Wednesday, January 18, 2017 10:47 pm
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has said that the House wills do everything to grant financial autonomy to Local Governments in the amendments being sought in the 1999 constitution.
Dogara said this when he met with the national executive committee of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to him, granting LGs autonomy is the only way to accelerate development at the grassroots.
He therefore urged local government workers to intensify their agitation for local government autonomy, adding that the desired change will only be achieved through collective efforts.
The speaker blamed the situation in the local governments on undue interference by state governors, saying local governments must be financially and politically autonomous to ensure development in the rural areas.
“It is a responsibility all of us owe to our people. As a matter of fact, we are not even doing it for you, we are doing it for the Nigerian people.
“The way local government administration is in Nigeria, I must say it is truly a stab on the conscience of every true democrat.
“It does not matter whether you are the president, if you are a senator, a member of the House of Representatives, a leader of any of these institutions or in the judiciary.”
The speaker informed NULGE executives that some governors who opposed local government autonomy were of the view that local governments will collapse if the elected chairmen should run them.
Dogara, however, argued that state governors would have “extricated themselves from blame if they let local governments free.”
He also said that the house has decided that the ongoing Constitution review captured the yearnings of millions of Nigerians for rapid development at the grassroots.
“For us, as representatives of the people, we have heard the cry of the people and we know that the only way we can add value to local government is by giving them political and financial independence.
“This will expand opportunities in the grassroots.”
Earlier, the delegation commended the Speaker for leading the campaign and advocacy for local government autonomy, describing him as “a patriot and statesman”.
They called on the speaker to ensure that the ongoing Constitution Amendment captures local government autonomy.
They further urged Dogara to involve all the stakeholders that can bring it to fruition, including President Muhammadu Buhari, who they said was in the best position to ensure that governors stop the violation of the constitutionally provided roles of local government officials.
Contributing, the National president of NULGE, Mr Ibrahim Khaleel, also appealed to the Speaker to pass their agitations to President Muhammadu Buhari whom they said, was in the best position to rally for the support of state governors.
“You have the capacity as speaker of this house, together with your team,to make Mr President understand that it is only he and only he that can change the situation.
“No amount of agitation or campaign can change the minds of the governors. When he calls the governors and speakers of the State House of Assembly, he can make the difference,”he said. (NAN)