NULGE: Rallying For Local Government Autonomy

By Abdul Abubakar

In January 2013, Mark Amaza wrote an article titled: _Do We Need Local Government Autonomy_, his essay asserted that though local government is considered the third tier of government, the 1999 Constitution did not explicitly say so and that is why it has been treated as no more than a ministry of state government.

Building upon Amaza’s question I ask; why shouldn’t we? At a time when the masses have never felt more sidelined by state and federal government in the decision making process of the country, has there been a better time to campaign for such development.

Perhaps those who oppose the realization of this purpose do not understand that the idea behind this push for local government autonomy in Nigeria is to free it from the shackles of state government, thereby warranting it's much needed independence as a true tier of government answerable only to the people.

Because we are who we are, the elites benefiting from this arrangement which has seen this tier of authority bend to the generosity of a state government infested by shallow sentiments and personal agendas, would rather see this initiative by the leadership and body of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) fall to dust.

For the indulgence of naïve minds yet to understand what this campaign is all about, the local government autonomy centers on three prime phases; democratic autonomy, financial autonomy, and administrative autonomy. Until all three phases are ensured and achieved, local government council and its operations will always be dictated by the discretions of state government.

DEMOCRATICALLY, this campaign seeks to ensure the abolition of State Independent Electoral Commission from the constitution and conduct of local government election by INEC, the recognition of Local Government Council as a tier of government in the country, and implementation of the Supreme Court judgement for the conduct of local government elections and not appointment or selection by state government.

FINANCIALLY, the campaign advocates for the scrapping of state/local government Joint Account Committee, payment of constitutional 10% of the internally generated revenue by the state government to the local government council, stoppage of unconstitutional deduction from the local government allocation or diversion of funds for what ever purpose, adherence of revenue sources as enshrined in the constitution fourth schedule to local government council, and consideration of primary school teachers salary on first line charge from the FAAC.

ADMINISTRATIVELY, the campaign pushes for the recognition of Local Government Service Commission and the office of the Auditor General for local government in the constitution, an aggressive man power development and improved productivity, and finally an adequate care for traditional institutions.

Achieving all these is no absolute victory without ensuring that local governments are explicitly defined in the constitution rather than left ambiguously to the interpretation of people.

I am particularly happy with governor Fayose’s stand on this issue and taking a cue from his example, I urge other governors to surrender their support to Comrade. Ibrahim Khaleel and his team. If for nothing, with an autonomous local government, state governments no longer have to swallow the blame for its problems.