The national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has called on leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to advise its member representing Ahoada East federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Bob Solomon, to withdraw a bill he sponsored, seeking to delist local government system from Nigeria’s 1999 constitution.
Speaking during an advocacy visit to former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in his country home, Otuoke, the national president of NULGE, Comrade Olatunji Ambali, pleaded with the former president to support the union’s advocacy, adding that anything other than this would kill democracy at the grassroots level.
He further said: “We have carefully chosen you and former president Olusegun Obasanjo to ask for support towards the actualisation of local government council autonomy. We started the struggle in 2016 and the 7th and 8th assembly graciously passed the LGA autonomous bill into law.
“But we ran into mucky waters during the transmission to states for concurrence whereby some of the governors threatened speakers of their various assemblies not to give concurrence to the law. This is where we were, when surprisingly another diversionary tactics was introduced into the agitation.
“A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bob Solomon, representing Ahoada East Federal Constituency sponsored a bill for the delisting of local government councils from the 1999 constitution. When we heard it, we thought it was a child’s play but it is not anymore with the way things are going now.”
In his reaction, Dr. Goodluck said to ensure that the dividends of democracy trickle down to Nigerians at the grassroots level, the National Assembly must make laws that would make local government councils stronger, autonomous and have powers to generate revenue to drive development at the grassroots level.
He said if he were a member of the National Assembly, he would mobilise members to amend sections in the 1999 construction of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that would totally prohibit the appointment of local government chairman and give the people at grassroots level power to decide who leads them through election.
He said the local government system is the oldest globally accepted means through which government impact positively on the lives of the people at the grassroots level and any bill targeted at delisting it from the constitution is an abuse to democratic tenets and procedures.
He said “the problem with Nigeria is that our local government structure is still very weak. And whatever restructuring we are talking about, finally, Nigerians must sit down to discuss. And the issue of local government autonomy must be considered.
“As long as we have weak local governments, we would have difficulty managing this country. The way it is now, the person who runs the state, runs the LGAs and that makes nonsense of the whole concept of the third tier of government. The president should manage the nation, governors should manage the states and chairmen should be allowed to run he local councils.”