Stories by Moses John
Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has described the position of Osun state governor, Raufu Aregbesola, on local government autonomy as undemocratic and confusing.
Reacting to statement credited to governor that autonomy for local government in a federal system of government was not possible, National President of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, warned the governor not to incure the wrath of the people, who want the third tie of government free from the excruciating control of state governors.
Governor Aregbesola was recently reported in the media as having waved off the clamour by NULGE for LG autonomy, describing it as alien to the federal system being operated in the country and an aberration to the principle of federalism.
Blueprint check showed that Aregbesola position contradicted the position of Governors of Taraba state, Darius Ishaku; his Enugu and Kano states counterparts, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as well as that of the Nasarawa state governor, Tanko Almakura, on autonomy for LGs.
Comrade Khaleel added that the governor was confusing himself and the people of Nigeria with his analogy, and wondered whether he understands the logic of his own statement.
According to the Labour leader, “Aregbesola is either confusing himself or he doesn’t know the reason for the struggle for local government autonomy. The struggle for local government autonomy is to ensure that one group does not lord it over the other. The reason is for the people in the same locality, local government and grassroots to perfectly organise themselves in their locality, elect their leaders, well known to them and develop their community.
“The present situation where the governors lord it over LGs, select leaders for them rather than allow them to choose their leaders as stipulated in the constitution, is undemocratic and can only be supported by undemocratic people.
“NULGE is not worried about his undemocratic position because he is one of the governors, who are notorious for not organising LG elections and not paying workers’ salaries.”
Speaking further, Khaleel said: “His opposition to local government autonomy is understandable because he sits in Osogbo, the state capital to lord it over the people at the grass root, control their resources and allocation from the federal level, without meaningful development at the grassroots level.
“The first ingredient of democracy is the people and their voices. Democracy is where the minority have their say but majority have their way. He quite well understands that his position is in minority and only popular among a few greedy governors, who want to control the resources of the local government.
“Majority of Nigerians want local government autonomy, the people at the grassroots want their total freedom and want development.
“The outcome of the public hearing in all the geo-political zones by the 7th National Assembly, showed that vast majority of Nigerians want local government autonomy. So, why should few people like Aregbesola lord their unpopular position on Nigerians just because they control the state house of assemblies,” he queried.