The National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has opposed plans to delist the local government administration from the constitution.
The union vowed to occupy the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly in two weeks, if the bill is not killed, before embarking on strike.
National President, Comrade Hakeem Ambali, spoke at an extraordinary SEC Meeting/news conference at the union’s headquarters in Lagos. The meeting was to deliberate on issues concerning clamours for local government autonomy, delisting of local government as the third tier of government and moving the minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.
Ambali described the bill as an attempt to kill local government administration in the country. According to him, union leaders have been mandated to visit members of the lower chambers in their constituencies as part of advocacy and engagement to ensure they stand with the people.
He said: “Delisting the local government from the constitution is grievous. Even with it still functional, they capitalise on the lacuna in section 7 (6 A&B), which permits the Houses of Assembly to legislate and appropriate funds for local governments, to mismanage local government funds.
“If they can perpetuate this illegality despite the constitutional provisions, it will be worse when the local government is delisted. This is because money meant for development at the grassroots will be credited to the state government and governors, and nobody will be responsible for the growth and development of the local government. It also shows that creation of local government will no longer be on merit since a governor can create and delist a council at will.
“Local government is the only arm of government which takes care of Nigeria’s multi-ethnic system. It gives people hope and a sense of belonging.
“Waiting for the courts would be a long tortuous journey that would yield no result. This is a country where a court will deliver a judgment and governors will disregard it because of the immunity clause in the constitution which protects them. We believe it is more appropriate to engage them through advocacies and protests, and if they continue, we will go on total strike.
“We have written to the National Assembly to voice our opposition to the bill. They wanted to pass the law secretly as the first and second readings were done without public knowledge. We are having these problems because our leaders are not accountable to the people but to Abuja. NULGE is speaking out loud now because if we refuse to, anything can happen in Nigeria.”