…says it’s now or never

By Chinedu Adonu

The President, Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Enugu State, Comr. Kenneth Ugwueze on Wednesday said there is an urgent need for autonomy for local governments in the country.

He lamented that the legislature had toyed with the case for local government autonomy starting from the 7th assembly, stressing that it is time to grant them autonomy.

Speaking during a media Parley organised by Social Development Integrated Centre, Social Action with support from the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) between NULGE, CSOs, Enugu LGA’s Budget Advocacy Clusters, Community Leaders & groups, Ugwueze, said the Autonomy would ensure accountability and transparency in its operation.

Ugwueze expressed the belief that autonomy would bring infrastructural development to the rural communities and bring effectively services delivery to the masses.

“I want to thank the Social Action group for their support since we started this struggle for the emancipation of the local government. They have done a lot in this struggle and in the end, we will all join together to celebrate the success.

“The autonomy if achieved will take us back to the time when local government is strong and infrastructural development was done in the rural area by local government chairmen. Today it has turned to the worst because of the way the governor and state actors have continued to control the local government.

“I am optimistic that this time the National Assembly and the state Assembly will pass the local government autonomy because in the previous, at a time when the bill passes second reading it will be trashed but this time they will pass it. It’s now or never because we can not envisage what the next assembly will do,” he said

Earlier in his address, Ozor Ugonna Kingsley, the Executive Director, Rural Engagement Foundation, REDFoundation, who convened the event for Social Action, lamented that state governors and the House of Assembly are delaying the autonomy of local government.

“This parley has become necessary as we now know that the stumbling blocks to the achievement of LGAs Autonomy are the State Governors and the State Houses of Assembly across the 36 states of the Federation.

“The joint houses of the National Assembly has graciously approved the LGAs Autonomy Bill and are waiting for the states to rectify the bill so the section of the constitution can be amended. We are yet to see any Governor transmit this onerous bill to their state House of Assembly neither has any house of Assembly taken it upon itself to deliberate on for consideration.

“So primarily the objective of this Media Parley is to categorically tell the Governors and the Assembly Members that we the people know they are the enemies of the people and community development, that they have long enjoyed the pilferage of LGAs funds for frivolous purposes and that this is the time to turn a new leaf.

“Finally any Governor and State Assemblymember who fail to pass the LGAs Autonomy Bill into law should consider himself an enemy of the people and will be retired from politics and such persons have no business being in government and the governance space,” he said.

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