Financial autonomy of local government will boost job creation, says Saraki
Granting financial autonomy to the third tier of government would curb insecurity, provide jobs for youths and boost economic activity through diversification, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki has said.
The Senate President, who stated this in Abuja, at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), argued that the time has come for local governments to operate independent of the states and with their own budget and levels of accountability.
Saraki, who was represented by Chairman of Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration, Senator Abdullahi Gumel, stated that all stakeholders must forge joint responsibility to ensure that there is a symbiotic relationship between the states and local governments to prevent unwarranted disadvantage to the third-tier government in Nigeria.
He explained that a cordial and symbiotic relationship between the second and third tiers of government will make the necessary checks and balances that would further serve to deepen the fabric of Nigeria’s democracy possible.
The Senate President submitted that though the constitutional amendment process is transformational in approach, advocates of local government autonomy must remain steadfast through continued dialogue, collaboration and partnership with relevant stakeholders including government.
On his part, National President of NULGE, Ibrahim Khaleel lamented the unpalatable experiences of local government workers since the return of democracy in 1999.
“From the inception of the current democratic era in May 1999, with the exception of a brief respite at the beginning, as local government workers, we have moved from one crisis to another from a period of zero allocation, caused in part by over-deductions from local government funds, which prevented majority of local governments in the country from meeting the basic but elementary obligation of paying their workers’ salaries, to our resistance against a determined and concerted effort to abolish the local government system as a tier of government,” he explained.
He also accused state governors for not only diverting the finance meant for local government contained in the joint account, but also deny the third tier of government 10% of internally generated revenue as provided for by Nigerian Constitution and specified by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The union also lamented that the Kaduna stage government has sacked about 5,000 of its members and another 22,000 that belong to the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT).
NULGE stated that it stands with the labour centres on the N30, 000 new minimum wage, saying the organised labour should not be tested by government.
Khaleel added: “We stand by the Congress position that the negotiations are finished, and what remains is for Mr President to forward the agreed N30,000 to the National Assembly for legislation as the new national minimum wage. Those who wish to test the resolve of organised labour on this matter should first review all past campaigns and national strike actions that have come out of stalemated national minimum wage negotiations.”