Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Thursday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to carry out forensic audit on State-Local Government Joint Account in the last 10 years.
It claimed that All Progressives Congress, APC, governors, under the APC Governor’s Forum, had engaged in a dubious political project against local government autonomy under the guise of restructuring.
NULGE President, Ibrahim Khaleel, made the call while speaking on the topic, “Local Government Autonomy: There is no better time than now. Our state assemblies must not betray Nigerians again,” after the National Executive Council, NEC, of the union in Abuja.
He said: “Beyond fulfilling his promise to restore sanity in the operations of local governments by state governors, it is our belief in NULGE that Mr President should also use his administrative powers to appoint reputable auditors to carry out forensic auditing of State-Local Government joint accounts in at least the last ten years.
‘’This is necessary since there is little or nothing on ground in the 774 local governments to show for the huge resources allocated to states over the years.’’
Khaleel said one of the most invasive acts and glaring abuse of power by the governors since the current democratic dispensation, was their alleged diversion of local government funds at the expense of the development the funds were meant to provide at the grassroots.
He pointed out that state governors had been desperate to manipulate and truncate the quest for autonomy.
The NULGE president commended the State Houses of Assembly that had passed the bill granting local government autonomy, despite the pressure from the governors.
The nine states that have passed and voted for the bill include, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Sokoto and Plateau states.
“Just as we decided not to dissipate our energy in taking Governor Narsir el-Rufai to task, we still maintain our position that this exercise by the APC governors was nothing but a charade. For us in NULGE, there is no better time and opportunity to achieve autonomy for the local government system in Nigeria than now.
‘’With the signing into law of the financial autonomy bill by President Buhari, which effectively puts an end to hegemony of absolute control of state legislatures by state governors, state lawmakers no longer need to fear or be intimidated in asserting the logic of the constitutional provision which empowers them to check the excesses of governor,’’ he said.
Noting that NULGE remained undaunted, the NULGE boss said: “Against the backdrop of the long history of our struggle for this cause, dating back to 1999, we remain undaunted by the challenges and obstacles from a very tiny class of individuals who are perpetuating the exploitation of the resources meant to provide better living conditions for millions of our people at the grassroots.
“To demonstrate our commitment to the quest for autonomy of local governments, NULGE is at the verge of opening another chapter in this struggle.
‘’ If, indeed, the representatives of the people in a number of State Houses of Assembly are not inclined to do the will of their people as demonstrated by members of the National Assembly going beyond merely advocating but actually voting for Local Government autonomy; we will have no other option than to resolve to vigorously mandate all chapters of our union to use passage of the autonomy bills as a barometer for election at all levels in the forthcoming general elections.
“As we speak, our members in the 774 local governments across the nation are on standby waiting for instructions to engage with members of State Houses of Assembly from state constituencies and to mobilise against those standing against local government autonomy.”
Khaleel stated that the emergence of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the APC chairman would change a lot of things in the country.
According to him, the NEC of NULGE will be meeting Oshiomhole and the National Executive members of the APC very soon to strategize on the issue of local government autonomy.