Abiodun OBA

 

The National President, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Olatunji Ambali, has lamented that it was now difficult for local governments to patch and tar roads and meet other obligations as it were in the past.

Ambali expressed the regret in an interview with newsmen on the side-lines of the ongoing Conference of Nigeria State of Assembly Speakers at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The NULGE leader said, “We need to restore Nigeria back to how it used to be; people no longer know the difference between a governor and local government chairman.

“That’s not the narration; Local Governments should be returned to a service-centre that would be able to provide social services,” he said.

Ambali said all security challenges were local, adding that local governments should be allowed to provide security and safety in the rural communities.

The NULGE leader therefore, appealed “to the people that any governor that is against the local government autonomy should be voted out of office, because they are not fit to lead the country,” NULGE president said.

He said the union leaders were in Ibadan to address the Speakers to enable them to understand that their agitations was nothing, but a patriotic duty.

Ambali said they had contacted strategic stakeholders, such as paramount rulers, opinion leaders and other well-meaning Nigerians on the need for autonomy of the council in the country.

He, further disagreed with Gov. Seyi Makinde’s position in his keynote address at the conference, that local governments would not be sustainable, if allowed to gain autonomy.

Ambali urged the governor to show interest in Nigeria and should not allow himself to be pushed by self-interest.

“We have realized that those making side comments are doing it as self-serving and not in the patriotic interest of their people,” he said.

He argued that allocation from the Federal Government (FG) was enough to sustain local governments without adding the internally generated revenue.

He said NULGE was aware that workers in Oyo State were less than 10,000, while workers in Rivers are over 20,000 with salary package for Rivers State to be over N2.5 billion.

“Despite that, in September 2021 to be precise, the allocation released by FAAC in October, it is on record that Oyo State earned over N5 billion.

“In this regard, if Rivers State that has more workers than Oyo State got less than N3.5 billion, what happened to the balance?

“We are not also talking about the burden put on local governments by various state governors that local governments should fully fund primary education, which is supposed to be the statutory role of the state governments,” Ambali said.

He expressed confidence that local government could pay salary, carry out infrastructure developments, address insecurity and give good governance to the people, if allowed to earn their allocations.

The union president said that autonomy would allow connection between the government and the people, give hope to youths and women through skills acquisition programme.

Ambali said that elections in the past were conducted and the process then produced credible leaders that were acceptable to the people.

“What we are experiencing now is a charade we can’t call election; it could be regarded as coronation, appointment and promotion.

“While we are having that, the governors want to continue to pilfer local governments’ funds; that’s why they put their cronies that can’t question them in office.

“If we must get it right at the local government level, we must allow credible elections because it will give room for democratic involvement,” he said.

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