By Precious Nicholas
abuja—Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, weekend said that local government autonomy had not been rejected by states houses of assembly in the on-going constitution amendment process, as been speculated.
NULGE said the bill on local government autonomy was still under consideration by 26 houses of assembly across the country, as only 10 houses of assembly had so far considered the bill and passed it to the Chairman of Conference of Speakers of states houses of assembly for transmission to the National Assembly.
President of NULGE Ibrahim Khaleel gave this explanation to dispel insinuation that the states houses of assembly might have rejected local government autonomy, based on the transmission of some bills considered by the states houses to the National Assembly on Thursday.
He explained that the National Assembly sent 15 different bills to the states houses, incluing Local Government Autonomy Bill.
Among the 10 states that had considered it, eight states: Kwara, Benue, Niger, Plateau, Bauchi, Cross River, Bayelsa and Ogun states voted for local government autonomy while only two states: Edo and Imo, rejected it.
Khaleel, who said he had sought clarification from the Chairman, Conference of Speakers and senior officials of the National Assembly, noted that Rivers and Lagos states had not even worked on the Local Government Autonomy Bill, while the remaining 24, who joined the other 10 states to transmit it to the National Assembly, said they had stepped the bill down for further consultation.
According to him: “So, 24 states houses of assembly are still working on it, many of them are already holding public hearing on it. That is what is going on. For example, Sokoto State just conducted public hearing on the bill between Tuesday and Thursday this week. Gombe has just called for memorandum from its citizens on Local Government Autonomy Bill. Others also differ it to hold public hearing and for further discussions before they vote and forward it to Chairman, Conference of Speakers.
“It is just that only eight so far have voted for it among 10 states who have fully considered it. It is possible that we will still get the remaining 16 states, out of the remaining states that have not voted on Local Government Autonomy Bill. We can see that it has not been rejected. So, we can’t say local government autonomy has been rejected. It is still work in progress.”
He said the Speaker of House of Representatives cannot be blame for the speculation arising from his statement, because of the complexity of the ongoing constitution amendment process.
Khaleed stated that the conference of speakers decided to transmit to the National Assembly, those bills that have already been considered by various states houses, rather than wait till all the states completed works on all the 15 bills.
Even though, this, according to him brings confusion, he stated that the intention of the Conference of Speakers was not to waste time on the exercise.