Dogara said that ongoing amendment of the Constitution would address the issue of governance and opportunities at the grassroots.
Toward this, he said that ongoing amendment of the Constitution would address the issue of governance and opportunities at the grassroots.
The speaker stated this at a consultative meeting for building consensus among Conference of Speakers, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and Leaders of Thought, on Local Government and State Houses of Assembly Autonomy.
The consultative meeting, which held on Monday in Abuja, was geared towards leveraging on the ongoing Constitution review.
Dogara said, “the amendment could not have come at a better time than now that there is a loud and deafening call across the nation for restructuring and deepening our democratic systems and processes.
“As leaders, we must use every opportunity to find ways of strengthening Nigeria’s unity through effective governance and delivery of public goods and services that will lead to an improvement in the livelihoods of the average Nigerian.
“If we can make the local government system work effectively, most of the discontentment and disenchantment among the rural population and the generality of Nigerians will be greatly reduced.
“The Constitution amendment process provides an opportunity for the National Assembly, in collaboration with the state legislatures, to enhance our governance architecture and strengthen our democratic institutions.
“It will also entrench equity and social justice in our polity and most importantly, put Nigeria on the part of greatness that Nigerians crave for.”
He also disclosed that in the last aborted Constitution Alteration in the 7th Assembly, all the state houses of assembly voted in favour of local government autonomy.
He said that they had learnt from the bitter experience of the 2nd Alteration Bill where the states’ houses of assembly turned down the autonomy.
Dogara reiterated his position that financial autonomy for local governments and states’ houses of assembly would bring good governance and dividends of democracy to the states and rural areas.
“Indeed, financial autonomy for the state legislatures is one of the most important ingredients for good governance at the state level,’’ he said.
The speaker stressed the need continuous dialogue and consensus-building in democratic governance, saying it provided platform for thorny and divergent views to be discussed, harmonised and addressed amicably.
“Democracy in practice is a process through which government actors and citizens’ representatives continuously dialogue constructively in order to build harmony and consensus on critical and competing issues and interests.’’
He said that consultation was a very critical element of any democracy.
Dogara commended the leadership of houses of assembly, Department for International Development (DFID) and others for the partnership and support in previous constitutional amendments.
He advocated the same for the legislature as it struggled to find lasting solutions to the bottlenecks that inhibited the ability of Nigeria to achieve its potential.