By Michael Oche, Abuja –
The Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has urged States Houses of Assembly members to be on the side of Nigerians and vote in favour of Local Government autonomy, saaying such will ensure a free and unfettered democratic local government system in the country.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, NULGE President, Ibrahim Khaleel said with the National Assembly voting in support of Local Government autonomy, attention will now shift to the State Houses.
“Our hope is that the State Houses of Assembly will this time around not disappoint majority of Nigerians whose joy at the passage of the bills echoed across the country, by mustering the necessary conviction to likewise vote overwhelmingly for autonomy of local governments,” yesterday while briefing journalists in Abuja.
Khaleel commended the leadership and members of the 8th Assembly for overwhelmingly adopting two of the three key bills on local government autonomy, which include, the bill on special accounts for local government, which grants local government administrators the constitutional power to manage their own accounts as against the existing policy in which governors take absolute control over allocations to local governments and the bill on democratic existence of funding and tenure of local government council, which prohibits constitution of caretaker leadership for local government areas.
He said if these bills gets two-third approval at the state legislatures, local governments will be allowed to operate independent accounts for receiving monthly federal allocations, and considering primary school teacher’s salary as first line charge, which in no measure will stabilise the finances of Local Government for better service delivery.
t Khaleel said: “we wish to state very emphatically that the bold step taken by the 8th Assembly has rekindled our hope that this time around, our struggle and message of local government autonomy through advocacy campaigns, have taken deep roots not only in the imagination of Nigerian masses but even more so in the agenda and scheme of key democratic institutions.
“This shows that the logic of autonomy for local governments has matured; an idea whose time has come. We are however by no means carried away with any belief that the job has been done. Far from it!
“We were roughly at this juncture when the 6th and 7th Assemblies voted to support local government autonomy; however, when it got to the State Houses of Assembly, the required two-third votes couldn’t be mustered.
“We therefore have learnt to treat the triumph or victory recently secured in the National Assembly with cautious optimism.
Our attention will now shift to the State Houses of Assembly to ensure that we are not defeated this time around, in our determination to see a free and unfettered democratic local government system in the country.
“Our hope is that the State Houses of Assembly will this time around not disappoint majority of Nigerians whose joy at the passage of the bills echoed across the country, by mustering the necessary conviction to likewise vote overwhelmingly for autonomy of local governments.”
He commended the leadership and members of the 8th Assembly for overwhelmingly adopting two of the three key bills on local government autonomy.
Khaleel regretted that credible election has not been conducted in local government across the country since after the 1999,election that user in the current political dispensation as the governors have turned the local government to their private entity.