By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Only a democratically elected local government administration in Nigeria will be accountable to the people, the President of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Ambali Olatunji has said.
Olatunji who spoke in Uyo on Tuesday, stressed the need for elections into the third tier of government to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He blamed the underdevelopment at the grassroots levels to what he described as “consistent rape of the LG system” by state political actors in Nigeria.
NULGE Boss also attributed the near- collapse state of the third tier of government in Nigeria on mood of emergence of local government chairmen, whom he said emerge through coronation, appointment and promotion, devoid of any form of credibility.
Olatunji who was in Uyo for the first NULGE National Women’s Conference, said the Union is clamouring for full autonomy to enable local government allocations be paid directly into Council accounts.
Reacting to the theme of the conference “The role of women in engendering peace and security”, NULGE National President said the LG system was set up to provide employment for youths and empowerment for the women, while the state government should ensure an enabling environment.
He called on anti corruption agencies to have units in Local Government Headquarters where Nigerians at all levels could demand accountability from LG administrators
In his words “The Local government system has been consistently raped, as the Local Government allocation has been diverted and misused by the state political actors, we say no to that and as a Union we rejected it. We Clamour for political autonomy for Local Government whereby Independent National Electoral Commission will be conducting the Local government Elections.
“The creation of state electoral commission has brought in a lot of abuse and lack of transparency in the conduct of LG elections. What they are doing now is not election, it is coronation, appointment and promotion of political jobbers and political cronies into the administration of Local Government, thereby creating an avenue to syphon Local Government resources.
“That is why NULGE clamour for a conduct of credible and acceptable democratic election at the LG level. if the process is thorough, the leadership would be a leadership voluntarily elected by the people that would be accountable to the people, not to the state government.
“NULGE is also clamouring for full financial autonomy for the Local Government Area. it is an absurdity to have a meal between a lion and a dog, and you put it in the center to allow the lion and the dog to share the food, when the lion finishes the meal, he will also go for the dog.
“So the Local Government Allocation should be directly paid to the Local government account. The lacuna in the 1999 constitution called the Joint allocation account is no longer acceptable to the Nigerian publics and NULGE. It must be scrapped, it gives room for local government funds to be diverted and stolen by state political actors.
“The problem affecting LG is as a result of paucity of funds, if you want them to perform, then pay their allocation to them and hold them accountable. All anti corruption agencies must have their headquarters at the Local Government levels to be the financial watchdogs that would put political actors on their toes.
“In the constitution, the collectables of LG are fully listed, these include rate, taxes, advertisement rates, radio and television fees and so many others, but states have swept most of these, how do you want the Local Government to function?”