The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has specifically commended the Kwara State House of Assembly and the other eight states that passed the bill on Local Government Autonomy, saying that their action would deepen democracy.
Saraki, who was speaking when he met with leadership of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), led by its National President, Comrade Ibrahim Khalil, said he was happy that Kwara State was among the nine states that had already approved and passed the bill into law.
Nine state of assemblies have already passed the bill into law, while three states have rejected the bill out of the 36 states of the federation.
Other states, according to the NULGE president, are still working on the bill, assuring that the required numbers to finally get the bill passed into law would be met when the other remaining states complete work on it.
Addressing the NULGE leaders, Saraki said: “When you look at the last Constitution review exercise, unfortunately, I must say that we have a lot to do. I don’t think that we got up to nine states that were in support of local government autonomy.
“I will ensure that we do more to rectify this issue. I am proud to say that my home state, Kwara, was one of those 9 states that supported local government autonomy.
“It will happen. I assure you, it will happen. We are all in a hurry to see that it happens. The question though, is how soon? I always say that these kinds of things like the Constitutional amendment process, you cannot bully anybody. But you must ensure that there is cooperation and collaboration.”
He said the Senate and the National Assembly, appreciated the importance of governance at the local government level, adding that it was very important to strengthen local government administration.
He said: “Part of strengthening local government administration is ensuring that there is autonomy. I also believe that strengthening local government administration means that we all do our best to increase the capacity at the local government.
“Sometimes, you find out that in developed countries, people who are competent, to contest at a level even as high as the Senate, would tell you that they don’t want to be at the Federal level like Abuja or Washington, they prefer to stay at the local level”.
The Senate President told the local government employees that it was also important to see that local governments are properly and independently funded, adding, “however, there must be a symbiotic relationship between the states and the local governments to ensure that the third tier of government is not placed at a disadvantage.”