By Josiah Oluwole
The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has revealed that nine states have voted in favour of local government autonomy. The union also said three have so far voted against.
State assemblies are currently voting on various constitutional amendments made by the National Assembly including giving local governments financial autonomy from states.
“Out of the 36 states of the federation, 12 states have voted on the two bills. Nine voted for the local government autonomy, three against while we still awaiting 24 states to make their decision on the issue,” said NULGE president Ibrahim Khaleel.
He listed the states who voted in favour of the local government autonomy as Benue, Plateau, Niger, Bauchi, Sokoto, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, and Ogun states; while Edo, Rivers and Imo States voted against the constitutional amendment on local government autonomy.
“The good news is that we need about 24 states to support the local government autonomy and we need about 15 states more and we are looking forward to the support of lawmakers from these states,” he said.
“The local government autonomy is one of the efforts of the National Assembly to deepen our democracy and should be seen as a move towards the survival of our democracy.”
The official vowed to mobilise citizens against governors and other political office holders who resist the autonomy of local governments as recommended by the National Assembly in further amendments to the 1999 Constitution.
Mr. Khaleel expressed the union’s resolve on Monday in Akure, the Ondo State capital, during a press briefing at the end of a Technical Session on the Review of the Constitution for the Media and Civil Society Organisations (CSO) organised by the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL).
According to Mr. Khaleel, a “No” to local government autonomy means “No votes.”
He called on the Houses of Assembly in the South-west to support the autonomy of local governments so that development could be achieved at the grassroots.
“Where a governor proved to be stubborn, we will mobilise the people at the grassroots against such a governor when he is seeking re-election,” he said.
“Our action shall not affect only the governors but also other elected officers that opposed local government autonomy.”
The technical session for the South-west geopolitical zone was held in Akure, Ondo State and was attended by delegates from the six states in the zone.
He argued that given that the local government was closest to the people at the grassroots, it should be empowered and not rendered impotent.
Mr. Khaleel further said that NULGE and CSOs would continue to engage governors, speakers and other stakeholders on the issue.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Amitolu Shittu and Pius Akomolafe said the CSOs would partner with NULGE and other stakeholders to achieve functional local government administration.
They said they were in support of the decision of the union to ensure that those opposed to the amendment were voted out of office.