The Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) will soon embark on a nationwide protest to support local government autonomy.the ongoing constitutional amendment by the National Assembly to grant autonomy to local government areas (LGAs).
The National Assembly (NASS) is currently working on amending the constitution to allow local government areas (LGAs) more autonomy in the federation.
National President, NULGE, Ibrahim Khaleel Abdulkadir, said the protest would be part of the advocacy activities mapped out to ensure that the local government administrations were autonomous in line with the fiscal federalism as obtainable around the globe.
“One of the demands at the United Nations’ meeting was that LGAs across the world should be made autonomous in line with democratic principles,” he said.
According to Abdulkadir, NULGE leadership had agreed to protest in all the six geopolitical zones of the country. Some centres have been designed as venues of the protests in the six zones.
The centres include Calabar in South-South; Enugu in South-East; Osogbo in South-West; Ilorin in North-Central; and Jalingo in North-East).
He urged the union at the state and LGA levels to conduct similar protests, adding that the union would collaborate with the National Assembly to ensure grassroots government autonomy became a reality.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said the House was working on granting financial autonomy to LGAs in the ongoing constitutional amendment exercise. because that is the only way to guarantee development at the grassroots.
According to him, that was the only way to guarantee development at the grassroots.
Dogara also charged local government workers to step up the agitation, saying only through their individual and collective efforts would the desired change be achieved.
Dogara, who gave this charge when the national executive members of NULGE visited him at the National Assembly complex, noted that no progress could be achieved in the local government if the status quo of interference and administration by state governors was retained., adding that local governments must be financially and politically
He added that local governments must be financially and politically autonomous to guarantee development in the rural areas.
He said, “It is a responsibility all of us owe to our people. As a matter of fact, we are not even doing it for you; we are doing it for the Nigerian people. And the way local government administration is in Nigeria, I must say, it is truly a stab on the conscience of every true democrat. It doesn’t matter whether you are the president or if you are a senator, a member of the House, a leader of any of these institutions or in the judiciary.”
Dogara said some governors opposed to local government autonomy fear that local governments would collapse if their administration is handed over to the elected chairmen.
He stated that progress could never be made by maintaining the status quo, adding that the House has chosen to ensure that the ongoing constitution amendment exercise captured the yearnings of Nigerians for development in the grassroots.
“For us as representatives of the people, we have heard the cry of the people and we know that the only way we can add value to local government is by giving them political and financial independence. This will expand opportunities in the grassroots,” he said.
The NULGE delegation commended the Speaker for leading the campaign and advocacy for local government autonomy and described him as a patriot and statesman.
NULGE called on Dogara to ensure that the ongoing constitution amendment captures local government autonomy, adding that he should involve all stakeholders that could bring it to fruition, including President Muhammadu Buhari, who is best-placed to ensure that governors stop the violation of the constitutionally provided roles of local government officials.