By; KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
In deliberate efforts to strengthen the dividends of democracy across the three tiers of government, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has called for full autonomy, including financial, administrative and political activities of the local councils in Nigeria.
The National Vice President of the union Northeast Zone, Comrade Emmanuel Fashe made the disclosure during an interview with correspondents, shortly after a three-day workshop organised by Association of Chairmen Local Government Service Commission of Nigeria held in Abuja recently.
He said, ” the bone of contention now concerning the issue of local government autonomy is at the States Assembly because the National Assembly has over the years, passed this autonomy
“But let me correct this notion that we’re not only seeking for financial autonomy, the autonomy being sorted for is both political, financial and even administrative autonomy.
” NULGE as a union being the advocate of this pursuits with the people’s voices, we felt people working in this environment are the credible voices that can actually stand for the masses of Nigeria to ensure that this autonomy becomes reality. Therefore, it is not only for fiscal policy but also for political administrative area.
According to him, about 10 states have passed the autonomy bills when the National Assembly transmitted it to the states assemblies.
He said, “Some of these states are Katsina, Kogi, Edo, Anambra, Enugu, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Ondo and Ogun and we’re optimistic that some states will follow soon.
” This time the states actors most especially the legislators should see the reason why the wishes of the people should be granted because it’s this wish that the the local government areas should be liberated to perform and deliver true dividends of democracy.
Comrade Fashe decried that there’s disconnection between the people and the government, noting that the councils are not performing like what they were known for.
He said, “these lapses in the local government areas is owing to the fact the state governors have shutdown the functions of these councils. Even the allocations that are going to these councils from the federation accounts don’t reach them in good shape and some of these councils chairmen cannot even pay workers salary not to talk about delivering dividends of democracy.
“People have perception that why NULGE is at the vanguard of this autonomy agitation is because of their salaries and welfare but we’re doing it to justify why we’re being paid too as a service delivery organization”.
On the workshop, the Vice President stressed that it was timely, considering the fact that part of the duties of the commission is training and retraining of staff to enhance effective service delivery.
“They organised this workshop solely to keep the local government workers abreast as agents of democratic challenges. This workshop wouldn’t have come in any other time than now, as the theme suggests, ‘ the imperative ness of local governments system as an Agent of Democratic consolidation and Grassroot Development.
“The approach they made is a sustainable approach as the programme is targeted at building the capacity of local government workers as critical stakeholders to bring development to grassroots people.
” Of course, whatever policies of the government at the grassroots, it’s the workers that serve as engine rooms to carryout and ensure such policies are successful. Therefore, it’s natural for training and retraining to develop their capacities since they are the most closer to the rural dwellers.”
He debunked the rumours making rounds that the workshop was targeted at cajoling workers at the third tier of government towards particular political candidates in preparation for the 2023 general elections.
“This workshop like I mentioned, is for capacity building for workers at councils level as agents of democratic consolidation at the grassroots. It has nothing to do with politics,” he declared.