BY; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
As the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) embarks on a nation-wide rally to sensitise Nigerians on the need to support its call for the autonomy of local government, its leaders have vowed to fight with the last pint of blood to get its approval.
The leaders had accused state governors of highhandedness, sabotage and excessive control of local government areas over the years without recourse to the development of the grassroots.
Addressing delegates from the south-south geopolitical zone on Friday, the National President comrade Ibrahim Khalil, said the autonomy of local government areas in Nigeria was long over due.
According to him, “the continuous control of local government by governors has created squalor, underdevelopment and poverty in the 776 local government areas in Nigeria”.
He said that there is need to strengthen the institutional framework of local government administration in the country for effective and efficient results.
Khali said that the grassroots can only be developed when full autonomy is granted to local government administration.
He regretted that governors have taken over the constitutional responsibility of local government thereby creating poverty and squalor as many of them have become demi gods, too powerful and uncontrollable.
He said that the non granting of autonomy to local government had silently killed its existence. Local government staff are being owed several months of arrears and yet they are the ones generating revenues for state governments.
The whole idea of local government has been hijacked by governors for their personal gains. The local government areas have suffered excruciating control from governors over the years and what is happening is no longer acceptable’’.
In his speech, Comrade Johnson Ofume, said the only panacea for grassroots development in the country is by granting autonomy to local government administration.
He added “we want Nigerians to know that local governments are dying. The people at the grassroots are not happy, there is no development in our communities because our local governments are in the pockets of the elites”.
Ofume who called for the scrapping of Joint Account Committee (JAAC) said that 10 percent internally generated revenue by state should also be given to LGCs including the stoppage of unconstitutional deductions from local government allocations/diversion of same.
He advised that teachers salaries should be excluded from local government funds to allow proper administration.
Ofume blamed the governors and National Assembly members who just finished serving as governors but today were elected as Senators. They know the truth as well as how to solve this problem.
He said that “the battle is not for local government alone but it is for the development of the entire grassroots”.
Earlier, the national president of the Nigerian Youth for positive change, Comrade Nasir Kabir, described the Senate as harbouring ex-governors who have become so powerful to sit and decide who becomes the party chairman, chief judge and local government chairmen.
The state President Comrade Godwin Ayinde had earlier welcomed the delegates as well as the national officers before they proceeded to the state house of Assembly where they met the leadership of the House in a close door meeting.