By Dennis Agbo
The National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, has asked the National Assembly to withdraw and suspend indefinitely its ongoing debate to delete the local government system from the 1999 constitution or face industrial actions and mass protests.
NULGE said it was unfortunate that the sponsor if the bill, Hon Bob Solomon from Rivers state was trained with proceeds from local government administration, yet he is making efforts to bite the fingers that fed him.
National President of NULGE, Comrade Ambali Olatunji in a sensitization press conference in Enugu on Thursday also urged Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to make history by standing up to be the first Governor in Nigeria to speak against the National Assembly attempt to scrap the grassroots administration.
Olatunji equally proposed that instead of the country approving for the establishment of state police, what was more desirable is a local government policy, which he said was has better capable of dealing with crimes more than the state police.
According to the NULGE leader, most crimes occur at the local government levels, noting that the local security has more intelligence on how to stem crime penetration.
Olatunji said: “We woke up to hear that the National Assembly is deliberating to emasculate the local government system and we are saying that if NULGE is not invited to the National Assembly to make its presentation, we will commence an action. There will be protests in Abuja and in every part of this country. We thought that the national assembly members were representing us but now we know better.
“What is needed is to deepen democracy at the local government level. The states have usurped local government functions and source of revenue, anybody trying to kill the local government system is equally trying to kill his own future.”
Olatunji urged NULGE members to flood their representatives in the national and state assemblies with text messages, rejecting the ongoing attempt to delist the third tier government from the 1999 constitution.
He said that apart from the attempt being a destructive mission, scrapping the local government will affect the traditional institution, which he said is pivotal in the exercise and funding of the traditional institution.
Olatunji further said that bill if it succeeds will bring about the sack of local government workers, adding that what was needed in the country was complete autonomy for local government councils.
“How many people have been indicted for corruption at the local government levels? it usually at the state and federal levels. If we are serious about tackling the insecurity in Nigeria, then there should be local government police; INEC should conduct council elections.
“We, therefore, call on the National Assembly to retrace its step but if this call fails, then strike will be our next option. We warn Hon. Bob Solomon that our vote is our power and he should refund all the local government money that was used to train him,” Olatunji charged.