NULGE decries ‘rape’ of local government system in Nigeria
President of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Ambali Olatunji, has decried what he described as ‘consistent rape of the local government system’ by politicians in the country.
He also attributed the near-collapse of the third tier of government in Nigeria to the way and manner in which council chairmen are ‘selected’ rather than elected, stressing that they usually emerge through appointment devoid of credibility.
Olatunji, who spoke at a media briefing, yesterday, as part of activities to mark the first NULGE National Women Conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, advocated full autonomy of the council to ensure that allocations were paid directly to their accounts.
He insisted that only a democratically elected council administration would be accountable to the people, and stressed the need for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections into the third tier of government.
On the theme of the conference: The Role Of Women In Engendering Peace And Security, Olatunji said the local government system was set up to provide employment for youths and empowerment for women, while state governments should ensure an enabling environment.
He urged anti-corruption agencies to set up units in council headquarters where Nigerians at all levels could demand accountability from their administrators.
“We demand autonomy for local government whereby INEC will be empowered to conduct council elections. The creation of state electoral commissions has resulted in a lot of abuse and lack of transparency in the conduct of council elections. What they are doing now is coronation, appointment and promotion of political jobbers and cronies into local government administration, thereby creating an avenue to syphon council resources.
“That is why NULGE clamours for the conduct of credible and acceptable election at the council level. If the process is thorough, the leadership would be a leadership elected by the people that would be accountable to them and not to the state government,” he stated.
Olatunji further noted that NULGE was also clamouring for full financial autonomy for the councils, adding: “It is absurd to have a meal between a lion and a dog and create a centre to allow both animals to share the food, knowing that when the lion finishes the meal, he will also go for the dog.
“So council allocations should be directly paid to their account. The lacuna in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) called the joint allocation account is no longer acceptable to Nigerians and NULGE. It must be scrapped, because it gives room for stealing and diversion of council funds by politicians at the state level.”