The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has called for quick conduct of public hearings on the amendment to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in which administrative and financial autonomy were proposed for local governments across the federation.
The Southwest Vice President of the union, Oludare Famoofo, gave the charge in Ibadan during a press conference held at the end of a two-day workshop packaged for journalists and members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) to enable them play their respective roles more effectively in the quest to enhance governance in the local government system in Nigeria.
As prescribed by the Nigerian constitution, the National Assembly, after concluding its own part of the processes required for the constitutional amendment, had passed its recommendations to the States Houses of Assembly for appropriate action.
Among the alterations done to the constitution was provisions for financial and administrative autonomy for the local governments as the third tier of government in Nigeria.
The state lawmakers were required to make ‘Yes or No’ vote to the National Assembly’s recommendation on the proposed status.
But despite people’s high expectations and the positive changes a nod to the autonomy would bring to governance in the country, the proposal failed to garner a two-third of simple majority of votes in the 36 states Houses of Assembly across the nation.
In fact, only six were able to give a favourable vote, while 24 stepped it down for a public hearing, others voted against.
In the entire Southwest, only Ogun State was among the six states that voted in favour of the proposed autonomy, others promised to hold public hearing to get their constituents more involved the decision making process.
Although, NULGE said it was not against the public hearing as it would ensure a participatory process, it was rather miffed that the promise was being delayed unnecessarily.
“Our lawmakers had promised to hold public hearings on this issue, but none of them ever did for the past months.
“We want to use this opportunity to appeal to them to walk their talk as that would give the people the opportunity to have their say in the whole process,” Famoofo said.
He stated categorically that NULGE was in total support of financial and administrative autonomy for local governments, insisting that the status is the only state in which the third tier of government would play its role of touching the grassroots effectively in the nation’s federal system.
“We know that if local government autonomy is granted, the era of insecurity and infrastructural decay will be over and every community will be allowed to develop at its own pace.
“This will also serve as a the basis for the development of our nation.
“We know all these because we work within the local government system. And that is why we are leading the struggle.”
While calling on other government workers, especially members of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the NULGE boss noted that the nation and people will enjoy much better if local government administration is saved from the high level of corruption occasioned by the current constitutional provision that makes it possible for state governors to mismanage funds meant for local governments in their states.