The National President, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Ambali Olatunji, has said that the illegality perpetrated by governors has crippled the local government system across the country.
Ambali, in company with presidents of NULGE from the six South-west states, stated this while speaking with journalists in Akure, the Ondo State capital, adding that the root of insecurity as well as socio-economic challenges bedevilling the country is traceable to the mismanagement of the local government system by state governors.
He said: “As at today, you can no longer move from one state to another without initially asking if you will get home safely. Insecurity in the south, east, west and north. This is not the Nigeria of our dream. We are bedevilled by abject poverty, joblessness, hopelessness, and threat to nationhood.
“Everybody now resorts to ethnic agitation. We have come this far because Nigeria is no longer working. The nation has failed the masses. At 61, Nigeria has abandoned her constitutional role in guarantee security and peace in the country.
“This can be traced to the systematic decay and destruction at the LG level. The local government system is the most strategic, most relevant, most popular and most acceptable tier of government in the country.”
While calling for local government autonomy, Ambali described the Joint Account Allocation Committee as a conduit pipe for stealing money meant for the third tier of government.
“For us, we believe to have qualitative leadership of the local government and that is why we are calling for direct funding of local government. Allowing state governments to be in charge of local government funds is synonymous to giving the same food to a lion and a dog and you ask them to go and share them. When the lion finishes eating the food, it will go for the dog and even eat out of the dog. That’s what we are witnessing presently in Nigeria,” Ambali said.
He said the appointment of surrogates and political jobbers into leadership positions in the councils is not acceptable.
Ambali said: “We need a politically-free and financially dependent local government administration. The local government has been raped over time; it has witnessed systematic destruction as a result of misrule and stealing of local government funds, thereby militating against progressive development at the grassroots level.
“No wonder, as of today, we are bedevilled by insecurity and poverty. We are deprived and also encumbered by unemployment, homelessness just because we have a failing system in the local government.”
The NULGE leader said it was time to fix the local government administration in the country, noting that council elections should not be conducted by state electoral bodies.
Ambali said that the polls conducted by the state agencies were not acceptable to Nigerians, describing the exercise as a charade.
“As at today, you can no longer see visibly local government performing her role. This is not deliberate; it is as a result of force seizure of local government allocations by political state activists and denial of Nigerian people to freely choose their own leaders at the local government level.
“It can be traced to the use of an instrumentality of the law to corner the internally generated revenue of the local government. When you look at our constitution, under the residual list, the collective use of local government revenue are clearly itemized. But as at today, we’ve seen governors using state Houses of Assembly as a lacuna to promulgate illegality, surplus at the state that is contrary and contradictory to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It was fostered on the local governments by state political actors led by the governors in this country. Monies meant for growth and development, and dividends of democracy were diverted”, Ambali added.