Why 36 States can be Scrapped for LGs —NULGE fingers Govs

By: Tolulope Oluwole

The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, has fingered state Governors for perpetrating illegality to cripple local government administration across the country thereby resulting in security and socio-economic challenges facing the masses.

The National President of the Union, Comrade Olatunji Ambali, gave this indication in Akure, the Ondo state capital while speaking with Journalists.

The NULGE National President flanked by State Presidents from the Southwest zone, said the root of insecurity and other predicaments bedeviling the country could be traced to the mismanagement of the local government system over the years by many state governors.

Com Ambali with southwest state President

While calling for local government autonomy, Comrade Ambali who was in Akure for social event, described the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) as a conduit pipe for allegedly stealing money meant for the development of grassroots by political cronies appointed by the governors.

The National President said local governments were bouyant enough to have administrative, political and economic autonomy, urging the National Assembly and state houses of assembly to grant same in the ongoing constitution review.

He charged local government chairmen nationwide under ALGON, to have the courage to challenge in court illegal collection of motor park and signage fees by the state governments.

Comrade Ambali advocated scrapping of 36 States if it is compulsory to have just two tiers of government under a federal system of government, insisting that local governments are more relevant to the masses than states as a federating unit.

“If we are to scrap any tier of goverment, we should scrap the state government because they are not relevant to the people”, Ambali added.

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 and North. This is not the Nigeria of our dream. We are bedeviled by abject poverty, joblessness, hopelessness, threat to the nationhood.

“Everybody now result 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 guaranteeing security and peace in the country.

“This can be traced to the systematic decay and destruction at the LG level. 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, Comrade Ambali described the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) as a conduit pipe for allegedly stealing money meant for the development of grassroots by political cronies appointed by the governors.

“For us we believed to have qualitative leadership of 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 fund is synonymous to giving same food to a lion and a dog and you ask them to go and share. When the lion finishes eating the food, it will go for the dog and even eat it out of the dog.  That’s what we are witnessing presently in Nigeria”.

He said the appointment of surrogates and political jobbers into leadership positions in the councils was 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 actors and denial of Nigerian people to freely choose their own leaders at the local government level.

“It can be traced to use of instrumentality of law to coner the internally generated revenue of local government. When you look at our constitution, under residual list, the  collection of land use charge is local government revenue clearly itemized.

“But as today, we’ve seen governors using State Houses of Assembly as a lacuna to promogate illegally, surplus at the states that are contrary and contradictory to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It was forced on the local governments by state political actors led by the governors in this country. Monies meant for growth and development, and dividends (at the grassroots) of democracy were diverted.”

“We want to amplify our patriotic call for the actualization of LG autonomy. The campaign for the actualization of is well timed having realized the mirage of problems facing Nigeria as a Nation.

“The power to collect the tenamet rate is vested in the local government, unfortunately, State governments use House of Assembly to legislate by saying they are collecting land use charges, which is illegal and contrary to the constitution, thereby depriving the local governments, the ability to collect tenamet rate.

“The power to collect the rates for advertisement is vested in the local government. As at today, you see state governments creating Signage Board. It is illegal board.

“Collection of rates and fees at the motor parks and garages is vested in the local government. As at today, you hear state transport board, which is an abberation. It is not in accordance with the law.

“When you look at all this illegality, it has crippled local governments, because the fund expected to be used for meaningful projects have been carpeted”.

He said: “Regrettably, Federal Allocations for all the local governments in Nigeria has been hijacked, miss applied, miss appropriated and outrightly syphoned  from the local government.

“Joint Allocation  Committee which has become a condit pipe through which local government has been sucked dry. This systematic destruction has led to hopelessness, rural-urban migration, insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and ‘yahoo-yahoo’ going on.

He said: “Regrettably, the ALGON that supposed to stand in the middle has become a toothless bulldog. If the governors can go to court to challenge the issue of VAT, then you may want to ask yourself that what is the essence of ALGON.

“That is a threat to the political wish  and aspiration of the people. But because of the power to coase, to force and hijack election and even run result without conducting proper election. They have messed up this exercise and that is why NULGE clamouring for the scraping of State Independent Electoral Commission.

“This is a corrupt agency that has not  been performing, thereby denying Nigerians the opportunity to fully choose their leaders and what is the implication? If you allow governors to appoint their cronies to be in charge of local governments in Nigeria, it shows that such leader will not be accountable to the people because who pays the piper, dictate the tune.

“That is why NULGE is saying it (SIEC) should be scraped and the Independent National Electoral Commission should conduct elections in all the 774 local governments. Until we get to this level, Nigeria will continue to witness what it is witnessing today”.