Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has rejected calls for autonomy for local governments in the country, saying they are not economically viable to be autonomous.
Ayade, who stated this in a valedictory session with his dissolved cabinet and others, recently, said: “I hear you people are talking about local government autonomy. How much has the local government earned and how much has the state given.
“The direct financial support to pay local governments, we put N11.9billion. In addition, the liability of the local governments to the state today stands at N42billion. If the local governments are left on their own, wholly, one wonders what will happen.
“I don’t know why they (advocates of council autonomy) think every state is the same. In some states, if you allow the autonomy of the local governments, in three months, the level of kidnapping and crime rates would destroy this country. So, don’t make statements without proper research.
“Take Cross River State, in the first 17 months of our administration, there was no month we didn’t put in N300million or N400million for local governments to be able to pay salaries. There are some months we put N1.2billion to enable them pay salaries and we have never done deductions from them, even when our law provides for 27 per cent, plus the recent four per cent we did on infrastructure, which brings it to 31 per cent. We have held our calm.
“So, when people come talk about autonomy, it is the function of the income of the state. If you ask for the House autonomy, you have the autonomy, but let us see how the House will pay its salaries on the basis of autonomy, when indeed what has come is less than salaries, plus general overheads.”
He added: “Autonomy works where the income is sufficient for everyone to get his/her quota. But when what is coming is less than operating cost, it needs a bit of creativity.”