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Don’t mind governors on LG funds, NULGE tells Buhari

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
28 May 2019   |   4:10 am
The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore complaints by some state governors over the guidelines issued by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence..

NULGE president, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel

The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore complaints by some state governors over the guidelines issued by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), on local government funds.

In a letter written to Buhari, the President of NULGE, Ibrahim Khaleel, explained that some governors abused funds sent to the joint state-local government account. Khaleel added: “The governors almost without exception have since 2003 turned this account into a source of ‘slush fund’, from which they routinely withdraw funds without any form of accountability or restraint.”

He observed that the guidelines from the NFIU is a bold step in the right direction to end the unconscionable financial recklessness by governors feasting on funds meant for the 774 local government councils in the country.

He alleged that the Governors Forum under its outgoing Chairman, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, had, in petition to the President expressed ‘anger and dismay’ over the patriotic action of the NFIU, and accused the latter of attempting to dabble into a matter that it claimed was beyond its mandate.

NULGE submitted that as far it is concerned, the NFIU guideline makes it mandatory for all local council allocations to go straight into their respective bank accounts, after being paid into the joint account before funds could be drawn from them and also that all expenses and expenditure above a maximum of half a million (N500,000) daily must be undertaken by e-transfers and cheques.

“Against the background of what we know about the operations of the state-local government joint account, the measures outlined in the NFIU’s guidelines will go a long way in checkmating the practices of governors who hide behind their immunity while in office to commit all manners of atrocities in the misuse of funds meant for grassroots developments across the federation,” NULGE chief stated.

Khaleel opined that the guidelines indicate that the federal authority is desirous of encroaching the duties and responsibilities of any of the two other tiers of government-states and local government, in the tripod that makes up the federation.

He added: “We do not see how ensuring that funds meant for local government councils reache the intended destination offend in any way the provisions of section 162 of the constitution and its various subsections.”

Contrary to the assertion by the outgoing Chairman of the governors forum that the NFIU guidelines is “stoking mischief and also deliberately seeking to cause disaffection, chaos and overheat the polity”, the NULGE helmsman insisted that it is the governors who have been ganging up to prevent the wishes of the people of Nigeria to guaranteed financial and administrative autonomy for the third tier of our federal system that have been in the habit of doing mischief and heating up the political space by their crude actions.

He accused some of the governors of frustrating previous attempts by the National Assembly to grant financial and administrative autonomy to the local government system.

The union urged President Buhari to ignore the petition of the governors, who are behaving like wounded lions, because they see the source of funds, which they have habitually misused and abused drying up.

“Your standing firm with the downtrodden people in the grassroots, who have endured the avariciousness of the governors over the years, will send the desired message to all that you will consolidate and win the battle against corruption.

NULGE noted that if the guidelines will have any detrimental effect on the operations of the Basic Universal Education programme, or the primary health care or the payment of primary school teachers as governor Yari is claiming, the NFIU guidelines have inherent provisions for any adverse effects to be streamlined with the affected agency or agencies.