metropolitan authorities.”
To actualise this, the governor had nominated the then Managing Director of Kaduna Market Development Agency, Hafiz Bayero, as the administrator of Kaduna Capital Territory.
He also nominated Balarabe Aliyu-Inuwa as administrator for Zaria Metropolitan Authority and Phoebe Sukai Yayi as administrator for Kafanchan Municipal Authority.
A high-ranking member of the National Assembly had alleged that at the time of the announcement, the governor was yet to sign the law.
But El-Rufai’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye told the Daily Trust that the governor had signed the three laws on August 30.
Our correspondent gathered from sources at the Kaduna State House of Assembly that the bill creating the metropolitan authorities in the state was brought as an executive bill, adding that the House had made additions and deductions before it was passed and sent to the governor for his assent.
Speaking with Daily Trust, Adekeye assured that the governor had signed the law and the three nominees sent to the House had been screened and cleared.
“This administration will not send anybody to be cleared for offices that have not been created. Before the presentation of the budget, the House cleared the three nominees,” he said.
‘Clash with LGs roles?’
Coming barely a month after Kaduna State held its local government council elections, controversies have trailed the establishment of the metropolitan authorities’ vis-à-vis the roles and functions of the local government areas which are enshrined in the country’s constitution.
Our correspondent who had access to the three bills before they were signed reports that they were officially designated: “A bill for a law to establish the Kaduna Capital Territory Authority and other matters connected therewith, a bill for a law to establish the Kafanchan Municipal Authority and other matters connected therewith and a bill for a law to establish the Zaria Metropolitan Authority and other matters connected therewith.”
The law provided that all pieces of land measuring 2,231.41 square kilometres or 223,141.8 hectares (551,394.909Acres) of urban designated areas of Kaduna State will be preserved as and henceforth be referred to as Kaduna Capital Territory.
Local government areas comprising of Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi and Chikun will make up Kaduna Capital Territory. It is the same for all pieces of land measuring 20,939.48 (51,742.50acres) at urban designated areas of Kafanchan which will also be preserved and referred to as Kafanchan Municipality.
Local government areas under Kafanchan Municipality comprise Jema’a, Kaura and Zangon Kataf.
Under Zaria Metropolitan Area, all pieces of land measuring 62,308.8 hectares (153,968Acres) at urban designated areas, which comprise Zaria, Soba, Sabon Gari and Giwa LGA’s will be preserved and referred to as Zaria Metropolitan Area.
Section 5 of each of the proposed laws states that: “As from the commencement of this law, the powers and functions vested in various ministries, departments and agencies and the local governments and itemised hereunder, are delegated to be exercised exclusively by the authority within the areas more particularly described in the schedule to this law.”
The bill itemised 16 powers delegated to the authorities including the construction of arterial, connector and estate roads; maintenance of all roads, street lightings, utility ducts and drains; cleaning of all roads, drains and waterways; maintenance of gardens, open spaces, parks, recreational or such other public facilities; naming of roads and streets and numbering of houses; provision and maintenance of public conveniences, sewage, waste collection and refuse disposal; as well as the establishment, maintenance and regulation of markets, motor parks and on-street parking.
Other areas include control and regulation of movement and keeping of animals, pets and birds of all descriptions; control and regulation of outdoor advertising and hoarding; control and regulation of hotels, motels, event centres and laundries; control and regulation of shops, kiosks, restaurants, bakeries and other places for the sale of food to the public; licensing for the sale of liquor; provision of emergency services; transportation and traffic management.
The list also includes coordination with relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for the execution of its functions.
Where required, the MDAs are to delegate their mandate to the authorities with the approval of the executive council and by an order published in the state gazette. It shall also exercise such other powers or perform such other duties with the prior approval of the governor as may be expedient to achieve its functions as provided for under the law.
Based on the bill, a governing board consisting of a chairman who shall be a member of the executive council is to be appointed by the governor subject to confirmation by the House of Assembly.
Other members include chairmen of the local governments listed in the schedule of each law, a director each from the ministries of local government; planning and budget; finance and justice.
Other members of the board will include a representative of chief executives of the MDAs not below the rank of a director from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA); Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA); Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS); Kaduna Markets Development and Management Company Limited; Kaduna State Traffic Law Enforcement Agency; Kaduna State Roads Agency; Kaduna State Environmental Protection Agency as well as one district head from each of the LGA’s listed, which shall be nominated by the chairmen of the LGCs.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the bill pertains to how the metropolitan authorities will be funded. Part IV of the bill, which relates to financial provision states that: “The authority shall be jointly funded by the state and local government areas constituting the municipality based on a ratio to be approved by the state executive council for the recurrent and capital expenditure of the authority.”
Subsection (a) states that such sums as may be appropriated by the House of Assembly by way of subvention.
By this, Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi and Chikun LGA’s will partly fund Kaduna Capital Territory; Jema’a, Kaura and Zangon Kataf will partly fund Kafanchan Municipality while Zaria Metropolitan Area will be partly funded by Zaria, Soba, Sabon Gari and Giwa LGA’s.
PDP, Lawyers react
The main opposition party in Kaduna, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has kicked against the law saying it was simply a duplication of responsibilities of the local government councils and some government MDA’s in the state.
The Secretary of the PDP in Kaduna, Ibrahim Aliyu Wusono said any reasonable person must ask: “What are the duties of the local government councils then? Where will the financing for these metropolitan authorities come from?”
He said it was unfortunate that the state Assembly, which he described as a rubber stamp had passed such a law, which clearly showed how the governor was pushing to hijack the responsibilities of the LGAs.
A lawyer in Kaduna, Kabir Momoh, however, said Nigerians must be cautious in rushing to interpret the intention of Governor El-Rufai in setting up the metropolitan authorities as a similar scenario had played out in Lagos when the then Governor Tinubu created LCDAs. “Similar issues came up and even funds for Lagos State were withheld, but upon the election and swearing-in of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, he directed the release of the funds and it was made clear that they were not LGAs, and were not intended to be equated and run the way LGAs are run,” he said.
However, when his attention was brought to section 5 of the bill, Momoh described it as a snag, stressing that Nigeria’s constitution is very clear as no governor or House of Assembly of a state can create a local government.
He said while El-Rufai as governor has the powers to delegate the powers and functions vested in ministries, departments and agencies to the metropolitan authorities, this cannot be done to local governments.
“You need to amend the provisions of the constitution because the local government is supposed to be run by an elected council and their functions and powers are spelt out, it will take an amendment of the constitution to do that,” he said.
Another lawyer, Mukhtar Shehu Aliyu said, “I see the administrators as mayors because they appear to be more powerful than the elected chairmen. There would be clashes definitely because I don’t know how they would operate.”
Reacting, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) said some state governments created the fresh units as local government development areas as different from local government areas.
“They are only inchoate and do not attract constitutional status but useful for administrative purposes of the state,” he said.
Deji Ekemgba Esq. said it will be illegal and unconstitutional if the new local development areas have not been approved by the state assembly.
“There is no state that can create a local government without the concurrence of the National Assembly. So, it is an abnormality and a misnomer for all these sorts of creations here and there,” he said.