NULGENULGEBy Marie-Therese Nanlong
There was a mild drama on Wednesday in Jos Centre, Plateau State, venue for the North Central Zone public hearing on the proposed alteration of the provisions of the 1999 constitution as the Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu prevented the representative of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE from presenting their position.
It would be recalled that Jos is hosting Plateau, Benue and Nasarawa for the presentation of their memos stating the positions to be included in the expected constitution review.
Senator Adamu was calling different groups to present their memos, when it was the turn of NULGE, an activist, Santos Ayuba mounted the podium an introduced himself as the consultant for NULGE to which the Chairman asked, “are you an employee of local government,” and he said no.
At that point, the Chairman refused to listen and as he stepped down, members of NULGE who contracted him to present on their behalf murmured loudly, interrupting the next person that was called.
The unionists marched forward with their spokesman but were still denied the opportunity for him to speak.
Piqued by the development, the consultant doubted the sincerity of the process when the voices of the people were being muted.
He told journalists at the Crispan hotel venue of the event, “It is quite disappointing that when I was stepping in, the Governor of the State whispered to the Chairman of the Committee, I wasn’t the only one who saw it, and the first question was to ask me if I was the a NULGE person, an employee.
“I have been a labour leader, when I was in the University, I was the Secretary of ASUU, I served as a resource person to NLC, I also served and worked with NUJ Correspondents’ chapel, so labour is my field. I am sympathizer of labour activities.
NULGE consulted me, as a consultant, I do research, I do training and even the state government.
“We train the staff of state government with our consulting firm and now the governor was asking me who I was. I am the only person they asked that question. Those who presented on behalf of non-profit organization, did they ask them, no.
“I was consulted, I was paid and if I was paid, I must deliver the job so now as it is, they got scared without knowing what was to be presented by NULGE. This is an infringement on the right of NULGE as an institution and as an organization. Denying them their own space.”
He preempted the process stating, “Considering what is happening, this process will not favour Nigerians, it has started. Others were given 8, 10 minutes but an institution like Human Rights Commission was given two minutes. The truth is that this is the process that will engineer again the rigging in 2023.
“When they talk about security of Nigerians, they are budgeting billions for this process, is this the most important thing that we should be facing now or insecurity? They are undermining the red flags as we approach 2023, this for me is a wind. The early we begin to know that the country is standing on clear feet, the better for us.
“The demands of NULGE are simple, local government should be given autonomy, they want fiscal federalism, separation of joint account with state government…”
Before the interruption, the Houses of Assembly of the three States, the States Governors, the Traditional institution and others had presented their positions.
Among the issues which dominated their demands were the call for State/Community Police, devolution of power, active inclusion of traditional institution in governance, judicial review, prohibition of open grazing local government among others.
Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong who declared the even open said, “We hope that this particular exercise will not go the way of previous ones which failed to address some key issues affecting the governance of the nation and in some way even threatening the peace, security and unity of the country.”
Plateau State Deputy Governor, Sonni Tyoden who presented the State position harped on state/community policing, the Chairman of the State Traditional Council and Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Buba said the history of each ethnic nationality should not be overlooked.
His words, “Who are we? The constitution must address the question. The different ethnic groups were in existence before Nigeria, that aspect of history should not be thrown away because if you don’t know where we are coming from, you won’t know where you are going to. Every land in Nigeria belongs to a community, a people…”
It was gathered that so far, over 200 memos have been submitted by the different groups across the three States.