The Forum of the Association of Heads of Local Government Administration in Edo State has slammed the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, over allegation that Governor Godwin Obaseki has taken over the functions of the councils and was denying them of their funds.
The local government administrators noted that Obaseki’s ingenuity had brought an increase in the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, and thus improved governance at the councils.
In a statement jointly signed by the Chairman of the forum, Desmond Imonike (Etsako East), Ahonsi Mathias (Ovia North East) and Shaibu Ademola (Owan East), the administrators condemned the statement by the state NULGE Chairman, Lazarus Adorolo, noting that it was not a reflection of governance in the councils.
The forum noted that with the improvement in the IGR of the councils through measures put in place by the state government, local governments had been up to date with the payment of wages, carrying out also some developmental projects.
It equally noted that the state government had not introduced any extraneous factor in the sharing of federal allocations and other revenues to the 18 councils outside what was permitted by law.
Contrary to Adorolo’s position that the councils were not involved in revenue sharing, the forum maintained that its members were fully participating in the pre-Joint Account Allocation Committee and the actual JAAC.
“We have read the press statement made by the state President of NULGE and wish to state without equivocation that the statement was made in ignorance without knowing the workings of the government.
“First and foremost, we the helmsmen of the 18 local governments participate fully in both the pre-JAAC and actual JAAC meetings, where the proceeds of the Federation Accounts due to the 18 local governments are shared among us.
“At such meetings, there is always a robust debate before decisions are reached and the money distributed accordingly.
“The state government does not introduce any extraneous factor in the sharing outside what is permitted by law.
“On the issue of 10 per cent internal revenue generated by the state government being added to sharing, it is strange because previous governors from Igbinedion to Oshiomhole had never shared such among the councils.
“We are baffled and cannot explain why the state president of NULGE would single out the Obaseki administration as a culprit; this beats our imagination.
“Since April 2021 and due to the Obaseki administration’s efforts at repositioning the councils, salaries are regular and efforts are in top gear to settle the backlogs,’’ it stated further.
While noting the decline in revenue accruing to the councils from the federation due to present economic crunch, the forum called on Adorolo to mobilise his members for revenue drive to improve the IGR.
It added: “Due to the present economic crunch, payment of levies at the local levels has dwindled and in addition, the price of crude oil has fallen and the resultant effect is the reduction available to the local governments nationwide and Edo State is not an exception.
“So what one would expect from the state president of NULGE is first and foremost to express his gratitude to the state governor for saving the councils from total collapse and mobilise his members for revenue drive instead of this kind of vituperation, which will do no one any good.”