By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Abuja—THE battle for local government autonomy is now shifting to the states as the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees NULGE, yesterday accused state governors of plots to scuttle local governments’ autonomy at the state assemblies, barely 24 hours after the National Assembly, NASS, passed a bill providing financial autonomy to local governments.
Specifically, NULGE accused Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, headed by Ekiti State, Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, of plots to truncate the ongoing constitutional review as it concerns local government autonomy that has already enjoyed the blessing of the National Assembly.
At a briefing in Abuja, NULGE’s President Hakeem Ambali, however commended the NASS for taking the path of honour to vote in favour of Local Government’s autonomy, claiming he had been inundated with complaints of clandestine moves by state governors to abort the process at the state Houses of Assembly.
Recall that the NASS had on Tuesday, voted in favour of full autonomy for local government administration in the country.
This, it was alleged, angered State Governors who collect funds on their behalf from the federation account.
Despite the passage by the NASS, it requires 2/3 majority of the State Houses of Assembly to also pass it before it can be amended.
Among others, Ambali said : “We are here to send our words of appreciation to the National Assembly, we know it has been an herculean task to see that this passage comes through. We know definitely that any patriotic Nigerian agrees that for too long the local government system has been under bondage and there is a need to fix it and that once we do that we will all be happy.
“So we appreciate what the NASS has done and we are not unmindful of the threats facing them. This struggle is not a demand for minimum wage but a demand for better Nigeria, for so many years nothing is functional at the LG level. If you want to see poverty and gloom, go to the rural areas. In the past the food that fed the country came from the local governments, there were functional administrative structures such that insecurity was not there, we had a way of engaging local vigilantees who ensured we had a safe environment.
“Today, Nigeria has descended into this sorry situation, despite the fact that local government is the first point of interaction between the people and the government. We call on members of State Houses of Assembly to vote in favour of this bill. We will ensure that we track the voting pattern of members in the state assembly to ensure they answer to their names individually. We will track those who vote against this bill, we want them to be couragous enough and rescue the local government system because a vote for autonomy is a vote for development.
“This is also sending a note of warning to the NGF that local government workers are monitoring any clandestine moves that they are making.”